Silent movies and, occasionally, Robert Montgomery.

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Vilma Bánky and Gary Cooper in The Winning of Barbara Worth, 1926

"At six foot four, with brown hair and chiseled if irregular features, the young man appealed to Frances [Marion] immediately. Hedda Hopper claimed that he was so "her type" of man that when Frances first saw him standing against the wall of the studio building, ‘she gave him a second look and as she went through the door, even risked a third.’
Twenty-four-year-old Frank Cooper was a judge’s son from Helena, Montana, who had so far succeeded only in landing a few jobs as an extra, but he ‘had his heart and soul set on playing Abe Lee [in The Winning of Barbara Worth].’ He had paid twenty-five dollars to have his own screen test made, but it only showed him riding and dismounting a horse and neither [Henry] King nor [Samuel] Goldwyn thought very much of it.
Frances concluded it was because male stars still tended to be ‘pretty boys’; the director and producer didn’t think women would be attracted to what she was the first to admit was a ‘gaunt, slow moving self conscious young man.’ But knowing how both she and Sam [Goldwyn]’s secretary had reacted to him, Frances suggested organizing a screening of his and other actors’ tests in front of a group of female office workers at the studio. The immediate response from their collective libido proved that the two women were not alone and Frank Cooper, changing his first name to Gary so that he would not be confused with another actor with the same name, was hired at fifty dollars a week.”

Excerpt from Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood, by Cari Beauchamp
I posted another angle on this anecdote some time back; it’s here if you’re interested.
(image via Dr. Macro)

Vilma Bánky and Gary Cooper in The Winning of Barbara Worth, 1926

"At six foot four, with brown hair and chiseled if irregular features, the young man appealed to Frances [Marion] immediately. Hedda Hopper claimed that he was so "her type" of man that when Frances first saw him standing against the wall of the studio building, ‘she gave him a second look and as she went through the door, even risked a third.’

Twenty-four-year-old Frank Cooper was a judge’s son from Helena, Montana, who had so far succeeded only in landing a few jobs as an extra, but he ‘had his heart and soul set on playing Abe Lee [in The Winning of Barbara Worth].’ He had paid twenty-five dollars to have his own screen test made, but it only showed him riding and dismounting a horse and neither [Henry] King nor [Samuel] Goldwyn thought very much of it.

Frances concluded it was because male stars still tended to be ‘pretty boys’; the director and producer didn’t think women would be attracted to what she was the first to admit was a ‘gaunt, slow moving self conscious young man.’ But knowing how both she and Sam [Goldwyn]’s secretary had reacted to him, Frances suggested organizing a screening of his and other actors’ tests in front of a group of female office workers at the studio. The immediate response from their collective libido proved that the two women were not alone and Frank Cooper, changing his first name to Gary so that he would not be confused with another actor with the same name, was hired at fifty dollars a week.”

Excerpt from Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood, by Cari Beauchamp

I posted another angle on this anecdote some time back; it’s here if you’re interested.

(image via Dr. Macro)

  • 12 September 2011
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