Born Frank James Cooper in Montana, 1901. Gary Cooper briefly attended school in England before returning to Montana, later studying at Grinnell College in Iowa. Before taking up acting he was a guide at Yellowstone National Park, a failed political cartoonist and a door-to-door salesman.
He then spent over a year as an extra in numerous Westerns, and subsequently had minor roles in minor films before The Winning Of Barbara Worth (1926), in which Cooper was a last-minute replacement for the second lead.
As his star rose he became the archetypal American hero of the era: strong, tall, handsome, and taciturn. He won two Oscars, for Sergeant York and High Noon, plus a special award shortly before his death in 1961.