DREW’S 10 Favorite books to take with her to a Desert Island (Media added by me).
Who knew that Drew Barrymore likes Hemingway?
On her list of her 10 favorite books that she’d take if marooned on a desert island she had Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. Her comment was “I defy a woman to read this and not cry. It is so romantic, and epic – even when it takes place in one room.”
Since I’m sure you’re curious by now, the other 9 were the following:
The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz. “This is a book I found at a very hard time in my life and it rescued me. It offers succinct and approachable advice about how to behave in life.”
Still Life with Woodpecker, by Tom Robbins. “A love story that’s filled with poetic analogy, this man speaks in strange and delicious descriptions.”
Endurance, by Alfred Lansing. “This taught me that if you lead, you need to take peoples personalities into account when you guide them. Shackleton is a brilliant hero.”
Frannie and Zoey, by J.D. Salinger. “This book surprised me. I didn’t see it coming and yet it wasn’t trying to trick me; it made me feel like a welcome fly on the wall.”
Holidays on Ice, by David Sedaris. “If anyone knows what it’s like to be alone on Christmas I’m sure they will have wished they had this book. It’s a humor guide for what could seem lonely and it sets you up for joy.”
Women, by Charles Bukowski. “Bukowski is my favorite, for me he was always on point.”
Full of Life, by John Fante. “This mans perspective of the journey of pregnancy and birth is an eye opener into the member of the other sexes perspective.”
Oh The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss. “Because you sometimes need to be reminded your journey is meaningful in the sweetest way. Hope for all ages.”
All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, by Robert Fulghum. “Even as adults we need to be forced to go back to basics. This book is nostalgic but makes you think.”
And then of course, rounding at the list, A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway.
So! What say you? Are these the 100 Greatest Novels ever? There can only be one per author (Explaining why there is only one Hemingway novel on the list!) These are not in any order of greatness but are merely alphabetical. So here you go. PBS has put this together so read Jay Oliver’s article. Interesting!
email@example.com May 23, 2018
Using the public opinion polling service “YouGov,” PBS and its producers conducted a demographically and statistically representative survey asking around 7,200 Americans to name their most-loved title, according to the web page. PBS said tallied results were organized by an advisory panel of 13 literary professionals.
Criteria allowed for works of fiction from all over the world, as long as the novels were published in English. They allowed only one title per author.
Reporters and editors in the Yakima Herald-Republic’s newsroom were given copies of the list to find out which titles were the most popular — and to see who’s read the most from their newsroom staff.
The most widely read title by newsroom respondents is Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Two books tied as the second most-read — “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” by Mark Twain and E.B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web” — while George Orwell’s “1984” was the third most widely read in the newsroom.
John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” and “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens tied with C.S. Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia” series as the fourth most read titles.
Rounding out the top five was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” which was read by as many folks as two other series — J.R.R. Tolkein’s “The Lord of the Rings” and “Harry Potter” from J.K. Rowling.
Here’s the List (alphabetical not by greatest of the great.)
1984 by George Orwell
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Alex Cross Mysteries (series) by James Patterson
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Another Country by James Baldwin
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
The Chronicles of Narnia (series) by C.S. Lewis
The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel
The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
Doña Bárbara by Rómulo Gallegos
Dune by Frank Herbert
Fifty Shades of Grey (series) by E.L. James
Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
Foundation (series) by Isaac Asimov
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Games of Thrones (series) by George R.R. Martin
Ghost by Jason Reynolds
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Godfather by Mario Puzo
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling
Hatchet (series) by Gary Paulsen
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The Hunger Games (series) by Suzanne Collins
The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy
The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
Left Behind (series) by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
Looking for Alaska by John Green
The Lord of the Rings (series) by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Martian by Andy Weir
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Mind Invaders by Dave Hunt
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
Outlander (series) by Diana Gabaldon
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
The Shack by William P. Young
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
The Stand by Stephen King The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Swan Song by Robert McCammon
Tales of the City (series) by Armistead Maupin
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
This Present Darkness by Frank E. Peretti
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Twilight Saga (series) by Stephenie Meyer
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
The Watchers by Dean Koontz
The Wheel of Time (series) by Robert Jordan
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
This is me: Hmm. Food for thought. I was at first shocked that For Whom the Bell Tolls was not here but as noted, only one book per author permitted. Happy Memorial Day to all! C
Walker Evans was a photographer who translated photography in the same way that Hemingway translated literature. Both were pioneers. Each one had an appreciation for the spare style that would influence many others, both in photography and in literature. They became friendly during Walker Evans’ one month stay in Havana in 1933, although Hemingway was not yet living in Cuba. He didn’t get there until late 1939, early 1940, but he certainly visited.
