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Thread: My Experiences With Gary Cooper

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    Default My Experiences With Gary Cooper

    Ed Parker

    Joe Hyams is another good friend who has been instrumental in my
    success in Hollywood. Through him, I was able to meet and perform for
    the late Gary Cooper. Joe had arranged for me to put on a Kenpo
    demonstration for Gary Cooper in March of 1961. Two and a half months
    later Gary Cooper died of cancer. Cooper was interested in having his
    daughter, Maria, take lessons and wanted a demonstration in order to
    get an idea of what she would be learning. Arrangements were made for
    me to put on a demonstration at his home at 10 o'clock on a Thursday
    morning followed by lunch.

    I was extremely anxious to meet Gary Cooper. I had been a fan of
    his for many years and looked forward to meeting him. I was told by
    Joe Hyams that Ernest Hemingway would also be there, along with the
    matador from Spain he had written about. With this additional news, I
    was even more anxious to have this meeting come about. As my students
    and I drove through Beverly Hills looking for Gary Cooper's address,
    we passed by a number of estates. As we edged our way through Beverly
    Hills, time seemed to pass slowly. As the torturous minutes clicked
    away, we finally arrived at our destination.

    Gary Cooper's house was, indeed, magnificent. It stretched for
    what seemed to be a half a mile. We were overwhelmed, excited, and
    nervous. Joe Hyams was already there when we arrived. When Joe made
    the introduction, a dream had come true for me. This was at a time in
    my life when meeting celebrities was still a novelty for me. Gary
    Cooper, his wife Rocky, and the Matador were present. We were told
    that Ernest Hemingway was ill and that he would not be in attendance.
    This was a big let down for me since I was looking forward to meeting
    him also. It was an opportunity that never came about since he also
    died not too long after what would have been our first meeting. Gary's
    daughter, Maria, was also absent.

    As we demonstrated, Gary and his company were excited and
    attentive. It was a moment where I was now the performer and Gary
    Cooper the viewer. Not many individuals in life have an opportunity to
    switch roles as I did. To see his facial expressions and excitement
    was most gratifying. The demonstration lasted about forty five minutes
    after which questions were asked. Cooper's questions were straight and
    to the point. He was interested in knowing what Maria would be
    learning and how it would benefit her. He was concerned with the ever
    increasing crime rate and Maria possibly becoming a statistic. He also
    wanted to be assured that Maria would not be injured while learning.
    The Matador, on the other hand, asked technical questions. He was
    fascinated by the speed and especially with the footwork necessary to
    get one out of the line of attack. I detailed the various foot
    maneuvers that we employ to get in and out when you are defending or
    attacking. I could see why he was interested since his life depended
    upon how good he was with his footwork in getting out of the way of
    the bull. He, too, was fascinating to talk with.

    We conversed for forty five minutes before I asked Gary if I
    could take a shower. He quickly escorted me to his bedroom and was‹f
    very congenial as he then said "yes by all means", with a smirk on his
    face. I sensed something, but it wasn't until I turned the shower on
    that I realized why he had a smirk on his face. There were five shower
    heads each situated in various locations İİ bottom, sides, and top. As
    the water struck me from all five angles, I leaped with a shriek. I
    could hear Gary laughing on the other side of the bathroom door. He
    then commented that he just had the shower heads installed and knew
    that I would react in the manner I did. This pleased him. Contrary to
    what I had thought, this seemingly expressionless faced actor on the
    screen did have a sense of humor. I found this to be even more evident
    throughout the day.

    Having lunch with Gary Cooper and his wife Rocky was a memorable
    experience and one which I will never forget. From what I could
    observe, there were two women handling the food and a male waiter who
    served us. There were salads, condiments, wine and other beverages,
    but what was most eye catching were sandwiches that were regal in
    appearance. I had never seen sandwiches prepared in this manner and,
    therefore, had no clue as to how to proceed to eat it. The food just
    sat there as we conversed and although I had worked up an appetite I
    was hoping that Joe Hyams, or someone else, would start to eat the
    sandwiches so that I would know how to proceed myself.

    The primary conversationalist was Gary Cooper. Having pictured
    him to be a man of very few words on the movie screen, I was
    astonished to see and hear him talk as much as he did. He was a
    captivating speaker using humor and wit as he told us about his
    experiences on a recent trip to Russia. He talked about the Russian
    plane that flew he and Rocky to Moscow. He was amazed to see a
    chandelier hanging from the ceiling of the aircraft. He commented
    about the danger of its existence and how this was unacceptable by the
    FAA. He also mentioned that the aircraft had to make a second attempt
    at landing. He thought that the Captain was so gracious when he
    apologized to the passengers for the inconvenience this caused.
    However, when the Captain mentioned that it was his female coİpilot
    who had attempted the first landing due to inexperience and that she
    would do better the second time around, Mr. and Mrs. Cooper did not
    think this was funny. They did think the incident was funny, however,
    after it was all over and as they told the story during our luncheon

    After considerable conversation had taken place, Rocky finally
    used a knife and fork to pick up the sandwich and placed it on her
    plate. As we discreetly glanced at her, we saw her cut the sandwich as
    if it was a steak. Needless to say, we all approached our sandwiches
    in the same manner avoiding any indication that we had no idea as to
    how to eat the sandwich.

    After the luncheon was over and knowing that Joe Hyams had been a
    guest of many celebrities, I asked Joe if he knew how to tackle the
    sandwiches that were prepared for us and he said "Hell no, I was
    waiting for someone to make the first move."

    Although Gary Cooper died not, too, long after this demonstration
    I never did have the privilege of teaching Maria. The experiences I
    had that day will always live in my memory. Thanks again, Joe Hyams,
    for another meaningful introduction.

    Ed Parker Sr. Memories
    Archived with the permission of Ed Parker Jr.
    Ed Parker Sr. was the founder of the art known today as American Kenpo.
    In these files, Ed Parker Jr. shares his fathers unpublished notes and other memories with us.
    For ANY and ALL KenpoTalk issues, please use theContact Us link here or at page bottom right. Do NOT PM me for site support.

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