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If You Thought You Knew Her, You Were Mistaken,
This review is from: Gladys Cooper (Hardcover)
For those who thought that Dame Gladys Cooper was only the character actress who played grande dames and dowagers, this book is a real eye-opener. Cooper was one of the most collected postcard stars during WWI, and by the time she arrived in Hollywood, she had been acting for almost forty years and had run her own theatre.
Sheridan Morley, her grandson, wrote this book with great love, yet it is surprisingly clear-eyed. She was not an easy woman to get along with, but her family and friends seem to have accepted this as part of her special allure. She was tough yet generous, loving yet cool. The book includes numerous photographs of Miss Cooper throughout her life and career, from her early days as a stunningly beautiful beginner through to her final performance, when she was still quite lovely for all the years lived showing through her eyes. Life was meant to be lived full throttle and retiring was for wimps as far as Cooper was concerned. She only stepped down when illness forced her, much against her will, and she died only a few weeks afterward.
Anyone sitting down with this book is in for some surprises, especially if they only ever thought of Gladys Cooper as the elderly lady in the Twilight Zone episode, or as Charlotte Vale's imperious mother in Now, Voyager. There was MUCH more to her, as this biography will attest - just the sheer number of roles that she originated on stage (Kiki and the lead in The Letter to name just two) is worth the price of admission. I was amazed at how beautiful she was in her earlier days, and just how little I knew about this lady with whom I thought I was familiar.