Evans entrusted Hemingway with some of his original prints to be sure they would not be confiscated by authorities during political upheaval in Cuba.
Now, 46 of the vintage prints are for sale by rare book collections. The collection is owned by a man named Benjamin Bruce. His father, Telly Otto Bruce, known as Toby, was Hemingway’s friend and guardian of the images for many decades in Key West.
Evans had gone to Cuba to take the photos for a book that was written by Carlton Beales called The Crime of Cuba. It was a fierce critique of American adventurism and an expose of the “disgraceful part we played in her tragic history.” “I had a wonderful time with Hemingway,” Evans was quoted. “Drinking every night, he was at loose ends…and needed a drinking companion and I filled that role for two weeks.”
Whether Hemingway’s prose style influenced Evans is unclear. However, the political intrigue in Cuba did lead Evans to give Hemingway the prints that would in turn be taken to Key West by boat. Once there, the images ended up in storage near Sloppy Joe’s, the famous Key West saloon. “The humidity of Key West made a lot of things a little ripe but the photos are still beautiful,” Scott Dewolf, art curator, said.
BELOW IS AN article about Paula McLain’s historical novel about Hemingway’s third wife, Journalist Martha Gellhorn. Photos added by me. Best, Christine
Cleveland Heights Author Highlights Hemingway’s Competition with Third Wife Gellhorn (By Dan Polletta in IDEASTREAMING)
It might sound like a cliché, but the subject for Paula McLain’s new novel “Love and Ruin” (Random House) came to her in a dream.
After penning “The Paris Wife,” the best-seller about Ernest Hemingway’s first wife Hadley Richardson, McLain had no intention of writing any more about Hemingway until she dreamt of being on a fishing boat with him and his third wife Martha Gellhorn.
The next day McLain researched Gellhorn on the internet. She admits to being “embarrassed” about how little she knew about her.
“I knew she was a journalist, but not that she was perhaps the most important journalistic voice of the 20th century, that her career as a journalist and war correspondent covered 60 years, every major conflict of the 20th century. Of course, as we know, journalism and being a war correspondent was absolutely a man’s world, so it was an extraordinary feat in itself, let alone that her voice was so iconic and her accomplishments so everlasting,” McLain said.
The 28-year-old Gellhorn, who had done some cub reporting for the Albany “Times Union,” met her literary hero in a Key West bar at the end of 1936.
“She literally bumped into Hemingway in his own watering hole, ‘Sloppy Joe’s.’ He was there reading his mail. He was about to go off to report on the Spanish Civil War for the North American Newspaper Alliance,” McLain said.
McLain said Gellhorn saw meeting Hemingway, who was heading to a war that many saw as romantic, as her chance to attach herself to “noble and larger than herself.” She agreed to go with him to Spain, where she too would cover the war.
During her time reporting from Madrid, Gellhorn found her journalistic voice and fell in love with Hemingway.
From 1936 until 1940, the two lived together off and on until they married. During that time Gellhorn covered the rise of Adolph Hitler in Germany as well as Czechoslovakia a few months before sections of it were annexed by the Nazis. She wrote about that experience in her 1940 novel “A Stricken Field.”
That same year Hemingway also published his novel “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” McLain said it was a major turning point in both of their lives.
“Hemingway was already quite famous at that point, but this book catapulted him into literary stardom. I can’t really imagine what it would have been like for her, under his roof, also trying to be a writer. She was trying to get her own literary ambitions realized. She loved her own books, as he loved his. She devoted herself to her novels and stories but of course didn’t have the success. Hemingway became completely involved in “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” which I think changed his life. The book became the focal point of their lives. It took all of the air and all of their attention.”
McLain said the book’s overwhelming presence in their lives started the process of driving them apart.
“I think Hemingway forgot what attracted him to Gellhorn when he first met her. Here was this incredible woman, so bold. He called her ‘the bravest woman he had ever met.’ She was clearly ambitious. Yet, once she became his wife, that ambition and devotion to her own career, that independence began to threaten him,” McLain said.
In 1944, Hemingway, feeling more and more abandoned when Gellhorn went off to cover war, offered his services to “Collier’s” magazine, for whom Gellhorn wrote. “Collier’s” accepted, replacing Gellhorn with Hemingway, just as she was preparing to go Normandy in 1944 to cover the D-Day invasion.
