Jeanne Cooper with Lindsay Harrison. Not Young, Still Restless. New York: It Books, 2012.
Cooper was born in 1928. Both her parents were part Cherokee. She became interested in theater. She attended the Pasadena Playhouse College of Theater Arts by staying with her Aunt Celia. When Celia moved her sister and brother in law invited her to stay with them so she could study at the Theater of the College of the Pacific. She performed in theater in Stockton Her friends that she would be successful in Hollywood. Without her knowledge, they renter an apartment for her in Hollywood and moved all her belonging to her new apartment.
Cooper acted at the Gallery Stage and attracted studio attention. Universal offered her a contract of $250 a week. She was quickly informed that the studio is a business. Newly signed actors learned various aspects of filmmaking from image making, wardrobe, horseback riding, and post production.Cooper planned to perform theater work until realizing her six month Universal contract did not allow that. Her first movie was “The Redhead from Wyoming”. She realized the star, Maureen O’Hara, was reducing her role in a scene. Concerned, she asked director Lee Shelem about it He explained that a newcomer can make an established star feel old. Copper then complimented O’Hara and tensions were reduced. O’Hara later gave her advice while moving her in a scene telling her “if you can’t see the camera, the camera can’t see you.”
Actor David Jansson advised Cooper to forget a future in theater and instead to concentrate on the growing television industry
In 1952, Cooper and several actresses were went by Universal to a promotional tour in Alaska. They returned to discover that roles that normally would have been given to them were given to several newly signed Miss Universe contestants, including Anita Ekberg. This added to the lesson that this is a business.
After six months at Universal, Cooper wanted a raise Universal refused and she did not resign with them.
In 1953, Cooper appeared in three episodes of the TV show “The Adventures of Kit Carson”. She met Barbara Hale and they became friends through today. She later appeared in five episodes of “Perry Mason”, which had Barbara Hale in the cast.
Cooper once played a practical joke on actor Raymond Burr. She stole a trophy he had won, had it inscribed “Fuck you” in Japanese, and had it sent ahead to an Army base where Burr would going to appear, The base commander stunned Burr with his own lost trophy and drew cheers from the troops when he read the inscription in Japanese and then the English translation.
Cooper appeared in over 40 TV episodes and over 12 films, She dated several actors including Robert Taylor, Hugh O’Brien, and Raymond Burr.
Actor Leslie Nielsen made his own “fart machine” he could hide in his path, He used it to reduce tensions on the sets.
The producers of the soap opera “The Young and the Restless” approached Cooper with a three year contract shooting in Hawaii. She quickly accepted.
When she started wok on this soap opera, scenes would be shot several times. Today, scenes are shot in one take unless something disastrous happens.
Her character went into rehab. She is glad that this role inspired many viewers to seek help with their dependencies.
Cooper credits writer Bill Bell for creating and writing successful “Young and Restless” characters and stories. She notes he would observe when a character didn’t work and knew when to drop a character, One character went to wash her hair and disappeared for good. Bell created tag lines to end scenes and refused to change them.
Cooper has a face lift. Her character thus had a face lift, Her bandages were unwrapped for real on the show.
Cooper was nominated for an Emmy in 1987 for Outstanding Guest Performance in a Drama Series the same year her son Corbin Berenson was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor.
After eight Emmy nominations without winning, Cooper finally won a Daytime Emmy in 2008.
Cooper pinches some costars on the buttocks during tapings to remind them to enjoy their work.
Costar Eric Braden does not read the script until the day of shooting He changes lines he believes are ouf of character. This requires others to pay attention and improvise to the changed dialogue.
Costar Esther Valentine also works as a United Airlines flight attendant.