It's received relatively little fanfare, but Gary Cooper is the latest honoree in the United States Postal Service's "Hollywood Legends" series; stamps with his image began being sold at post offices earlier this month. That it didn't get much attention -- despite a ceremony at the Autry National Center of the American West featuring his daughter, Maria Cooper Janis, film historian/critic Leonard Maltin and other notables -- may be indicative of how Cooper has receded a bit from public consciousness.
True, that's to be expected, since it's been nearly half a century since his passing, but Clark Gable's been gone only a bit longer than Coop and I would guess he's far more recognizable to people who only nominally follow classic Hollywood. Cooper had several iconic roles -- Sgt. Alvin York and Lou Gehrig, to name two -- but he isn't identified with those real-life figures the way Gable is the fictional Rhett Butler. Marshal Will Kane in "High Noon" comes close, but how many even remember the character's name?
Cooper was honored at a western museum, in a ceremony where his Oscar for "High Noon" was on display, but you can't shoehorn him as a western star any more than you could James Stewart (the 2007 stamp honoree). Cooper excelled in many genres, from straight drama to sophisticated comedy (after all, he appeared in multiple Ernst Lubitsch films, just as he worked for the likes of Frank Capra). He always retained his integrity as an actor.
Some more about this stamp: The image is based on a black-and-white George Hurrell photograph from about 1940; the artwork surrounding the stamps is based on a still from "High Noon." All in all, a well-deserved honor for a splendid actor whose body of work deserves rediscovery by more people.
We would be remiss if we didn't mention that Cooper made a pair of films with our favorite lady, as Carole Lombard appeared with him in "I Take This Woman" (shown above, 1931) and "Now And Forever" (1934). And the Cooper honor begs the question: When will Lombard get her stamp in the "Hollywood Legends" series? We've asked this question before, but perhaps now it's time to take action. And what better way to do it than through Congress?
You can petition your representative or senator, of course, but it seems logical that the people who should be the campaign rolling are the representative from the district that includes Fort Wayne and the two senators from Lombard's home state of Indiana. Who are they? What are their addresses? I'll tell you.
The representative is Mark Souder, a Republican from the 3rd District:
Web site: souder.house.gov
Washington, D.C. office:
2231 Rayburn House Office Building,
Washington, DC 20515-1403
Phone: (202) 225-4436
Fax: (202) 225-3479
Fort Wayne office:
1300 South Harrison Street, #3105
Fort Wayne, IN 46802
Phone: (260) 424-3041
Fax: (260) 424-4042
As for the senators, there's one Democrat and one Republican:
Evan Bayh (D)
Web site: bayh.senate.gov/contact/email/
131 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-5623
Richard G. Lugar (R)
Web site: lugar.senate.gov/contact/
306 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-4814
I'm not going to give you a form letter to send them -- for one thing, if they're too identical, they'll defeat the purpose, and for another, I want you to use your imagination. However, there are some things you should play up:
* Her Hoosier roots;
* Her acting skill, notably as the preeminent actress of screwball comedy;
* Her patriotism as an American, expressed most forcefully in the last public act of her life, the war bond rally in Indianapolis;
* Her generosity to others, a quality that made her one of the most beloved people in the entertainment industry during her lifetime; and
* Her lively personality that continues to resonate on screen and inspires future generations.
Don't inject politics into this -- save your thoughts about health care for other letters. This is about getting Carole Lombard on a U.S. postage stamp, a cause that should transcend party or ideology.
After all, why should Karakalpakia (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/53110.html) have all the fun?