Welcome to the Gary Cooper Scrapbook Message Board. Here you can talk about Gary's films and his life."Strong, clean-limbed, and tall; lean as the wild horses he had broken in his boyhood, Gary arrived. And health and wholesomeness came with him. Like a living flame he purged those about him. His pictures reveal his influence. For, no matter how he is cast—cowboy or cavalier, drunkard or wastrel, there can be no taint of decadence in his work. Something wholly alive, and hence pure and clean, shows through the fogs of his acting. No, Gary Cooper, hero or villain, always keeps us enthralled by virtue of that dynamic force within him.” – Fan letter to magazine by Eva Pratt (1932)
Gary was not at this address from 1910-1913 but 1909-1912. I have known this since I started at the school, when I interviewed the one remaining master to have known the brothers, "Codey" Coales, before he retired - he had also started in 1909. Following Gary's death I asked the Town Council to commemorate his time here, but no-one was interested in the wishes of a 14 year old. All the published sources are error-strewn, with inaccurate, poorly researched "facts" repeatedly recirculated, and from what I've seen this site is not exempt - but I haven't followed all the threads. Even Gary's own recollections aren't always supported by the evidence - not surprising given how young he was at the time. I have gone through all the biographies and local newspaper coverage and can correct the errors, but of course there is too much nonsense on the internet to make much of an impression there.
I have contacted the Clerk of the Town Council and he has agreed to correct the dates on the plaque.
Does anyone know what happened to the school's archives in 1971?
Garys Dunstable home, 157 High Street North, unfortunately it is now a grocery store. The commerative plaque was arranged by John Buckledee after much research into the exact location, bearing in mind that house numbers had changed since that time, along with parish boundaries.
Post by maggiejones on Feb 1, 2011 19:13:15 GMT -6
Welcome to the site, it is great to have an insight from an "Old Boy" of Dunstable Grammar. Any error corrections you may be able to make would be greatly appreciated and perhaps the DSOBA would be able to answer your question about the 1971 archives. April 30th 1910 Montana Census shows Gary & Arthur still in Montana as shown. We do not have the exact date of his arrival in the UK later that same year. Ships Manifest detailing his arrival back in the U.S can be found in the Miscellaneous section of this site under Ship & Plane Manifests. The discovery of the date of their return to the States was passed to John Buckledee last September.
Thank you for the welcome. I have assumed that his father provided details for the whole family, whereas they were in fact in Dunstable - Gary having started at the school on 22 January 1910, the term following Arthur 22 September 1909. Whilst the school records for this period are demonstrably incomplete, I would be most surprised if the family returned home briefly in time for this Montana census - and I have not discovered corresponding passenger records to support such a return home. I am aware that census records are unreliable, although I am of course less familiar with what went on in the States. I know, for example, a family listed in three different places simultaneously, and none of them where they actually were... and so many I just cannot locate in all the US censuses although as far as I know they never moved...
I'll try and sort out the "facts" from the persistent speculation.
Post by maggiejones on Jan 3, 2012 17:21:48 GMT -6
I have copied and posted an e-mail I recieved from John Buckledee in answer to the above. (2011)
Mr Napthine is correct. There's been a huge amount of research carried out since the plaque was erected, and I don't think anyone now disputes that the dates on it are wrong. This has been mentioned a number of times over the past few years and the correct dates were publicised in various media throughout the Gary Cooper festival in Dunstable last year.
No-one should feel unduly embarrassed by the mistakes, even though it is all very unfortunate. Over the years I have had many interviews with Cooper's friends and family and amassed a large number of newspaper cuttings about Gary Cooper's local connections, and in the 1920s and 1930s it was repeatedly published that he had lived in Houghton Regis between 1910 and 1913. No-one thought to dispute these dates, and the plaque perpetuates that misinformation.
But last year researchers traced the passenger list of the SS Celtic showing that Arthur and his younger brother Frank ("Gary") returned to Montana in 1912, almost immediately after they ended their years at the school. So the 1913 date is definitely incorrect. And we all now know that Arthur started at the Grammar School in September 1909, which is almost certainly when the two brothers and their mother began living at the address in High Street North, Dunstable. Gary did not start at the school until 1910, which is probably why that date kept cropping up. If we are going to be very pedantic about these things, I should mention that there were some Houghton Regis people who suggested that the brothers lived at first at the Cooper family home in Houghton Regis and moved only later to the more-convenient address opposite the grammar school. But the balance of probabilities is that the 1909 date is the correct one and I would be very surprised if anyone now disputes it. I have not seen any documentary evidence either way.
There has been confusion over the address until recently because Cooper, when famous, said he had once lived at High Street, Houghton. This was understood to mean the White House, High Street, Houghton Regis, but Cooper had been referring to Upper Houghton - an area which became High Street North, Dunstable, when the borough boundaries were altered years after he had left the town. The street was renumbered, too, so it was all quite baffling and it was something of a research triumph when the exact address in Dunstable was confirmed in the 1990s.
So, to cut a long story short, I agree with Mr Napthine that the plaque should read: Gary Cooper, Hollywood film star, lived here 1909 - 1912. It would nice if the council could quietly put up a new plaque, particularly as I understand that Ashton Middle School is preparing to put up a Cooper memorial on their own premises and it would be very confusing if the dates did not correspond.
While I am at it, there is a myth that the present plaque is on the wrong part of the building in High Street North. This is because the present convenience store combines two separate premises, and the plaque was at first put up on the wrong side. This was pointed out when it happened, and Dunstable Council immediately went back and corrected the mistake. But the rumour persists that this wasn't done.
Post by maggiejones on Mar 12, 2012 12:45:23 GMT -6
Made a trip to Dunstable weekend 3rd March to pick up the rest of my Cooper memorabilia. Really enjoyed being in the place where Gary spent those 2 years schooling. I even managed to take a photograph of the christening font in All Saints Church " Houghton Regis "where he & his brother Arthur where christened.
When I was in England I liked visiting the small town churches. They are usually very pretty, like this one, and have a lot of history and some of them are older than the U.S.
“It’s literally true, as Shakespeare said--all the world’s a stage. It wasn’t that way when I first got into the movies in 1924, but it is now. That’s why I find Hollywood newer and more exciting every day. Whatever you hear it’s still a place where a kid from Montana can jump on a horse, ride that-a-way, and keep right on going.” – Gary Cooper, 1956
ghruth: is there any way to resurrect the full text of the Saturday Evening Post stories about Coop's career? I used to be Iron Hero..now I'm GHRuth and finishing up the book on Pride of the Yankees. I seem to be missing the part about Pride of the Yankees
Aug 20, 2016 21:39:21 GMT -6
matterbooboo: I have been told by my mother that I am a distant relation to Gary Cooper. My grandfather was called William Cooper, and he lived in Luton, Bedfordshire. I am trying to establish if there is a family link. Can anyone help?
Mar 21, 2016 8:43:15 GMT -6
bigcoop: I am exactly the same hieght 6'3".
Oct 16, 2015 1:27:47 GMT -6
Coopsgirl: Ironhero, I do not have the rights to any of the pictures on this site. I just find them and repost them. Good luck with your book!
Sept 27, 2015 14:29:37 GMT -6
ironhero: Hey Coopsgirl...I'm working on a book about "pride of the Yankees," and wondering about the photos on this site...they're incredible! Can you advise me on which ones may be public domain and which you had to license?
Sept 25, 2015 13:35:26 GMT -6
Coopsgirl: I've been busy doing yard work today so I'll update Monday!
May 31, 2015 16:22:37 GMT -6