Informative Caption screeched of this photo, which was snapped on this day in 1941:” GARY COOPER, MARTHA GELLHORN, VERONICA COOPER and ERNEST HEMINGWAY visit upon the newlywed authors leaving for China.” And I first have compliments for everyone’s chic suits — obviously Gary Cooper wins that head-to-head battle but it’s hardly a fair fight. Then, second, I have two questions, for which I have attempted to find answers:

1. Were Gary Cooper and Ernest Hemingway friends? It turns out: Yes! Per Cooper’s wiki:

Cooper’s twenty-year friendship with Ernest Hemingway began at Sun Valley in October 1940.The previous year, Hemingway drew upon Cooper’s image when he created the character of Robert Jordan for the novel For Whom the Bell Tolls. The two shared a passion for the outdoors, and for years they hunted duck and pheasant, and skied together in Sun Valley. Both men admired the work of Rudyard Kipling—Cooper kept a copy of the poem “If—” in his dressing room—and retained as adults Kipling’s sense of boyish adventure. As well as admiring Cooper’s hunting skills and knowledge of the outdoors, Hemingway believed his character matched his screen persona, once telling a friend, “If you made up a character like Coop, nobody would believe it. He’s just too good to be true.” They saw each other often, and their friendship remained strong through the years.

I am annoyed that no one ever mentioned this about Gary Cooper when they were teaching me For Whom the Bell Tolls! That is a very diverting tidbit. (Additionally, Gary Cooper’s “Personal Life” section is VERY interesting. The famous costume designer Irene — whom I know thanks to my obsession with fancy paper dolls as a child — jumped off the top of a hotel when he died, for example. [This was not covered in my paper dolls, wisely.])

2. What was this promoting? Was it a Gary Cooper project or whatever Hemingway was up to? Okay, I dug through some stuff to try to figure this out, and Hemingway and Gellhorn (an extraordinarily interesting person in her own right; I very much liked Love and Ruin, a novel about her, and she deserves to have more books written about her) were married around this time, and headed off to Asia for what they said was a honeymoon but what might have actually been a fact-finding mission for US government? But which was also meant to be, at least for her, a work trip. So I guess the Coopers are at least in part glamorously seeing off their friends! (That linked article mentions that allegedly Hemingway introduced Hong Kong to the Bloody Mary and also drank a LOT on the trip, which annoyed Gellhorn. I cannot blame her — I like Hemingway very much as a writer but seriously do not marry him — but also how was this surprising? Martha. Just look at him. But what WAS perhaps surprising was that he allegedly also scooped her on a story while they were there. That would have irked me more than the drinking.)

Anyway, For Whom the Bell Tolls had come out less than six months ago at this point, so I bet this photo opp was at least in part to promote Cooper’s casting in the movie.

It would ALSO have been useful for selling smart blazers to people, to be honest.

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