Elizabeth Cooper (born Isabel Rosario Cooper; January 15, 1914 – June 29, 1960) was a Scottish-Filipina film actress, vaudeville dancer, and singer. In addition to her movie career, Cooper was also known for being the mistress of General Douglas MacArthur.
Born in Manila, she was the recipient of the first on-screen kiss in a Filipino movie, Ang Tatlong Hambog (1926). In 1930, she met US General Douglas MacArthur and became his mistress. He arranged for her to follow him to Washington, D.C..
While serving as Army Chief of Staff in the 1930s, MacArthur filed a libel action against a journalist at The Washington Post, Drew Pearson. When Pearson added Cooper to his list of witnesses to be deposed, MacArthur dropped the suit. MacArthur subsequently paid Cooper $15,000 to leave Washington, the money allegedly delivered by his aide, Dwight Eisenhower.
She was born Isabel Rosario Cooper to a Scottish father and Chinese-Filipina mother haciendera from Vallehermoso, Negros Oriental. She was nicknamed "Dimples". As a teenager she traveled Southeast Asia as a torch singer-entertainer. She broke into films by 1925. Her most prominent films were Miracles of Love (1925) and Ang Tatlong Hambog (1926). In the latter film, Cooper made Philippine film history with Luis Tuason when they performed the very first kissing scene in a Philippine film. She was, apparently, 12 years old at the time. Cooper made her last movie, Ikaw Pala, in 1941 under LVN Pictures.
Relationship with General MacArthur
Cooper met American General Douglas MacArthur, then commander of all U.S. troops in the Philippines, in 1930, five months before he returned to the United States. She subsequently became his mistress in Manila, a fact the fifty-plus MacArthur hid from his 80 year-old mother.
She eventually ended up ensconced in an apartment in Washington, D.C. when General MacArthur was appointed Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army and was transferred there, a situation which did not best suit Cooper's lively personality. According to one biographer of MacArthur, William Manchester, MacArthur "showered [Cooper] with presents and bought her many lacy tea gowns, but no raincoat. She didn't need one, he told her; her duty lay in bed."
When the secret affair threatened to become public, MacArthur brought it to an end and gave Cooper a ticket back to the Philippines which she did not use; she never returned to the Philippines. Cooper moved to the Midwestern United States, where she owned a hairdressing salon, before moving to Los Angeles several years later.
- 1925 Miracles of Love
- 1926 Ang Tatlong Hambog
- 1927 Fate or Consequence
- 1941 Ikaw Pala
- KARNOW, Stanley. "Isabel Rosario Cooper". In Our Image: America's Empire in the Philippines. Random House (1989). ISBN 978-0-394-54975-0.
- Dates cited in California Death Index, accessed 23 May 2011.
- USAFA site.
- William Manchester, American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur, 1880-1964 (Hachette Book Group, 1978)
- Manchester, William. American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880–1964. Laurel: 1983. ISBN 0-440-30424-5.
- Garcia, Jessie B. (2004). A Movie Album Quizbook. Iloilo City, Philippines: Erehwon Books & Magazine. pp. 78–80, 127. ISBN 971-93297-0-X.