“She had no magazine for which to report, no credentials, no way to get over to the most important battle in history. Instead of rolling over, she found a way over to Europe on an ammunitions barge. When she got to London, she stowed away on what proved to be a hospital barge, which she didn’t know. She lied her way onto ship, locked herself in the john, and when she woke up she discovered she was on the first hospital barge for the Normandy Invasion,” McLain said.
McLain said Gellhorn going overseas in spite of Hemingway’s attempts to stop her was the breaking point of their relationship.
“They don’t recover after that. He really never forgave her. Of his four wives, she’s the only one to leave, and she’s really the only one who is his equal in every way. When they split in 1945, Gellhorn made it a point to never have his name spoken in her presence. She said ‘I don’t believe I should be remembered as footnote to anyone else’s life,’” McLain said.
Paula McLain will discuss her book at these Northeast Ohio locations this weekend
Hello Spring and Readers!I just read an article about a club that formed in Australia called the “Tough Guy Book Club.” It was interesting to read about how the men connected over the book and made new friendships through discussing the books. The themes are “manly” and the two rules are that: (1) you don’t talk about work, what you do is not important and the members don’t want to know; and please (2) bring a positive attitude to each meeting.
The club started in Melbourne, Australia and there are now 30 chapters with the first international chapter recently launched in the U.S. The club members meet once a month in pubs to have in-depth discussions about the themes of the chosen books.
Quoting the article: “We’ve read two books by Ernest Hemingway and he’s a perfect example of the masculine. His books are strong and pioneering, they are about conflict and bullfighting, loving, drinking, war, and the ocean.”
I’ve printed the whole article below but in case you’re short of time, I just wanted to call this group to your attention.
As always, I thank you more than I can say for reading this blog and maintaining an interest in Ernest Hemingway as a person and as a writer.
The Tough Guy Book Club is a meeting place to discuss books and life in general
Tough Guy Book Club members of the Castlemaine chapter at a monthly meeting. Picture: SUPPLIED
There are only a couple of rules you need to follow to join the club.
First, don’t talk about work, what you do is not important and the members don’t want to know.
Second, bring a positive attitude to each meeting.
That’s right, finishing the club’s monthly book is not vital and members are always encouraged to come to each meeting regardless of if they have completed it.
The Tough Guy Book Club was initially started as a way for a group of mates to check in with each other every month, which led to its inception at a pub in Melbourne.
They started using a book as an excuse to get to the pub so they could talk properly, eventually a few guys at the bar noticed them and were more than eager to join in on the discussion.
But from there it grew, from suburb to suburb, state to state there are now almost 30 chapters across the country and the first international chapter was recently launched in the United States.
“The tough guy thing is more of a theme than anything,” Shay said.
“Mostly we read books by tough guys, rather than as tough guys. The books we choose are guided by a loose central theme of masculinity.
“We’ve read two books by Ernest Hemingway, and he’s a perfect example of the masculine. His books are strong and pioneering, they’re about conflict and bullfighting, loving, drinking, war and the ocean.”
Some of the books the club have read include The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway and The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson.
Essentially the club acts as a meeting place for men to come together to discuss literature and the everyday issues they face.
Alex Playsted has been influential in launching the Bendigo chapter. Picture: ANTHONY PINDA
Alex Playsted or ‘Wash’ as he is known by fellow members, was hooked from his first meeting.
“I really liked what I saw when I rolled up,” Alex said.
Alex’s love for books and having a good chat were a good draw-card to join, but he felt he wanted to be even more involved with the club and is now a director that helps form new chapters.
“I was in a pretty challenging time of my life,” he said. “Tough relationship, isolated from people and was in the role of a carer.
“Very quickly I found I had a very strong community around me of like minded guys that were all very different individuals, but unified with compassion and our interest in the fellow man.”
When Alex Playsted moved to Castlemaine, the first thing he did was start a new chapter, not because he wanted to but because he needed to.
“I was amazed by how much you get to know people by listening to them talk about a book, you could just tell how they were opening up about their own life experiences.”
The name Tough Guy Book Club led him to believe it would be a bunch of bearded guys sitting around chatting about books, but it turned out to be a whole lot more.
It dawned on him how book clubs can attract ‘genuine, open and honest people’.
“Guys having a new friend catch up would be a bit awkward, but because we have the book as the basis of the conversation it just allows for a greater flow of conversation.”
