Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cooper and Kong

Merian C. Cooper, 1893 - 1973 was the creator and producer of the film King Kong, which was first screened in New York City on March 2, 1933. It was my intent to make a brief mention of this famous film on this anniversary of its debut. However, in researching the film, I found that Mr. Cooper, who previously had never crossed my radar (unless his name flashed before my eyes in movie credits) lived a very interesting life.

Cooper attended the U.S. Naval Academy but was forced to resign in his senior year. The following year he joined the National Guard to engage in chasing Pancho Villa in Mexico.

Cooper was a bomber pilot during WWI and was shot down and captured by the Germans, POW until end of war.

From 1919 to 1921 he was a pilot, Kosciuszko Squadron, in support of the Polish Army in its fight with the Soviets. He was shot down and again incarcerated as POW to the Soviets. He escaped after nine months in prison and fled to Latvia. While imprisoned he wrote Things Men Die For. Awarded the highest Polish Military honor, the Virtuti Militari.

He was a founding member of the Board of Directors of Pan American Airways.
CEO of RKO Radio Pictures
VP in charge of production, Pioneer Pictures
VP, Selznick International
Founder Argosy Pictures with John Ford.
List of credits in Film production long as your arm; King Kong most famous film.
Has star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.
It is said that Cooper himself flew the plane that "brought down" Kong.

WWII: Logistics for Doolittle Raiders. China Air Task force. Chief of Staff, Fifth Air Force. Promoted to Brigadier General. Witness to Japan's surrender aboard USS Missouri.

Father of Polish writer Maciej Stomczyriski.

And in general lived a life of such widely varied and exciting experiences that it is hard for me to imagine. Old stodgy me.

I first saw King Kong in a theater on Douglas Avenue in Wichita, Kansas, 1952.
Image and list of sources, Wikipedia.

4 comments:

The Pink Birdhouse said...

Wow, that is all really interesting. It is hard to imagine such a life of "adventures", different places visited, etc. It actually does make one's own life seem boring and ordinary. My father in law had a life like that, he was so many places, had met so many people, been thru so much. I never tired of his stories, which he loved to tell and often did. :-) thanks for sharing all this new-found info about the man behind such a fabulous movie! I always loved the original so much better then all the newly made ones. ~~~ Debby

vanilla said...

Debby--It never ceases to amaze me that some people can do so much. So many interesting people to learn about.

Lin said...

Gees, I feel like I'm wasting my life. Thanks for the insight on an accomplished man!

vanilla said...

Lin--Yeah, he was a prolific performer, but did he enjoy his job?