May 7, 2008

"Beau Geste" & Gary Cooper

Gary Cooper began his career in Westerns -

It was Steve Martin who said, "Those French have a word for everything." I love to hear French spoken and I'm having a great time learning the meaning of phrases that have made their way into American culture.

The phrase "beau geste" immediately connects me to the classic 1939 motion picture by the same name and to one of my favorite actors, Gary Cooper. In addition to Gary's beautiful eyes and handsome charm, he had a masculine vulnerability that appealed to audiences—including me.

Robert Preston, Gary Cooper, and Ray Milland in Beau Geste -

beau geste \boh-ZHEST\ noun

Meaning: *1 : a graceful or magnanimous gesture 2 : an ingratiating conciliatory gesture

Example Sentence: Rather than compete against his best friend for the scholarship, Brayden gallantly stepped aside, a beau geste that Anthony never forgot.

Did you know? "Beau geste" is a phrase borrowed from French; the literal translation is "beautiful gesture." Beau Geste is also the title of a 1924 novel by Percival Christopher Wren, featuring three English brothers who join the French Foreign Legion to repair their family honor. The novel spawned several film versions, including one starring Gary Cooper. Wren didn't invent the phrase "beau geste," which first appeared in print in 1900, but the publicity surrounding the novel and subsequent films likely contributed to the expression's popularity.

*Indicates the sense illustrated in the example sentence.

© 2008 by Merriam-Webster, Incorporated

Gary was born Frank James Cooper on May 7, 1901 in Helena, Montana. He died on May 13, 1961 in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California of prostate cancer.

Gary Cooper in a Norman Rockwell Painting -
Mini Biography from The Internet Movie Database (IMDb)
"Dad was a true Westerner, and I take after him", Gary Cooper told people who wanted to know more about his life before Hollywood. Dad was Charles Henry Cooper, who left his native England at 19, became a lawyer and later a Montana State Supreme Court justice. In 1906, when Gary was 5, his dad bought the Seven-Bar-Nine, a 600-acre ranch that had originally been a land grant to the builders of the railroad through that part of Montana. In 1910, Gary's mother, who had been ill, was advised to take a long sea voyage by her doctor. She went to England and stayed there until the United States entered World War I. Gary and his older brother Arthur stayed with their mother and went to school in England for seven years. Too young to go to war, Gary spent the war years working on his father's ranch. "Getting up at 5 o'clock in the morning in the dead of winter to feed 450 head of cattle and shoveling manure at 40 below ain't romantic", said the man who would take the Western to the top of its genre in High Noon (1952). So well liked was Cooper that he aroused little envy when, in 1939, the U.S. Treasury Department said that he was the nation's top wage earner. That year he earned $482,819. This tall, silent hero was the American ideal for many people of his generation. Ernest Hemingway who lived his novels before he wrote them, was happy to have Gary Cooper play his protagonists in A Farewell to Arms (1932) and For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943).

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the French lesson:>) And thanks for your comments on my birthday. I remember your party! We do have a lot in common, Briana was a name we almost chose for eldest daughter! Isn't that funny? It never ceases to amaze me the coincidences and commonalities I find in blogging. Have a great Mothers Day weekend KJ!


Thanks for stopping by!
♫ Karen