The untold story behind the first great sports film.
On July 4, 1939, baseball great Lou Gehrig stood in Yankee Stadium and gave a speech that contained the phrase that would become legendary: “I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
He died two years later and his fiery widow, Eleanor, wanted nothing more than to keep his memory alive. With her forceful will, she and the irascible producer Samuel Goldwyn quickly agreed to make a film based on Gehrig’s life, “The Pride of the Yankees.” Goldwyn didn’t understand — or care about — baseball. For him this film was the emotional story of a quiet, modest hero who married a spirited woman who was the love of his life, and, after a storied career, gave a short speech that transformed his legacy. With the world at war and soldiers dying on foreign soil, it was the kind of movie America needed.
Using original scripts, letters, memos, and other rare documents, Richard Sandomir tells the behind-the-scenes story of how a classic was born. The search to find the actor to play Gehrig; the stunning revelations Eleanor made to the scriptwriter Paul Gallico about her life with Lou; the intensive training Gary Cooper underwent to learn how to catch, throw, and hit a baseball for the first time.
Join Richard Sandomir for our intimate Clubhouse conversation on Thursday, June 22. RSVP required to attend.
Autographed and personalized copies of “The Pride of the Yankees: Lou Gehrig, Gary Cooper, and the Making of a Classic” will be available for purchase. The author will sign only books purchased in the Clubhouse.
Richard Sandomir is an author and a reporter with the “New York Times.”