Living Dangerously: The Adventures of Merian C. Cooper, Creator of King Kong

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Villard, 2005 - Biography & Autobiography - 478 pages
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Explorer, war hero, filmmaker, and cinema pioneer Merian C. Cooper–the adventurer who created King Kong–was truly larger than life. “Pictures cannot be made from an executive’s desk,” “Coop” declared, and he did more than talk the talk–he walked the walk to the far corners of the globe, with a motion picture camera in tow, in an era when those corners were truly unknown, untamed, and unforgiving.

Cooper’s place in history is assured, thanks not only to the monstrous gorilla from Skull Island but because the story of Kong’s creator is even bigger and bolder than the beast he made into a cultural icon. Spellbound since boyhood by tales of life-threatening adventure and exotic locales, Cooper plunged again and again into harrowing expeditions that took him to places not yet civilized by modern man.

Cooper was one of the first bomber pilots in World War I. After the war, he helped form the famous Kosciuszko Squadron in battle-torn Poland. He then turned his attention to producing documentary films that chronicled his hair-raising encounters with savage warriors, man-eating tigers, nomadic tribes, and elephant stampedes.

In addition to producing King Kong, he was the first to team Fred Astaire with Ginger Rogers, arranged Katharine Hepburn’s screen test, collaborated with John Ford on Hollywood’s greatest Westerns, and then changed the face of film forever with Cinerama, the original “virtual reality.” He returned to military service during World War II, serving with General Claire Chennault in China, flying missions into the heart of enemy territory.

This book is a stunning tribute to a two-fisted visionary who packed a multitude of lifetimes into eighty remarkable years. The first comprehensive biography of this unique man and his amazing time, it’s the tale of someone whose greatest desire was always to be living dangerously.

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About the author (2005)

Mark Cotta Vaz is the author of such New York Times bestsellers as The Art of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Behind the Mask of Spider-Man. Living Dangerously is his nineteenth published book. His other works include the critically acclaimed The Invisible Art: The Legends of Movie Matte Painting (co-authored with filmmaker Craig Barron), which won the Theatre Library Association of New York award for outstanding book on film in 2002 and the United States Institute for Theatre Technology’s Golden Pen book award. More recent projects include a first novel and a history of the segregated units of World War II.

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