May 8, 1913|
Milwaukie, Oregon, U.S.
|Died||January 6, 1990
Southfield, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Alma mater||Pasadena Playhouse|
|Occupation||Actor, director, writer|
(m. 1937-1948; div.)
(m. 1949-1990; his death)
|Children||Peter, Jane, Gary, Tony|
|Relatives||Whitney W. Straight
Michael W. Straight
Peter Cookson (May 8, 1913 – January 6, 1990) was a stage and film actor of the 1940s and 1950s. He was known for his collaborations with his wife, Beatrice Straight the actress and member of the Whitney family.
Cookson was born on May 8, 1913 on a houseboat on the Willamette River in Milwaukie, Oregon to Gerald Cookson, a career British Army officer, and Helen Willis, a nurse. Cookson attended the Pasadena Playhouse on a scholarship.
He appeared in the play The Heiress on Broadway in 1947, where he met his wife to-be, Beatrice Straight. He was also a producer and produced the play The Innocents on Broadway in 1950, starring his wife.  Cookson's most famous stage role was of the love struck judge in Cole Porter's 1953 musical Can Can in which he introduced the song "It's All Right With Me." "In interviews at the time, he said he was astonished at being given the part, as he had not sung for an audience since high school."
Peter and Maureen separated in Spring 1947. They attempted a reconciliation in the Summer of 1947, renting a house in Denver. At that time, Cookson had an affair with actress Patricia Neal. His wife found out and left him.
In 1948, while starring in the Broadway production of The Heiress, an adaptation of Henry James's Washington Square, Cookson met Beatrice Straight (1914–2001), who he was acting opposite. Straight was the daughter of Dorothy Payne Whitney (1887–1968), of the Whitney family, and Willard Dickerman Straight (1880–1918), an investment banker and diplomat. Straight's step-father was Leonard Knight Elmhirst (1893–1974). Cookson and Straight married in 1949, and had two children:
- Gary Cookson, an actor.
- Tony Cookson, writer and director of And You Thought Your Parents Were Weird (1991)
- Henderson's Head (1973), a novel described as "sexually whiffy psychotic stuff" by Kirkus Reviews.
- Pigeons, a comedy play later turned into a script in 1986.
- Million Rosebuds (1978), a play written with the New Dramatists
- Unique Species (1984), a play.
Filmography and credits
|A Guy Named Joe||Film||1943||Sgt. Hanson (uncredited)|
|Detective Kitty O'Day||Film||1944||Johnny Jones|
|The Girl Who Dared||Film||1944||Rufus Blair|
|Shadow of Suspicion||Film||1944||Jimmy Dale|
|Adventures of Kitty O'Day||Film||1945||Johnny Jones|
|G.I. Honeymoon||Film||1945||Lt. Robert 'Bob" Gordon|
|Behind City Lights||Film||1945||Kirk Norris|
|The Scarlet Horseman||Film||1946||Lance Marlow|
|Strange Conquest||Film||1946||William Sommers|
|Don't Gamble with Strangers||Film||1946||Bob Randall|
|Message for Margaret||Theatre||1947||Robert Chalcot||Theatre World Award (winner)|
|The Heiress||Theatre||1947-48||Morris Townsend|
|The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse||Television||1949|
|Robert Montgomery Presents||Television||1950||Maxim de Winter|
|The Innocents||Theatre||1950||Producer (ft. Beatrice Straight)|
|The Billy Rose Show||Television||1951|
|The Little Blue Light||Theatre||1950||Ellis||Producer|
|Broadway Television Theatre||Television||1952||Nathaniel Dunham|
|Seagulls Over Sorrento||Theatre||1952||Producer|
|Suspense||Television||1952-54||Maj. de Spain / Jack Trent|
|Can-Can||Theatre||1953-5||Judge Aristide Forestier|
|Studio One in Hollywood||Television||1954|
|Appointment with Adventure||Television||1955||Jamison Wyatt|
|The Millionaire||Television||1957||Alan Bruce|
|Telephone Time||Television||1957||Paul Wallace|
|Armstrong Circle Theatre||Television||1955-57|
|The United States Steel Hour||Television||1957|
|Four Winds||Theatre||1957||Garrett Scott|
|The DuPont Show of the Month||Television||1958|
|Kraft Theatre||Television||1952-58||Bruis / Mr. Knightley|
|The Investigator||Television||1958||A Debonair Bachelor|
|The Right Honourable Gentleman||Theatre||1965-66||Producer, Tony Award for Best Play (Nominee)|
- "Peter Cookson Biography (1913-1990)". www.filmreference.com. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
- "Peter Cookson, 76, A Writer, Producer And Stage Actor" The New York Times, January 8, 1990
- League, The Broadway. "Peter Cookson – Broadway Cast & Staff | IBDB". www.ibdb.com. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
- "Peter Cookson Broadway" playbillvault.com, accessed September 16, 2015
- Times, Special To The New York (29 June 1953). "Cookson Returning to 'Can-Can'". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
- Garfield, David (1980). "Birth of The Actors Studio: 1947-1950". A Player's Place: The Story of The Actors Studio. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 52. ISBN 0-02-542650-8.
Lewis' class included Herbert Berghof, Marlon Brando... Beatrice Straight, Eli Wallach, and David Wayne... Also Henry Barnard, Jay Barney, John Becher, Philip Bourneuf, Joan Chandler, Peter Cookson, Stephen Elliott, Robert Emhardt, Joy Geffen, William Hansen, Will Hare, Jane Hoffman, George Keane, Don Keefer, George Matthews, Peggy Meredith, Ty Perry, Margaret Phillips, David Pressman, William Prince, Elliot Reid, Frances Reid, Kurt Richards, Elizabeth Ross, Thelma Schnee, Joshua Shelley, Fed Stewart, John Straub, Michael Strong, John Sylvester, Julie Warren, Mary Welch, Lois Wheeler, and William Woodson.
- "Peter Cookson". IMDb. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
- Shearer, Stephen (2006). Patricia Neal: An Unquiet Life. Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0813171369. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
- Fluker, Kit. "Beatrice Straight papers 1922-1987 [bulk 1968-1986]". nypl.org. Archives of the New York Public Library. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
- "AIDES FURTHERING SCHOOLS' BENEFIT Committee Advances Sale of Tickets for 'Janus' to Help Two Scholarship Funds". The New York Times. October 2, 1955. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
- Staff, Variety (16 April 2001). "Beatrice Straight". Variety. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
- Mel Gussow (April 11, 2001). "Beatrice Straight, Versatile Star, Dies at 86". New York Times. Retrieved 2015-01-21.
Beatrice Straight, a graceful and versatile actress who won both an Oscar and a Tony Award, died on Saturday in North Ridge, Calif. She was 86 and lived in Beverly Hills, Calif., for most of the last 10 years. ...
- Cookson, Peter (1973). Henderson's head : a novel. New York: Putnam. ISBN 0399111654.
- Nov. 26th, 1973. "HENDERSON'S HEAD by Peter Cookson | Kirkus Reviews". kirkusreviews.com. Putnam. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
- Magers, Donna. "Serial Report Chapter 73-Adrian Booth, Peter Cookson, Tom Mix, The Fatal Warning". www.westernclippings.com. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
- "RMC: Beatrice Straight Papers". rmc.library.cornell.edu. Cornell University. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
- "Peter Cookson; Actor and Writer". Los Angeles Times. 12 January 1990. Retrieved 20 September 2016.