The Friars Club is a private club with locations in New York and Los Angeles and is probably best known for its celebrity roasts. On 8 January 1961 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, a roast was held in honour of Gary Cooper celebrating his 30 years of movie stardom. Amongst the celebrity speakers at the testimonial dinner were Audrey Hepburn, Greer Garson, Dean Martin and Tony Curtis (to listen to the original recordings of Cooper's roast, click here and here). Funds that were raised at the dinner party later went to charities.
|Gary Cooper (flanked by Dean Martin and Tony Martin) having fun at his roast|
The Friars Club Roast was one of Cooper's last public appearances. Cooper was having treatment for prostate and colon cancer and found out in February 1961 that the cancer was terminal. Several months later, on 13 May, Gary Cooper passed away. The letter for this post is dated 9 February 1961 and was written a month after the Friars' testimonial. It's addressed to Peter Lawford, and Cooper thanks him for the telegram he received on the occasion of his roast.
|Gary Cooper with daughter Maria at the party|
February 9, 1961
Belated thanks for your swell wire at the occasion of the Friars' Testimonial for me.
This comes a little late but I went to Sun Valley immediately after to stop my head spinning from the flattery of it all. The shindig was great and I'm glad they made lots of dough for their charities.
Many thanks for making me feel good about it all.
Mr. Peter Lawford
443 Ocean Front
Santa Monica, California