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Gladys Cooper



The Eleventh Commandment



Danny Donovan, the Gentleman Cracksman



The Real Thing at Last



The Sorrows of Satan

Masks and Faces

My Lady’s Dress






Headin’ North



The Bohemian Girl



Bonnie Prince Charlie



The Iron Duke




Kitty Foyle



That Hamilton Woman

The Black Cat

A Yank in the R.A.F.

The Gay Falcon



This Above All

Eagle Squadron

Now, Voyager



Forever and a Day

Mr. Lucky

Princess O’Rourke

The Song of Bernadette



The White Cliffs of Dover

Mrs. Parkington



The Valley of Decision

Love Letters



The Green Years

Beware of Pity

The Cockeyed Miracle



Green Dolphin Street

The Bishop’s Wife



The Pirate




The Secret Garden

Madame Bovary



Thunder on the Hill



At Sword’s Point



The Man Who Loved Redheads



Separate Tables



The List of Adrian Messenger



My Fair Lady



The Happiest Millionaire



A Nice Girl Like Me


Gladys Cooper was nominated three times for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performances in

[on looking into a mirror, on her deathbed]: If this is what virus pneumonia does to one, I really don’t think I shall bother to have it again. ~ Gladys Cooper

Gladys Cooper: Learn more about her, review her filmography and more

Biographies, Actress

Gladys Cooper was born Gladys Constance Cooper on  December 18, 1888 in Hither Green, Lewisham, London, the eldest of the three daughters of Charles William Frederick Cooper (1844–1939) by his marriage to Mabel Barnett (1861–1944). Her two younger sisters were Doris Mabel (1891–1987) and Grace Muriel (1893–1982). Gladys Cooper spent most of her childhood in Chiswick, where her family moved when she was an infant.

She made her stage debut in 1905 touring with Seymour Hicks in his musical Bluebell in Fairyland.

In 1913 Cooper appeared in her first film, The Eleventh Commandment, going on to make several more silent films during the First World War and shortly afterwards. She continued full-time stage work as well. In 1917, Cooper became co-manager, with Frank Curzon, of the Playhouse Theatre, taking over sole control from 1927 until she left in 1933.

Cooper turned to film full-time in 1940, finding success in Hollywood in a variety of character roles and was frequently cast as a disapproving, aristocratic society woman, although she sometimes played lively, approachable types, as she did in Rebecca (1940). She was nominated three times for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performances as Bette Davis‘s domineering mother in Now, Voyager (1942), a skeptical nun in The Song of Bernadette (1943), and Rex Harrison’s mother, Mrs. Higgins, in My Fair Lady (1964). In 1945, after playing the role of Clarissa Scott in the film The Valley of Decision, for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer she was given a contract with the studio. Her credits there included both dramatic and comedy films, including The Green Years (1946), The Cockeyed Miracle (1946) and The Secret Garden (1949). Other notable film roles were The Man Who Loved Redheads (1955), Separate Tables (1958) and The Happiest Millionaire (1967) as Aunt Mary Drexel, singing “There Are Those”.

She returned to theatre between films in the 1950s and 1960s. She also had various television roles in the 1950s and ’60s. Cooper starred in the 1964–65 series The Rogues with David Niven, Charles Boyer, Gig Young, Robert Coote, John Williams and Larry Hagman. The series lasted a single season of thirty episodes, most of which featured Cooper as the matriarch of a crime family.

In 1967, at the age of 79, she was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE). Her last major success on the stage was at age 82, in 1970–71 in the role of Mrs. St. Maugham in Enid Bagnold’s The Chalk Garden, a role she had created on Broadway and in the West End in 1955–56.

Cooper was married three times.

  • Captain Herbert Buckmaster (1908–1921). The couple had two children: Joan (1910–2005), who was married to the actor Robert Morley, and John Rodney (1915–83).
  • Sir Neville Pearson (1927–36). Sir Neville and Lady Pearson had one daughter, Sally Pearson, aka Sally Cooper, who was married (1961–86) to actor Robert Hardy.
  • Philip Merivale (1937–1946), a fellow actor. The couple lived for many years in Santa Monica, California as permanent resident aliens. He died at age 59 from a heart ailment. Her stepson from this marriage was John Merivale.


She lived mostly in England in her final years and died from pneumonia at the age of 82 in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire.

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Gladys Cooper: A Biography