Ralph Wilhelm Cooper, 1908-1992. Actor, dancer, screen writer, emcee, choreographer (Shirley Temple-Poor Little Rich Girl). Ralph Cooper spent five years acting and directing in Hollywood and while there folks began calling him the “Dark Gable” because of his “handsome, rugged good looks and his charm and wit”. * I would like to say instead of giving him a nickname that reminds people of a White man, can we just say that this man was Ralph Cooper, a handsome, charming Black man who was very active in the world of entertainment in the 1920s, 30s and 40s. And beyond.
Like my father, Eddie Green, Cooper was also a filmmaker. Meaning he wrote, directed and starred in his own movies. In the late 1930s he was making movies during Oscar Micheaux’s filmmaking time (Micheaux began making films in 1915). He wrote, directed, produced or starred in at least fifteen films. My father began making his films in 1939, right about the time Cooper left filmmaking. In 1937, Cooper formed Million Dollar Productions with black actor George Randol and white producers Harry Popkin and his brother Leo Popkin to produce race films.
And that’s not all. Ralph Cooper was a founder and emcee of the legendary Amateur Night at the Apollo Theatre in 1935. ** He worked as a human rights arbitrator under New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller in the ’60s. And in 1984 was a consultant on the movie The Cotton Club, with Gregory Hines and Richard Gere.
Ralph and my father appeared on the same bill during those early days; their names are kind of close to the bottom of the ad as they had not “blown up” yet. But they must have met backstage. Maybe Eddie talked to him about making movies someday. Both Eddie and Ralph were successful in their chosen pursuits. Through their own talent and hard work. When it was truly a struggle for a Black man to get ahead. I salute my father and Ralph Cooper and their own special uniqueness in bringing a little entertainment into the lives of others.
I am looking forward to using my blog as a place to be a cheerleader for the trailblazers who deserve to be remembered for their unique contributions to Life.
Thank you so much, for stopping by.
*MsLadySoul **Margot Miflin, 1990
My Book: Eddie Green, The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer