GOP Establishment Win in N.C., Russia's Real Worry; Gary Cooper's HUAC High Noon

GOP Establishment Win in N.C., Russia's Real Worry; Gary Cooper's HUAC High Noon

By Carl M. Cannon - May 7, 2014

Good morning.  It’s Wednesday, May 7, 2014. President Obama heads to Arkansas this morning to tour parts of the state devastated by recent tornadoes, before heading to California for a Democratic Party fundraiser in Los Angeles and the USC Shoah Foundation dinner.

On Capitol Hill, pressure is building on Congress to find funds for traditional summer highway construction projects, but it won’t be easy. White House press secretary Jay Carney officially took off the table an election-year increase in the gasoline tax, and House Speaker John Boehner earlier ruled out a transfer of money from the U.S. Treasury’s general fund to the depleted Highway Trust Fund.

On this date in 1901, a Montana ranching couple, Alice and Charles Cooper, welcomed a second son into the world. They named their baby Frank, but the world would come to know him as Gary Cooper, the star of so many A-list pictures: “The Virginian,”  “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town,” and “Sergeant York,” as well as “Pride of the Yankees,” “The Fountainhead” and “High Noon.”

The actor’s real-life High Noon – or one of them, anyway -- came when testifying as a “friendly” witness before the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

I’ll have more on Gary Cooper in a moment. First, I’d direct you to RealClearPolitics’ front page, which aggregates stories and columns from across the political spectrum. In addition, we offer a complement of original material from RCP reporters and contributors today, including the following:


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Thom Tillis Takes N.C. Primary in Win for GOP Establishment. Scott Conroy has the story from Charlotte. 

Russia Is Worried About the Wrong Neighbor. In RealClearWorld, Edward Goldberg argues that Vladimir Putin is exhausting his country's fortune and reputation on Ukraine while ignoring the economic threat posed by China. 

10 Most Costly Medical Conditions in the U.S. RealClearScience editor Ross Pomeroy compiled this slide show

Top 10 Most Undeserved Nicknames. For every aptly dubbed superstar (Air Jordan) there seems to be at least one pathetic misnomer (Sanchise). In RealClearSports, Robby Brumberg and Brian Colella produced this ignominious list.

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The first thing moviegoers, men or women, noticed about Gary Cooper was how preternaturally handsome he was. Leading men usually boast rugged good looks or fine-boned features. Cooper had both. The second thing was that voice, or rather, that accent. How did a Montana cowboy come to talk that way, exactly?

There was no mystery to it. His mother looked down her nose at the education her sons might obtain in early 20th century Helena, so they were sent to Britain and Gary retained some of the speech patterns he learned there.

Returning to the United States after World War I, he was enrolled at Gallatin Valley High School in Bozeman.

After graduation, he pursued his studies at Grinnell College in Iowa, where he did not obtain a degree and where, to the school’s eternal regret, the drama club didn’t accept him. Returning to his family’s Montana ranch, he freelanced cartoons to the local newspaper and did other odd jobs. In 1924, his father stepped down from the bench -- he’d been on the state Supreme Court -- to practice law in Southern California.

Editorial cartooning wasn’t paying the bills, so their youngest son decided to join his parents despite uncertain prospects out West, explaining later that he’d decided he “would rather starve where it was warm, than to starve and freeze too.”

In Los Angeles, he was “discovered,” in the parlance of the times, and became an A-list movie star. Along with his impressive body of film work, Cooper built a reputation as an accomplished philanderer, too, linked with many of the great female stars of his era.

He converted to Catholicism in 1958 and reconciled with his wife and daughter. It was just in time. A diagnosis of cancer was right around the corner, and he would die in 1961, shortly after his 60th birthday.

Gary Cooper was far from a perfect man, but he was someone with a knack for making the best of any situation. Not content merely to star in Ernest Hemingway novels-turned-into-movies (“A Farewell to Arms” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls”), he also befriended Hemingway. Testifying before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, he spoke disparagingly of the Communist influence in Hollywood, but he did not name names.

He even turned career mistakes to his advantage. Before World War II, Cooper turned down the role of Rhett Butler, declaiming publicly that “Gone With the Wind” would be “the biggest flop in Hollywood history. I’m glad it’ll be Clark Gable who’s falling flat on his nose, not me.”

“Cooper would later eat his words,” Hollywood historian Anne Helen Petersen later wrote, “but he recovered from the embarrassment by hanging out with Hemingway, shooting and fishing around Sun Valley (and inviting Life Magazine to come along). How very Gary Cooper of him.”

Carl M. Cannon
Washington Bureau Chief
Twitter: @CarlCannon

Carl M. Cannon is the Washington Bureau Chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.

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