How Cowboy Legend Gary Cooper Found Peace in the Outdoors, According to His Daughter

by Samantha Whidden

Sixty years after her father Gary Cooper passed away from an aggressive form of prostate cancer, the western actor’s daughter is opening up about how he lived his life during the final years. 

While promoting her new book Gary Cooper Off Camera: A Daughter Remembers, Gary Cooper’s daughter, Maria Cooper Janis, opens up to Fox News about how she is keeping her father’s legacy alive. “In terms of Hollywood heroes, I think they’re in short supply these days. They certainly exist. But regarding my father, someone once asked him why he choose the roles that he did.”

Cooper Janis also states that Cooper wanted to choose the best roles that an American man can be. “That was his goal when he looked at a script,” the late actor’s daughter explains. 

Cooper Janis further explains she is hoping the younger generation doesn’t forget the history of Hollywood. “[Gary Cooper] did become an American icon and stood for something. But ultimately, he understood the differences between being a celebrity and being a star,” the actor’s daughter says.

She then reveals that while there’s a lot of celebrities, she doesn’t know about that star aspect that Gary Cooper had. “There are a lot fewer. So I hope that the public will learn the difference.”

Gary Cooper’s Preferred Hobby Included Being Outdoors 

In regards to her father’s hobbies, Cooper’s daughter goes on to add that he preferred being outdoors and enjoying time on his tractor.

“In our house, he planted all sorts of fruits and vegetables. We had a tractor and my father would be out there driving it… He was more impressed by work ethic and talent. Did he enjoy meeting the queen and Princess Margaret? Sure. He didn’t like getting dressed up for it, though.”

A major influence on Cooper’s love of the outdoors came from his upbringing.

“He was from Helena, Montana. He grew up on a ranch. They had about 500 head of cattle. He would say, ‘You know, when you’re up at 4 in the morning trying to break the ice so the animals can drink and then you’re shoveling manure – it keeps you grounded,” she said.

Cooper’s Daughter Reveals What He Truly Thought About Hollywood Back in the Day 

Also during her interview with Fox News, Cooper’s daughter shares what the late actor actually thought about Hollywood. “He loved the industry and the lifelong friends he made. But more importantly, he loved the craft of making films. He was always pushing himself.”

The actor’s daughter also proclaimed that he was a natural in westerns because the genre’s films were his roots. “I think he could have fallen asleep riding a horse,” she jokes. “He was so comfortable on horseback.” 

She then recalls how it was important for Cooper to perform for U.S. troops, but he was nervous during his first tour. “He said, ‘I don’t dance. I don’t sing. I can’t tell funny jokes. What am I going to do? What can I possibly give?”

The actor’s daughter also said that despite the nervousness and shyness, Cooper just wanted to give back to the troops. So he said the famous farewell speech from 1942’s The Pride of the Yankees. “Every stop he made, all the troops wanted to hear that speech. And it’s an emotional speech. It made my father very emotional. How many of those young boys would come back home after hearing his speech, you know?”