Merian C. Cooper
American aviator, actor, director and producer
Merian C. Cooper
Merian Caldwell Cooper was an American aviator, United States Air Force and Polish Air Force officer, adventurer, screenwriter, film director and producer. His most famous film was the 1933 movie King Kong.
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Hollywood magic-maker teamed with his father in early epics - The Age
Google News - over 5 years
Originally conceived by Merian Cooper and British thriller writer Edgar Wallace as a low-budget B-movie, King Kong became an enormous box-office hit, making a star of its female lead, Fay Wray. A crucial part of the picture's popular appeal lay in
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Por Juan Forn - Página 12
Google News - over 5 years
El judío de Odessa se llamaba Isaak Babel, el piloto norteamericano Merian Cooper, la película King Kong. Como bien se sabe, los padres de Babel querían que su hijo fuese violinista, o al menos oficial contable, pero él sólo quería escribir
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Agenda cultural - LaRepública.pe
Google News - over 5 years
15. King Kong. Dir. Merian Cooper y Ernest Schoedsack. CC Cafae. av. Arequipa 2985, San Isidro 7:30 pm. Libre. Comente, analice, critique de manera seria. Mensajes con contenido vulgar, difamatorio o que no tenga que ver con el tema, serán eliminados
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Home Video
NYTimes - over 21 years
Two weeks ago, rival electronics and entertainment companies announced agreement on a single content and production standard for the digital video disk (DVD). For video consumers, the news reinforces the possibility that they will eventually watch movies on compact disks that resemble audio CD's. Since some analysts say these disks, which are to be
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Merian C. Cooper
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 1973
    Age 79
    Cooper died of cancer on April 21, 1973 in San Diego.
    More Details Hide Details His ashes were scattered at sea with full military honors.
  • FIFTIES
  • 1952
    Age 58
    Cooper was awarded an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement in 1952.
    More Details Hide Details His film The Quiet Man was nominated for Best Picture that year, but lost to Cecil B. DeMille's The Greatest Show on Earth. Cooper has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, though his first name is misspelled "Meriam".
  • 1946
    Age 52
    Cooper and his friend and frequent collaborator, noted director John Ford, formed Argosy Productions in 1946 and produced such notable films as Wagon Master (1950), Ford's Fort Apache (1948) and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon.
    More Details Hide Details Cooper was also the executive producer for The Searchers (1956), again directed by Ford. Cooper's films at Argosy reflected his patriotism and his vision of America. Argosy negotiated a contract with RKO in 1946 to make four pictures. Cooper was able to make Grass a complete picture. Argosy also produced Mighty Joe Young, which brought in Schoedsack as director. Cooper visited the set of the film everyday to check on progress. Cooper left Argosy Pictures to pursue the process of Cinerama. He became the vice president of Cinerama Productions in the 1950s. He was also elected a board member. This move was also short-lived, however, and Cooper left to form C.V. Whitney Productions, although he continued to outline movies to be shot in Cinerama. C.V. Whitney Productions only produced a few films. For his military service to Poland, Cooper was awarded the Silver Cross of the Order of Virtuti Militari (presented by Piłsudski), and Poland's Cross of Valour.
  • FORTIES
  • 1943
    Age 49
    He served then from 1943 to 1945 in the Southwest Pacific as chief of staff for the Fifth Air Force's Bomber Command.
    More Details Hide Details At the end of the war, he was promoted to brigadier general. For his contributions, he was also aboard the USS Missouri to witness Japan's surrender.
  • 1937
    Age 43
    After resigning from Selznick International, Cooper went to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) in June 1937.
    More Details Hide Details Cooper's most successful film at MGM was War Eagles. The film was postponed during World War II, and Cooper returned to the Air Force. The film was abandoned, however, and never finished. Cooper re-enlisted and was commissioned a colonel in the U.S. Army Air Forces. He served with Col. Robert L. Scott in India. He worked as logistics liaison for the Doolittle Raid. After, Cooper and Scott worked with Col. Caleb V. Haynes at Dinjan Airfield. They all were involved in setting up the Assam-Burma-China Ferrying Command. This marked the beginnings of The Hump Airlift. He later served in China as chief of staff for General Claire Chennault of the China Air Task Force, which was the precursor of the Fourteenth Air Force.
    Cooper didn't stay long; he resigned in 1937 due to disagreements over the film Stagecoach.
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  • 1935
    Age 41
    He resigned from the board of directors in 1935, following health complications.
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  • 1934
    Age 40
    He was named vice president in charge of production for Pioneer Pictures in 1934.
