Gary Cooper's Private Family Photos Reveal a Fashion Icon
A new book of unpublished photos from his daughter, Maria Janis, showcases the actor's style.
In 1946, when Irving Berlin rewrote the lyrics to his 1928 hit “Puttin’ on the Ritz” he added a shout out to Gary Cooper’s style: “Dressed up like a million-dollar trouper/Tryin’ hard to look like Gary Cooper/Super Duper.”
Now 65 years later a new book of family photos reminds the world why the star was such a fashion icon. Maria Janis, Cooper’s only child, teamed up with noted men’s fashion writer Bruce Boyer and Ralph Lauren for Gary Cooper: Enduring Style (powerHouse Books, 200 pages, $60), which features 150 photographs of the actor and essays on his sense of style.
In an interview, Janis told The Hollywood Reporter that most of the photographs come from her private collection and have never been seen by the public.
“My mother was a shutterbug. She took pictures all the time—going back to even before they were married.” She says her father had a natural sense of style and chose his own wardrobe without the help of stylists.
To promote the book’s publication, Janis is appearing at West Hollywood’s Book Soup on Friday, December 2 from 7-9 p.m. to talk about her father and to sign copies of the book.
Gary Cooper: Enduring Style celebrates the actor as a timeless fashion icon. Boyer writes that Cooper had “his own debonair style that combined a perfectly tailored European wardrobe with all-American casual sportswear to produce the first, and still finest example of elegant, international, masculine style rooted in an American ideal of the everyman as hero.”
It’s an opinion shared by Ralph Lauren, who calls Cooper the “definitive” male style icon of the 1940s. “He had an ideal American look—unstudied yet refined, natural, and playful.”
Janis says one thing that would surprise people about her dad was that he actually made clothes. “He made me a wonderful little buckskin jacket with the fringe and all of that.” Janis also remembers him making “his own Indian moccasins, which he loved to wear around the house.” Cooper would cut the leather and do the stitching himself. To get the right fit, he would wear the shoes in warm water and then let them dry around his feet. “You had the most comfortable moccasins that could ever exist. I [still] have a pair of those.”
View a preview of images from the book here.