Members of the Bendigo chapter which meet on the first Wednesday of each month at The Metropolitan Hotel. Picture: ANTHONY PINDA
Jamie Rooney had just moved to Bendigo from Glasgow, Scotland.
“Being a standard boy from the west coast of Scotland, we do not discuss emotion, it’s not something that is done is Glasgow,” Jamie laughed.
“During the couple meetings that I’ve been to, I’ve been able to open up a bit more which is something I generally would never have done.”
“It’s great to actually have someone sit me down and say ‘you need to read this book this month’. Books I’ve never heard of are great because they help me branch out,” he said.
Like other members from Castlemaine and Bendigo, Jamie was feeling the pressure of social isolation and struggled to find new friends.
“When I first moved here, it was quite difficult getting to know anyone. Everything here seems to be based around sport, so it has been a great way to meet other people.”
Bendigo member Troy Beamish also had a similar experience, having just recently moved from Melbourne and had a very limited social network.
He found great relief in the open discussions he experienced at his first meeting and was surprised in the depth of the analysis that was explored in the book’s themes and its characters.
“I thought it would be more of an analysis of the characters, whereas it branched out into a deeper look into humanity and how the books applied to the world,” he said.
“It was the most appealing part that will make me come back.”
Tough Guy Book Club meetings are held on the first Wednesday of every month and to find your local chapter visit http://toughguybookclub.com/.
No chapter in your area? Why not be a tough guy and start your own.
Happy Spring all! A few photos and background about Hemingway’s home in Cuba where he lived from 1940-1960.
It appeared that things were opening up in Cuba and that there might one day be actual access to Hemingway’s home Finca Vigia outside Havana. The name means Lookout Farm. Since the new election, it is unclear if this will happen.
Regardless, Hemingway had over 10 acres and a rundown house that was found by his then wife, Martha Gellhorn. It was his home from approximately 1940 to 1960. He had a staff usually of 3 people to help in the house, drive, work in the gardens. The vegetation was lush and he and Martha brought the pool and tennis court back to former glory.
Even after the divorce from Martha Gellhorn, he kept the farm as his residence and his new wife Mary Welsh moved in and became the mistress of the house.
When asked why he didn’t live in America, Hemingway noted that he could boat and fish year- round in Cuba, always had a breeze, fantastic food and drink, and a welcoming and warm people. He indicated that if he found a similar place in America, he would move there.
Ultimately he had to move. Although Castro did no
t force him out, the anti-Americanism was everywhere. Further, when he came to visit in the United States in 1960, the FBI told him he could not return. There then ensued great drama in trying to get his personal items and book manuscripts out; his animals re-settled; and to provide care for his staff left behind. It was a devastating blow to him although he did anticipate that he would have to leave Cuba at some point. He had a small apartment in New York but after not being able to return to Cuba lived much of the year in Idaho in the house in which he died.
Finca Vigia is presently in the midst of renovations. The goal is to keep it as it was when Hemingway was there but with preservation. In a humid climate, much deteriorates relatively quickly and the restoration project is afoot.
After Hemingway’s death, Mary donated the house to the Cuban government and the restoration began in 2005 by the Finca Vigia Foundation working with the Cuban government. The house itself is in San Francisco de Paula, a modest town 9 miles outside Havana. The Cuban people have always respected Hemingway’s choice to live among the people he fished with. The house was built in 1886 and was purchased by Hemingway in 1940 for $12,500.
He wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea primarily while living there. A Moveable Feast was also written there. After Hemingway’s death in 1961, the Cuban government took ownership of the property and Mary Hemingway agreed to that appropriation.
When Gary Cooper became embroiled in a torrid love affair with Patricia Neal—somewhat ironically—Hemingway was the one he talked to about it and the much married Hemingway encouraged him to return to his wife and family. Eventually Cooper did.
Hem and Gary fished and rode together; Hemingway was always pulling a cigarette away from Cooper telling him they were going to kill him; Cooper was very close to Hemingway’s son Jack; Hemingway and Cooper both went into eclipse at roughly the same time, i.e. from 1945 to perhaps 1950 and then came roaring back strong.
Hemingway came back with The Old Man and the Sea and Cooper came back with High Noon. Cooper was always surprised by Hemingway’s celebrity since it’s rare for a writer to be flocked by fans and Hemingway admired Cooper’s authenticity and the fact that he was far more intellectual than he would let on. It served his purpose to be thought to be the man of few words and “everyman” who rose to heroics on occasion. In fact, he was an intellectual of some depth. When Hemingway was depressed toward the end of the 50s, Cooper tried to find projects that would perk him up such as bringing Across the River and into the Trees and some of the short stories to life in movie or tv form.
