Dame Gladys Cooper

Definition

Theater

  • (1888 - 1971) British actress. She made her debut at theage of 17 in the lead role of Seymour Hicks's Bluebell in Fairyland.A year later she became a Gaiety Girl, earning ¬£3 a weekfor playing small singing and dancing parts. Her first serious actingrole on the London stage came in 1906 with The Belle of Mayfair.

    In 1917 Cooper became joint-manager of the London Playhousewith Frank Curzon (the only other woman running a London theater atthat time was Lilian Baylis at the Old Vic). She presented and actedin four Somerset Maugham premieres and enjoyed a great success inJ. M. Barrie's Peter Pan. From the mid 1930s she worked mainlyin America, making some 30 Hollywood films between 1940 and 1967.She became dame Gladys in 1967.

    Cooper always maintained that Peter Pan was for adults,not children. "Hook is a terrifying character," she pointedout, adding "When children are asked 'Do you believe in fairies?' theyare egged on to call out 'Yes' by the elders." When one smallboy visited her dressing room after the show he looked at her suspiciouslyfor some moments and then commanded: "Well, now fly."Noted Cooper, "There absolutely does not seem to be any adequateanswer to that sort of demand." Gladys Cooper was the mother-in-lawof the actor Robert Morley (1908 - 92).

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