Cooper in 1940
George Melville Cooper
15 October 1896
|Died||13 March 1973 (aged 76)|
|Resting place||Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery|
George Melville Cooper (15 October 1896 - 13 March 1973) was an English stage, film and television actor. His many notable screen roles include the High Sheriff of Nottingham in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice (1940) and the wedding-rehearsal supervisor Mr. Tringle in Father of the Bride (1950).
George Melville Cooper was born on 15 October 1896 in Aston, Birmingham, Warwickshire to W.C.J. and Frances (née Brennan) Cooper. He was brought up in Britain and attended public schools, including King Edward's School in Birmingham. He began to develop an interest in acting as a teenager. At the age of eighteen, he made his professional stage debut in a production at Stratford-upon-Avon. His budding acting career was interrupted by his military service in the Scottish regiment during the First World War, in which he was captured on the Western Front and held prisoner by the Germans for a brief time.
After the war, Cooper resumed his stage career, appearing in numerous stage productions, including The Farmer's Wife, Back to Methuselah, The Third Finger and Journey's End. He transitioned to film work in the early 1930s, appearing in Black Coffee (1931) with Austin Trevor and Adrianne Allen, Alexander Korda's The Private Life of Don Juan (1934) with Douglas Fairbanks and Merle Oberon and The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934) with Leslie Howard and Merle Oberon. In 1934, after receiving good reviews for his performance in The Private Life of Don Juan, Cooper moved to the United States.
In Hollywood, Cooper was generally cast as a snobbish, ineffectual society type or as a confidence trickster. His more memorable roles in the 1930s include M. W. Picard in The Great Garrick (1937) with Olivia de Havilland, Bingham the butler in Four's a Crowd (1938) with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland, Boulin in Dramatic School with Luise Rainer and Paulette Goddard, and the cowardly Sheriff of Nottingham in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland. During the 1940s, Cooper continued to appear in some of the more popular films of the decade, including Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca (1940) with Joan Fontaine, Pride and Prejudice (1940) with Greer Garson, The Lady Eve (1941) and You Belong to Me (1941) with Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda, This Above All (1942) with Joan Fontaine, Random Harvest (1942) with Greer Garson, Henry Hathaway's 13 Rue Madeleine (1947) with James Cagney and The Red Danube (1949) with Walter Pidgeon. Cooper also appeared in Harvey, with James Stewart.
In the 1950s, he continued to appear in popular feature films, such as Father of the Bride (1950), It Should Happen to You (1954), and Around the World in 80 Days (1956), his second supporting role in an Academy Award winning film. In addition to his film work throughout the decade, Cooper appeared in numerous television series, including Musical Comedy Time (1950-51), Fireside Theatre (1951), Kraft Television Theatre (1952), Robert Montgomery Presents (1952-53), Broadway Television Theatre (1952-53), Schlitz Playhouse of Stars (1954), Lux Video Theatre (1951-55), The Red Skelton Show (1956), Studio 57 (1957), Playhouse 90 (1957), Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1957) and Shirley Temple's Storybook (1958). Cooper's final television appearance was on The Best of the Post (1961).
Towards the end of his career, Cooper focused on stage work and appeared in such productions as Much Ado About Nothing (1952), Escapade (1953), My Fair Lady (1956-62) and Hostile Witness (1966). Cooper's final acting role was Brassett in the revival of Charley's Aunt, which closed on 11 July 1970.
After a brief first marriage to Gladys Grice that ended in divorce, Cooper married actress Rita Page. Their marriage produced one child and ended with her death in London on 19 December 1954. Cooper's third marriage to Elizabeth Sutherland lasted until his death.