Cooper, Merian Caldwell, Brig Gen

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Last Rank
Brigadier General
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
AAF MOS 770-Airplane Pilot
Last AFSC Group
Pilot (Enlisted)
Primary Unit
1945-1945, 5th Air Force
Service Years
1915 - 1945
USAAFOfficer Collar Insignia
Brigadier General

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Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by A3C Michael S. Bell to remember Cooper, Merian Caldwell, Brig Gen.

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Contact Info
Home Town
Last Address
San Diego

Date of Passing
Apr 21, 1973
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Cremated, ashes scattered at sea.

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 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

"In the 1950s and '60s he was a big crusader in fighting communism, backing the now disgraced efforts of Senator Joseph McCarthy to root out traitors in Hollywood and Washington, D.C.
Among other things in his career he was a newspaperman in four different cities, a pilot, an explorer in the Middle East, an airline director, an Air Force general, and a movie executive. He married a movie actress, invented John Wayne,  arranged Katharine Hepburn's first screen test, teamed Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, raised a family, and died peacefully at 78."

World War I

Cooper was a DH-4 bomber pilot during World War I. He was shot down and captured by the Germans, serving out the remainder of the war in a POW camp. According to Stephen Skinner (The Stand), Captain Cooper was allowed to remain in the U.S. Air Service after the war, despite serious burns to his arms incurred in the crash of his DH-4. In January 1919, while on special duty with the American Red Cross in France, he located the gravesite of Lieutenant Frank Luke, Jr., America's second-highest-scoring ace of World War I. Cooper's subsequent report helped to confirm the identity and location of Lt. Luke's first burial site, which was near the village of Murvaux.



From late 1919 until the 1921 Treaty of Riga, Cooper was a member of a volunteer American flight squadron, the Kociuszko Squadron, which supported the Polish Army in the Polish-Soviet War. On July 26, 1920, his plane was shot down, and he spent nearly 9 months in a Soviet prisoner of war camp. He escaped just before the war was over and made it to Latvia. For valor he was decorated by Polish commander-in-chief Józef Pisudski with the highest Polish military decoration, the Virtuti Militari.

During his time as a POW, Cooper wrote an autobiography: Things Men Die For by "C". He turned the manuscript over to Dagmar Matson to type for publisher submission. It was submitted to G. P. Putnam's Sons in New York (the Knickerbocker Press) in 1927 and published that same year. Just after the book's release, he changed his mind about releasing the personal details about "Nina" and asked Dagmar to buy up every copy she could find. She managed to acquire most of the 5,000 copies that had been released. Cooper kept a copy and Dagmar kept a copy, while the rest were eventually destroyed. Dagmar sent Nina money every month, on behalf of Cooper, until his death.

World War II

Though old enough to be free of service in World War II, he enlisted anyway, commissioned as a colonel in the U.S. Army Air Forces, and accompanied Col. Robert L. Scott to India while serving as a logistics liaison for the Doolittle Raid. He and Scott traveled to Dinjan Airfield, Assam, where they assisted Col. Caleb V. Haynes, a bomber pilot, in setting up the Assam-Burma-China Ferrying Command, which was the origin of The Hump Airlift. He went on to serve in China as chief of staff for General Claire Chennault of the China Air Task Force — precursor of the Fourteenth Air Force — then from 1943 to 1945 in the Southwest Pacific as chief of staff for the Fifth Air Force's Bomber Command.

Leading many missions and carefully planning them to minimize loss of life, he was known for his hard work and relentless planning. At the end of the war, he was promoted to brigadier general. For his contributions, he was also aboard the USS Missouri to witness Japan's surrender.

Other Comments:

Film career

Cooper led movie production for RKO Radio Pictures before and after World War II. He frequently collaborated with Ernest B. Schoedsack. Cooper also served as vice president in charge of production for Pioneer Pictures from 1934 to 1936, and vice president of Selznick International Pictures in 1936–1937, before moving to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Cooper started his film career with documentaries for Paramount Pictures such as Grass (1925) and Chang (1927), which combined real footage with staged sequences. In Chang , he used this technique to create a memorable finale featuring an elephant stampede. His movie The Four Feathers was filmed among the fighting tribes of the Sudan.

