Sunday, March 10, 2013

Cooper, Rainer and The Beverly Wilshire Hotel

Lobby of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, Beverly Hills

Gary Cooper didn't waste any time going from silent film stunt man to the top leading man of the silver screen. With his tall, handsome looks and "aw shucks" attitude, Cooper charmed both women and men alike. He was the kind of guy audiences would pay to see. Cooper, who grew up in wild west Montana but spent a few years living in Bedfordshire, England to attend grammar school, developed qualities that made him believable playing both cowboys and refined urban characters. He would evolve into the image of the ideal American, even playing  a few real life American icons, including Sergeant York and Lou Gehrig. It's no surprise that even off screen Cooper attracted those around him, especially the ladies.

One of those ladies was German actress Luise Rainer. According to Jeffrey Meyers biography Gary Cooper: American Hero, Rainer, after seeing Cooper in the film A Farewell to Arms, was inspired to come to Hollywood. Meyers writes that "when she saw him in the lobby of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, she felt weak at the knees and was ready to surrender." Above is a contemporary image of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel lobby, but I much prefer this image below that shows how the lobby would have looked closer to the time Rainer first met Cooper there.

Beverly Wilshire Hotel lobby, probably late 1920s.
Photo: LAPL

The Beverly Wilshire Hotel, located at 9500 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, was built in 1928. It has always been a luxury hotel that appealed to Hollywood's elite. Some classic movie legends have even lived in the hotel at various times, including actors Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy, who like Cooper, had their fair share of affairs. The hotel has even been used as a filming location, most famously in Pretty Woman (1990), starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts.

Gary Cooper and Luise Rainer

Meyers goes on to quote actor Richard Widmark as saying that Cooper "was catnip to the ladies" and that director Stuart Heisler said, "Coop was probably the greatest cocksman that ever lived. They fell over themselves to get him to take them to bed" - just like Rainer, at the site of Cooper, was ready to "surrender" herself in the  hotel lobby.


Unknown said...

I am a huge Barbara Stanwyck fan so naturally I fell in love with Coop's shy, sweet and somewhat gullable sense in Meet John Doe and later Ball of Fire. He definately has his own sense of character which will never be duplicated. I look forward to catching all of his films soon.

Silver Screenings said...

That is some crazy pattern they've got on the B.W.H. ceiling in the earlier photo. I think it would make you dizzy if you looked at it for too long.


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