When Cooper heard that Hemingway was in two plane crash, he was driving with his daughter Maria and almost swerved off the road, according to Maria. He was shaken to his core and immediately turned around to get to a phone to find out if there was any more news about his and Mary’s fate. When Jimmy Stewart accepted the academy award for career achievement on Gary Cooper’s behalf in January 1961, he was emotional.
Few knew that Cooper was extremely sick with pancreatic cancer. Gary hid it from all except family for a year. Hemingway was devastated. When Coop called for what both knew was their last call, neither acknowledged the sorrow or the extremis that both were in albeit in different ways. Coop closed by saying, “I bet I’ll beat you to the barn.” Hemingway sunk even lower into despair.
Gary Cooper died of cancer on May 13, 1961. Hemingway was in no condition to attend the funeral. Hadley, Hemingway’s first and most beloved wife, knew something was truly wrong with Hemingway when she read that he did not attend Coop’s funeral. She sent him a note that expressed fear for him and begged him to contact her. He didn’t. Hemingway died by his own hand six weeks later on July 2, 1961.
Condolences rolled in for both of them as if they were heads of state and the impact was felt worldwide. There aren’t many actors or writers who elicit that response today. See “The True Gen.” It’s beautiful.
Reprint from last year as there was some interest in the Coop/Hem friendship. Best, Christine
THE TRUE GEN: HEMINGWAY’S PHRASE FOR DISTINGUISHING THE REAL FROM THE FAKE, THE GENUINE ARTICLE FROM THE PHONY
I re-watched The True Gen, a documentary about Hemingway’s relationship with Gary Cooper. It’s narrated by the wonderful Sam Waterston and has fantastic footage of Idaho and of both men.
They seem like polar opposites: The cowboy from out West in Helena, Montana, and the suburbanite born in Oak Park, Illinois; the world’s greatest actor of his era and the world’s most imitated and celebrated writer perhaps of the 20th century; the conservative (Cooper) and the liberal (Hemingway); and yet they became the closest of friends. Cooper was one of the few close friends that Hemingway never had any lasting falling out with. Hem claims he wrote the character Robert Jordan (For Whom the Bell Tolls) with Cooper in mind. Cooper also starred in A Farewell to Arms.
They met on September 28, 1940 in Sun Valley, Idaho. Both men were at their peak. Hemingway, who had no use for Hollywood stars and did not seek out celebrity, had always wanted to meet Gary Cooper. Gary Cooper, the taciturn, very polite westerner, had always wanted to meet Hemingway. His friends were surprised to hear that he wanted to meet the allegedly boorish, womanizing, drunken Hemingway.
Nevertheless, he did want to meet him and he found Hemingway to be shy, self-effacing, fun, very different from what he had been led to believe. He could be boorish and he certainly could be drunk, but he often wasn’t. As Gary Cooper’s daughter Maria said, if Hemingway were the way he was portrayed in the press, i.e. a double-fisted drinking lout, her father would not have gotten along with him or liked him because her father was not that way. Hemingway was attracted to Cooper’s true devotion to a lack of artifice.
Gary Cooper was a genuine westerner who grew up on a ranch and on a horse. It’s no wonder that he looked good as The Virginian or in High Noon. He also had a real talent in art and began attending an art institute. He was sidetracked on his way through California to his next school, when he stopped in Hollywood and saw a few of his friends from ranches near home who had become stuntmen. He thought he could do that because he really could ride a horse and in short order, he became a stuntman. With his tall lanky good looks, he was given a small part in a film but he’d shone brightly even in that small role and shortly thereafter was cultivated into a star.
Hemingway never completed high school. He tried to enlist in the service in 1916 but his eyesight was so bad that he was rejected. He qualified however to be an ambulance driver, which he did in Italy. He was wounded and it forever shaped his view of war, courage, and concern about senseless violence.