Throughout his career, Cooper was a proponent of technical innovation. The film King Kong, which he co-wrote, co-directed, and appeared in, was a breakthrough in this regard. Another outstanding film that he produced in trying to follow up on his success with King Kong was the 1935 film She. Additionally, Cooper helped pave the way for such ground-breaking technologies as Technicolor and the widescreen process Cinerama.

Cooper was a good friend and frequent collaborator with noted Western director John Ford. In 1947, they formed Argosy Productions and produced such notable films as Wagon Master (1950), Rio Grande (1950), The Quiet Man (1952), and The Searchers (1956). He was nominated for an Academy Award for producing The Quiet Man in 1952, but lost to Cecil B. DeMille's The Greatest Show on Earth. Cooper did however receive an Honorary Oscar that same year.

Cooper has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (his name is misspelled "Meriam C. Cooper").

  1. Best of Cinerama (1963) (co-producer)
  2. Seven Wonders of the World (1956) (producer)
  3. The Searchers (1956) (executive producer)
  4. The Sun Shines Bright (1953) (producer) (uncredited)
  5. This Is Cinerama (1952) (producer)
  6. The Quiet Man (1952) (producer)
  7. Rio Grande (1950) (producer) (uncredited)
    ... aka "John Ford and Merian C. Cooper's Rio Grande" - UK (complete title), USA (complete title)
  8. Wagon Master (1950) (executive producer) (uncredited)
  9. She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) (executive producer) (uncredited)
  10. Mighty Joe Young (1949) (producer)
  11. 3 Godfathers (1948) (producer) (uncredited)
  12. Fort Apache (1948) (executive producer) (uncredited)
  13. The Fugitive (1947) (producer)
  14. Dr. Cyclops (1940) (producer) (uncredited)
    ... aka "Doctor Cyclops" - USA (poster title)
  15. The Toy Wife (1938) (producer)
  16. Dancing Pirate (1936) (executive producer)
  17. The Last Days of Pompeii (1935) (producer)
  18. She (1935) (producer)
  19. Kentucky Kernels (1934) (executive producer) (uncredited)
  20. Finishing School (1934) (executive producer)
  21. Sing and Like It (1934) (executive producer)
  22. This Man Is Mine (1934) (executive producer)
  23. Success at Any Price (1934) (executive producer)
  24. Spitfire (1934) (executive producer)
  25. Keep 'Em Rolling (1934) (executive producer)
  26. The Lost Patrol (1934) (executive producer)
  27. Hips, Hips, Hooray! (1934) (executive producer)
  28. Two Alone (1934) (executive producer)
  29. Long Lost Father (1934) (executive producer)
  30. The Meanest Gal in Town (1934) (executive producer)
  31. Flying Down to Rio (1933) (executive producer)
  32. The Son of Kong (1933) (executive producer)
  33. If I Were Free (1933) (executive producer)
  34. The Right to Romance (1933) (executive producer)
  35. Little Women (1933) (executive producer)
  36. Chance at Heaven (1933) (executive producer)
  37. After Tonight (1933) (executive producer)
  38. Ace of Aces (1933) (executive producer)
  39. Headline Shooter (1933) (executive producer)
  40. Aggie Appleby Maker of Men (1933) (executive producer)
  41. Flaming Gold (1933) (executive producer)
  42. Ann Vickers (1933) (executive producer)
  43. Midshipman Jack (1933) (executive producer)
  44. Rafter Romance (1933) (executive producer)
  45. One Man's Journey (1933) (executive producer)
  46. Blind Adventure (1933) (executive producer)
  47. Morning Glory (1933) (executive producer)
  48. No Marriage Ties (1933) (executive producer)
    ... aka "The Ad Man" - USA (alternative title)
  49. Before Dawn (1933) (executive producer)
  50. Double Harness (1933) (executive producer)
  51. Flying Devils (1933) (executive producer)
  52. Bed of Roses (1933) (executive producer)
  53. Emergency Call (1933) (executive producer)