    More Details Hide Details He would use Pioneer Pictures to test his technicolor innovations. The company contracted with RKO in order to fulfill Cooper's obligations to the company, including She and The Last Days of Pompeii. Cooper later referred to She as the "worst picture I ever made." After these disappointments, Pioneer Pictures released a short film in three-strip technicolor called La Cucaracha which was well received. The film even won a 1934 Academy Award. Pioneer released the first full-length technicolor film, Becky Sharp in 1935. Cooper helped to advocate and pave the way for the ground breaking-technology of technicolor, as well as the widescreen process Cinerama. Selznick formed Selznick International Pictures in 1935, and Pioneer Pictures merged with him in June 1936. Cooper became the vice president of Selznick International Pictures that same year.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1933
    Age 39
    Cooper was the father of Polish translator and writer Maciej Słomczyński. He married film actress Dorothy Jordan on May 27, 1933.
    More Details Hide Details They kept their marriage a secret from Hollywood for a month before it was reported by journalists. He suffered a heart attack later that year. In the 1950s he supported Joseph McCarthy in his crusade to root out Communists in Hollywood and Washington, D.C. Cooper himself founded Advanced Projects in his later life. He was the chairman of the board. He wanted to explore new technologies like 3-D color television productions.
    Cooper helped the Whitney cousins form Pioneer Pictures in 1933, while he was still working for RKO.
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    Selznick left RKO before the release of King Kong, and Cooper served with Pan Berman as production head from 1933 to 1934.
    More Details Hide Details In the 2005 remake of King Kong, upon learning that Fay Wray was not available because she was making a film at RKO, Carl Denham (Jack Black) replies, "Cooper, huh? I might have known."
    According to Hollywood folklore, the decision was made after previews in January 1933, during which audience members either fled the theater in terror or talked about the ghastly scene throughout the remainder of the movie.
    More Details Hide Details However, more objective sources maintain that the scene merely slowed the film's pace. Legend has it that Cooper kept a print of the cut footage as a memento, although it has never been found. Cooper would later fight for the rights to King Kong.
    In the 1933 version of King Kong, Cooper and co-director Ernest B. Schoedsack appear at the end, piloting the plane that finally finishes off Kong.
    More Details Hide Details Cooper had reportedly said, "We should kill the sonofabitch ourselves." Cooper personally cut a scene in King Kong in which four sailors are shaken off a rope bridge by Kong, fall into a ravine, and are eaten alive by giant spiders.
  • 1932
    Age 38
    The screenplay was delivered to Cooper in January 1932.
    More Details Hide Details Schoedsack contributed to the film, focusing on shooting scenes for the boat sequences and in native villages, leaving Cooper to shoot the jungle scenes. In February 1933, the title for the film was registered for copyright. Throughout filming there were creative battles. Critics at RKO argued that the film begin with Kong. Cooper believed that a film should begin with a "slow dramatic buildup that would establish everything from characters to mood " so that the action of the film could "naturally, relentlessly, roll on our of its own creative movement," and thus chose to not begin the film with a shot of Kong. The iconic scene in which Kong is on top of the Empire State Building was almost called off by Cooper for legal reasons, but was kept in the film by RKO's buying the rights of The Lost World.
  • 1931
    Age 37
    He officially pitched the idea for King Kong in December 1931.
    More Details Hide Details Shortly after he began to scope out actors and build full-scale sets, although the screenplay was not yet complete.
    Selznick became the vice president of RKO and asked Cooper to join him in September 1931, although he had only produced 3 films thus far in his career.
    More Details Hide Details Cooper began working as an executive assistant.
    By 1931, he was back in Hollywood.
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  • 1929
    Age 35
    While he was on the board, Cooper did not devote his full attention to the organization; he took time in 1929 and 1930 to work on the script for King Kong.
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  • 1926
    Age 32
    Between 1926 and 1927, Cooper discussed the plans for Pan American Airways with John Hambleton, which was formed during 1927.
    More Details Hide Details Cooper was a member of the board of directors of Pan American Airways. During his tenure at Pan Am, the company established the first regularly scheduled transatlantic service.
  • 1925
    Age 31
    Cooper became a member of the Explorers Club of New York in January 1925 and was asked to give lectures and attend events due to his extensive traveling.
    More Details Hide Details Grass was acquired by Paramount Pictures. This first film of Cooper and Schoedsack gained the attention of Jesse Lasky, who commissioned the duo for their second film, Chang (1927). They also produced the film The Four Feathers, which was filmed among the fighting tribes of the Sudan. These films combined real footage with staged sequences.