Cooper and Hemingway met regularly over the years. At times, Cooper’s wife Rocky recoiled from Hemingway’s bad behavior. Coop just shook his head but rarely was affected by it. Further with just a look, he could make Hemingway behave in a best version of himself. One example given in The True Gen was when Cooper and Hemingway with their families were staying at a hotel, and a young employee at the hotel interrupted Hemingway when he was writing and HEm was peeved. When he saw the young man later in the day, Hem chewed him out. He was so harsh that Rocky, Cooper’s wife, said she wasn’t going to continue the trip with Hem. With very few words, Cooper took Hemingway aside. Hemingway then humbly apologized to the assistant and went so far as the next day to give him a large tip and apologize again. Hemingway came back to the car after the apology and said to Cooper, “Are you happy now you long-legged son of bitch?” It was said in good humor and Cooper just nodded. The trip continued.
Gary Cooper was one of Hollywood’s most iconic leading men. He starred in classic movies like High Noon (1952), Sergeant York (1941) and For Whom The Bell Tolls (1943) just to name a few. But while Cooper was a conservative Republican, there was a brief moment when the FBI thought he might be a communist. Seriously.
Gary Cooper was the “man’s leading man” in classic films, playing sheriffs shooting down gunslingers of the wild west and freedom fighters battling the fascists in Spain. Tony Soprano repeatedly refers to Cooper with admiration in the HBO series The Sopranos, wondering what happened to that old school version of masculinity.
“Let me tell you something, nowadays everybody’s gotta go to shrinks, and go to counselors, and go on Sally Jessy Raphael and talk about their problems,” Tony Soprano says in the 1999 pilot episode. “Whatever happened to Gary Cooper, the strong silent type?”
“That was an American,” Tony continues, echoing the already anachronistic anti-PC angst of the 1990s. “He wasn’t in touch with his feelings, he just did what he had to do.”
Cooper was, in fact, loved by people of many political stripes, especially when he stood up for the “common man” in populist films like 1941’s Meet John Doe and 1936’s Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. But Cooper was also a controversial figure when he testified as a friendly witness to the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in October of 1947.
Cooper didn’t exactly “name names” in 1947, but he said that he had turned down roles with scripts that were “tinged with communistic ideas.” The irony, of course, is that by today’s standards many of Cooper’s best films would be considered left of center politically. Maybe even downright socialist if Fox News were to tell it. In Frank Capra’s Meet John Doe, as just one example, Cooper plays an unemployed man in the depths of the Great Depression who accidentally starts a massive political movement built on simply spreading kindness to your neighbor. Sounds pretty commie to me.
Shortly before Cooper’s testimony, there was a period of genuine confusion for the FBI when the agency got reports that Cooper was speaking to a large crowd of communists. And it wasn’t just any crowd of communists either. It was a 90,000 strong group in the middle of Philadelphia. As it turned out, the entire thing was a propaganda effort for South American communists who were capitalizing on his role in For Whom The Bell Tolls, a film about an American fighting on the side of the Republicans and the Communists in the Spanish Civil War. Gary Cooper was never a soldier in the Spanish Civil War, fighting against the fascists. But he did play one in the movies.
For Whom The Bell Tolls was released in 1943 at the height of World War II. Based on the book by Ernest Hemingway, the film stars Cooper as the Robert Jordan, an American fighting against the fascists in Spain. Hemingway was a good friend of Cooper’s, despite their opposing political views, and the writer loved seeing the actor in his movies.
Cooper, according to the newspaper, had given a rousing speech about his admiration for communism. And rather than simply dismiss the idea, the FBI actually went to the trouble of contacting their people in Philadelphia to make sure that there wasn’t a communist rally there where Gary Cooper had given a speech. It all seems so silly now, but Cooper was even asked about it when he testified in front of the HUAC.
But that’s the power of the movies. Cooper became such a symbol of the average American on the screen that he was the natural choice for communists in South America to embody their message. It didn’t hurt that he was often depicted as the one willing to take up arms to defend freedom in other countries, most notably in movies like For Whom The Bell Tolls.
An article of unknown origin in the FBI file even made the explicit leap to Cooper’s portrayal in For Whom The Bell Tolls. The previous page in the file is heavily redacted, so it’s not clear where this article appeared, but it begins by stating as fact that the real life Gary Cooper had gone to Spain to fight in the Spanish Civil War.
Cooper died in 1961 at the age of 60, and despite the fact that he never named names he was still never fully forgiven by many in Hollywood for testifying as a friendly witness to Joseph McCarthy’s witch hunt. But the fictional Tony Soprano and plenty of other very real people still love Gary Cooper’s films.
In fact, his 1952 western High Noon is the most popular movie in the White House. It was screened by presidents Eisenhower, Carter, Clinton, and George W. Bush.