Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Gary Cooper’s Last Movie


On June 28, 1961, Helena’s Marlow Theater hosted the world premiere of hometown actor Gary Cooper’s last movie, The Naked Edge.

Marlow Theater manager Gene Brown on the day of the premiere of The Naked Edge. Note the Gary Cooper movie posters at left. Photo via Helena As She Was.
Local press touted the murder mystery as one of the best money makers in the industry and noted that earnings had been earmarked for cancer research. It was a bittersweet celebration since Cooper had died of lung cancer the month before. The affair was dignified and a departure from the usual movie premieres. The final 13 minutes of the film had the audience gripping the edges of their seats and the ending, according to the Helena newspapers, “left them limp in the air conditioned theater.”

Via Wikipedia.com
Acquaintances of Cooper noted that the actor appeared wan and old. Little wonder, they said, since he had to muster tremendous strength to complete filming the final scenes. Before the screening of the film, Alfred “Pee Wee” Weber and his Last Chance Gulch Serenaders presented a new song entitled My Montana Memories. The song, dedicated to Cooper, expressed sentiments about Montana that were in keeping with Cooper’s nostalgic feelings about his native state. Acting Governor Tim Babcock read the Cooper Day proclamation. The festivities were recorded for Cooper’s mother who was in Los Angeles and too ill to attend. Secretary of State Frank Murray called the day historic, noting that the dark spot was that Montana’s own native son was not there to celebrate. As the credits flashed on the screen at the end of the film, the crowd burst into applause in a sincere tribute to a Helena man who made good. Gary Cooper is still remembered by his hometown.

In the Marlow lobby at the premiere of The Naked Edge. Photo via Helena As She Was.


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