  54. Melody Cruise (1933) (executive producer)
  55. Professional Sweetheart (1933) (executive producer)
  56. Cross Fire (1933) (executive producer)
  57. Diplomaniacs (1933) (executive producer)
  58. The Silver Cord (1933) (executive producer)
  59. King Kong (1933) (producer)
  60. Lucky Devils (1933) (associate producer)
  61. The Monkey's Paw (1933) (producer)
  62. The Phantom of Crestwood (1932) (associate producer)
  63. The Most Dangerous Game (1932) (associate producer)
  64. The Four Feathers (1929) (producer)
  65. Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness (1927) (producer)
    ... aka "Chang" - USA (short title)
  66. Grass: A Nation's Battle for Life (1925) (producer) (uncredited)
    ... aka "Grass" - USA (short title)
    ... aka "Grass, the Epic of a Lost Tribe" - USA (alternative title)
  1. King Kong (2005) (story)
    ... aka "Kong: The Eighth Wonder of the World" - International (English title) (teaser title)
    ... aka "Peter Jackson's King Kong" - USA (promotional title)
  2. Kong: King of Atlantis (2005) (V) (character idea) (uncredited)
  3. "Kong: The Animated Series" (2000) TV series (unknown episodes, 2000)
  4. Kong (2000) (character idea)
  5. Mighty Joe Young (1998) (story)
  6. The Mighty Kong (1998) (V) (screen story "King Kong") (uncredited)
  7. King Kong Lives (1986) (character)
  8. King Kong (1976) (idea)
  9. Mighty Joe Young (1949) (story)
  10. King Kong (1933) (idea) (story) (uncredited)
  11. Roar of the Dragon (1932) (story)
  12. Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness (1927) (uncredited)
    ... aka "Chang" - USA (short title)
  1. This Is Cinerama (1952)
  2. The Last Days of Pompeii (1935) (uncredited)
  3. King Kong (1933) (uncredited)
  4. The Four Feathers (1929)
  5. Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness (1927)
    ... aka "Chang" - USA (short title)
  6. Grass: A Nation's Battle for Life (1925) (uncredited)
    ... aka "Grass" - USA (short title)
    ... aka "Grass, the Epic of a Lost Tribe" - USA (alternative title)
Miscellaneous Crew:
  1. Wagon Master (1950) (presenter)
  2. She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) (presenter)
  3. 3 Godfathers (1948) (presenter)
  4. Fort Apache (1948) (presenter)
  5. The Fugitive (1947) (presenter)
  6. Stingaree (1934) (presenter)
  1. The Four Feathers (1929) (uncredited)
  2. Captain Salisbury's Ra-Mu (1929)
    ... aka "Ra-Mu" - USA (reissue title)
  3. Grass: A Nation's Battle for Life (1925)
    ... aka "Grass" - USA (short title)
    ... aka "Grass, the Epic of a Lost Tribe" - USA (alternative title)
  1. King Kong (1933) (uncredited) .... Pilot of Plane That Kills Kong
  1. King Kong (2005) (dedicatee)
    ... aka "Kong: The Eighth Wonder of the World" - International (English title) (teaser title)
    ... aka "Peter Jackson's King Kong" - USA (promotional title)
  1. Grass: A Nation's Battle for Life (1925) (as Merian Cooper) .... Himself
    ... aka "Grass" - USA (short title)
    ... aka "Grass, the Epic of a Lost Tribe" - USA (alternative title)
Archive Footage:
  1. I'm King Kong!: The Exploits of Merian C. Cooper (2005) (archive sound) .... Himself
  2. Cinerama Adventure (2002) .... Himself/Airplane gunner (in "King Kong")
  3. "Hollywood Stuntmakers"
        - Episode #1.0 (1999) TV episode (uncredited) .... Pilot of plane that kills Kong
        - King Kong und andere Kuscheltiere (1999) TV episode (uncredited) .... Pilot of plane that kills Kong


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United States Army Air ServiceArmy National Guard (ARNG)1st Aero SquadronAir Corps Ferrying Command
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  1915-1921, United States Army Air Service
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