Gary Cooper played the role of Lou Gehrig in “The Pride of the Yankees.” To prepare for the role, Cooper spent several weeks studying Gehrig’s life, reading biographies, and watching old newsreels of the baseball player. He also spent time with Eleanor Gehrig, Lou’s widow, to gain insight into the man behind the legend.
Cooper worked closely with the film’s director, Sam Wood, to create a believable portrayal of Gehrig. They reviewed the script together, discussing Gehrig’s mannerisms, speech patterns, and physical appearance. Cooper also worked with a baseball coach to improve his form and technique so that he could convincingly play the sport on screen.
In his performance, Cooper captures the quiet strength and humility that made Gehrig such a beloved figure. He portrays Gehrig as a man of few words, more comfortable on the field than in the spotlight. Cooper’s nuanced performance conveys Gehrig’s frustration and fear as he grapples with his illness and his unwavering determination to continue playing as long as he can.
Cooper’s performance in “The Pride of the Yankees” is widely regarded as one of his best. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role but ultimately lost to James Cagney for “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” Despite this, the film remains a classic, and Cooper’s portrayal of Gehrig is remembered as one of the great performances in sports biopic history.