- Bruce J. Evensen
Cooper, Gary (07 May 1901–13 May 1961), film actor, was born Frank James Cooper in Helena, Montana, the son of Charles Henry Cooper, a lawyer, and Alice Louise Brazier. The actor, beloved for playing the all-American hero, was raised on a 600-acre ranch near the Big Belt Mountains at a bend in the Missouri River by parents born in Britain. Cooper unreliably attended a one-room schoolhouse his father built on the property and much preferred to play with local Indians and ranch hands. He sometimes swam naked in Andy’s Creek with his first girlfriend, Mary Three Feet, standing by. This horrified his mother, who insisted that he and his brother Arthur be schooled in Helena. Cooper’s truancy forced the family into a radical course. The boys were enrolled in the Dunstable School in Bedfordshire, England, in 1911 under the watchful eyes of their paternal grandparents. Charles and Alice Cooper remained in Helena, where Charles served as a justice on the state supreme court. During his three years in England their son earned a reputation as headstrong and voluble....