  • 1924
    Age 30
    After returning home, Cooper researched for the American Geographical Society. In 1924, Cooper joined Schoedsack and Marguerite Harrison began a filmed expedition that would be turned into the film Grass (1925).
    More Details Hide Details They returned later the same year.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1923
    Age 29
    His three-part series for Asia was published in 1923.
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  • 1921
    Age 27
    After returning from overseas in 1921, Cooper got a job working the night shift at The New York Times.
    More Details Hide Details He was commissioned to write articles for Asia magazine. Cooper was able to travel with Ernest Schoedsack on a sea voyage on the Wisdom II. As part of the journey, he traveled to Abyssinia, an Ethiopian Empire, where he even met their golden prince. The ship left Abyssinia in February 1923. On their way home, the crew narrowly missed being attacked by pirates, and the ship was burned down.
  • 1919
    Age 25
    An Interbellum Polish film directed by Leonard Buczkowski, Gwiaździsta eskadra (The Starry Squadron), was inspired by Cooper's experiences as a Polish Air Force officer during the Polish-Soviet War of 1919–21.
    More Details Hide Details The film was made with the cooperation of the Polish army and was the most expensive Polish film prior to World War II. After World War II, all copies of the film in Poland were destroyed by the Soviets.
    From late 1919 until the 1921 Treaty of Riga, Cooper was a member of a volunteer American flight squadron, the Kościuszko Squadron, which supported the Polish Army in the Polish-Soviet War.
    More Details Hide Details On July 13, 1920, his plane was shot down, and he spent nearly 9 months in a Soviet prisoner of war camp, where he was interviewed by the writer Isaac Babel. He escaped just before the war was over and made it to Latvia. For valor he was decorated by Polish commander-in-chief Józef Piłsudski with the highest Polish military decoration, the Virtuti Militari. During his time as a POW, Cooper wrote an autobiography: Things Men Die For. The manuscript was published by G. P. Putnam's Sons in New York (the Knickerbocker Press) in 1927. However, in 1928 Cooper regretted releasing certain details about "Nina" (Małgorzata Słomczyńska) who he had had relations with outside of wedlock. Cooper then asked Dagmar Matson, who had the manuscript, to buy all the copies of the book possible. Matson found almost all 5,000 copies that had been printed. The books were destroyed, while Cooper and Dagmar each kept a copy. Nina was sent money on Cooper's behalf every month until he died.
  • 1918
    Age 24
    On September 26, 1918, his plane was shot down.
    More Details Hide Details The plane caught fire, while Cooper was still inside; he spun the plane to suck the flames out. He suffered burns and injured his hands. Cooper survived, although his general signed a death certificate for him. He was helped by German soldiers and was taken to a prisoner reserve hospital. Captain Cooper remained in the Air Service after the war; he helped with Herbert Hoover's American Food Administration that provided aid in Poland. He later became the head of the Poland division.
  • 1917
    Age 23
    In October 1917, Cooper went to France with the 201st Squadron.
    More Details Hide Details He attended flying school in Issoudun. While flying with his friend, Cooper hit his head and was knocked out during a 200-foot plunge. After the incident, Cooper suffered from shock and had to relearn how to fly. Copper requested to go to Clermont-Ferrand to be trained as a bomber pilot. He became a pilot on the 20th Aero Squadron (which later became the 1st Day Bombardment Group). Cooper served as a DH-4 bomber pilot with the United States Army Air Service during World War I.
    He was called home in March 1917.
    More Details Hide Details He worked for the El Paso Herald on a 30-day leave of absence. After returning to his service, Cooper was appointed lieutenant; however, he turned down the appointment hoping to participate in combat. Instead, he went to the Military Aeronautics School in Atlanta to learn to fly. Cooper graduated from the school as the top in his class.
  • 1916
    Age 22
    In 1916, Cooper joined the Georgia National Guard to help chase Pancho Villa in Mexico.
    More Details Hide Details
  • TEENAGE
  • 1911
    Age 17
    Cooper graduated high school in 1911.
    More Details Hide Details After graduating, Cooper received a prestigious appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy, but resigned during his senior year in a dispute over his belief in air power which the Navy did not share. He then went to work for the Minneapolis Daily News as a reporter. He only stayed there for 6 months because, after branching into the world of journalism, he went on to work at the Des Moines Register-Leader as well as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
    He was educated at The Lawrenceville School in New Jersey and graduated in 1911.
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  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1893
    Born
    Born on October 24, 1893.
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