The Pride of the Yankees: Lou Gehrig, Gary Cooper, and the Making of a Classic

The Pride of the Yankees: Lou Gehrig, Gary Cooper, and the Making of a Classic

by Richard Sandomir


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On July 4, 1939, Gehrig delivered what has been called "baseball's Gettysburg Address" at Yankee Stadium. There is, for now, no known, intact film of Gehrig's speech, but instead, just a swatch of the newsreel footage has survived, incorporating his opening and closing remarks: "For the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth," the last line, of course, having become one of the most famous, invoked, and inspiring, ever, anywhere. The New York Times account, the following day, called it "one of the most touching scenes ever witnessed on a ball field", that made even hard-boiled reporters "swallow hard."

The scene and the story would likely have been largely lost to history, altogether, were it not for the film, Pride of the Yankees, best known for Gary Cooper, as the dying Lou Gehrig, movingly describing himself as "the luckiest man on the face of the earth," even as his body was being ravaged by the disease that was soon named after him.

Here, now, in IRON HERO: Pride of the Yankees and the Legend of Lou Gehrig by Richard Sandomir, New York Times sports columnist, is, for the first time, the full story behind the pioneering, seminal movie. Filled with larger than life characters and unexpected facts, Iron Hero shows us how Samuel Goldwyn had no desire to making a baseball film but he was persuaded to make a quick deal with Lou's widow, Eleanor, not long after Gehrig had passed; Hollywood icon Cooper had zero knowledge of baseball and had to be taught to play; unknown parts of the screen treatment and screenplay that will be written about for the first time; and dishy letters to Eleanor from Christy Walsh, the pioneering business manager who represented the Gehrigs, from the Los Angeles set.

Nostalgic, breezy and fun, IRON HERO captures a lost time in film and sports history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316355056
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication date: 06/13/2017
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 491,602
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Richard Sandomir has been the award-winning sports media and sports business writer for the New York Times since 1991.He is the author or co-author of several books including Bald Like Me, and, most recently, The Enlightened Bracketologist, and its sequel, The Final Four of Everything.

Table of Contents

Foreword 1

1 A Brilliant Career, a Tragic Death 9

2 Hollywood Beckons the Widow Gehrig 28

3 The Tears of a Mogul 37

4 In Search of Lou Gehrig 46

5 Babe on Film 58

6 Not All Yankees Welcome 70

7 The Producer and the Star 76

8 Eleanor: Defender of Lou's Legacy 88

9 Teresa Wright Will Not Do Cheesecake! 101

10 Becoming Lou: Cooper Learns to Play Baseball 110

11 Did Cooper, a Right-Hander, Become Gehrig, a Left-Hander? 128

12 Mama's Boy 140

13 "Lou Seems to Have Become More Gary Cooper Than Lou Gehrig" 173

14 Words for All Time 195

What People are Saying About This

Gay Talese

"The riveting story behind the making of The Pride of the Yankees is finally being told in Richard Sandomir's meticulously-researched and gracefully-written book. He brings to vivid life Eleanor Gehrig, Gary Cooper and Samuel Goldwyn's efforts to turn a hero's life into a heartfelt film."

author of John Wayne: Life and Legend - Scott Eyman

"There are very few great movies about sports, but after more than seventy years The Pride of the Yankees remains at the top of the roster because it focuses on the pride and grace that sports, at their best, display. As Richard Sandomir's fascinating book shows, this beautiful movie emerged simply because Sam Goldwyn needed a vehicle for Gary Cooper, whose gift for quiet anguish made Lou Gehrig immortal. It's an irresistible story."

New York Times bestselling author of The Devil's Candy and Wendy and the Lost Boys - Julie Salamon

"The brave, tragic story of Lou Gehrig, the great baseball player, was a script waiting to be written. With affection and reportorial savvy, Richard Sandomir describes how one myth begat another to produce the legendary baseball movie that still can make people cry. The Pride of the Yankees recalls a lost world, when Hollywood had the power to create dreams that people wanted to believe."

New York Times bestselling author of Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN - James Andrew Miller

"More than the story of a movie or even an era of baseball, Richard Sandomir's brilliantly reported book transports us back to an age of real heroes who had both grit and elegance. In doing so, he issues a valuable challenge to today's stars: character matters."

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