There's nothing sweeter than seeing a happy marriage stand the test of time, especially in Hollywood. Academy Award winner Chris Cooper has been married to writer and actress Marianne Leone for 38 years and we can't get enough of them. The couple has really been through some trying times, including the devastating loss of a child, but they have leaned on each other through everything and come out stronger than ever.
We love Chris Cooper for playing all of the gruff, grumpy characters in his films, but in real life, he's just a family man at heart. The actor grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, spending his summers living on his family's cattle ranch. After high school, he stayed close to home and attended the University of Missouri where he decided to study theater. After graduation, he moved up to New York City where he renovated apartments to support himself while pursuing acting roles on Broadway and television. Eventually, all of his hard work would pay off.
Some of his earlier roles include Guilty by Suspicion, City of Hope, Lone Star, A Time to Kill, Great Expectations, The Horse Whisperer, and October Sky. Cooper earned critical acclaim for the role of
Colonel Fitts in the Oscar-winning film American Beauty. He won an Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for playing John Laroche in Adaptation. He's appeared in countless popular films over the years like The Patriot, Jarhead, The Bourne Identity, The Town, Syriana, Silver City, Thousand Pieces of Gold, The Kingdom, Little Women, August: Osage County, Seabiscuit, Matewan, Capote, The Company Men, The Muppets, Where the Wild Things Are, and Me, Myself & Irene. He's worked with everyone from Meryl Streep and Ben Affleck to Jake Gyllenhaal and Tommy Lee Jones in the miniseries Lonesome Dove. He can play an FBI agent, a cowboy, a Texas sheriff, and everything in between.
Meanwhile, his wife is most widely recognized for her recurring role in the HBO series The Sopranos as well as appearances in the films Goodfellas and True Love. The couple first met in the 70s while studying acting with Stella Adler when they were still unknown actors. According to Cooper, his future wife helped him carry sheetrock up eight flights of stairs on their very first date. ''That's when I knew this was the girl for me,'' he told the New York Times. The couple married in 1983 and have been together ever since.
The couple's son, Jesse Lanier Cooper, was born three months prematurely and developed cerebral palsy and epilepsy. The couple was determined for him to have every advantage in life, despite being differently-abled and as a result, Jesse became an honor student. Though he passed away in 2005 from a seizure when he was just 17 years old, the couple continues to advocate for children with special needs. They even contributed to the documentary Intelligent Lives to help educate others on the possibilities for special needs children.
"Jesse had quadriplegia and was non-verbal, so if he needed to be tested, he needed to be tested on a computer. When he was finally tested on a computer he scored in the 99th percentile. He was brighter than Chris and I," Marianne explained to PEOPLE.
Despite their tragic loss, Marianne said that she and her husband think of their son often.
"We always say he was our greatest teacher," says Leone. "He taught us a lot. He taught us what was important and he taught us never to lose sight of what was important."
As for married life these days, it seems like every day is a beautiful day for the Coopers because they genuinely love being around each other. Chris told Boston Magazine, "I have an amazing wife whom I adore and love to be with," adding that she's the funniest person he knows.
Cheers to many more happy years of marriage for Chris and Marianne Cooper!