Maria Cooper Janis was born in Los Angeles, California and lived there with her parents, the actor Gary Cooper and his wife Veronica Cooper.
She followed a painting career in New York and in 1966 married the world renowned concert pianist, Byron Janis. Although Mr. Janis’ busy schedule has led them all over the world, Mrs. Janis has enjoyed a successful career as an artist. She pursues her paintings with great energy, exhibiting in the United States as well as Europe and Asia.
Maria Cooper Janis is involved with the American Arthritis Foundation of which her husband, Byron Janis is the National Spokesperson and she sits on the board of Pro Musicis, an organization committed to furthering the careers of young musicians. She also works with the Neuropathy Foundation and is an active board member of the ASPR (American Society for Psychical Research).
She has collaborated on three television specials, one produced by TNT “Gary Cooper, American Life, American Legend,” another, part of TNT’s Biography Series entitled “The Life and Times of Gary Cooper” and she has worked with A&E to contribute to a special on her father for their Biography program titled, “Gary Cooper: The Face of a Hero” which was aired in March of 1998. She has collaborated abroad with a PBS/French production of “Frederick Chopin: A Voyage with Byron Janis.” Mrs. Janis frequently lectures around the country on such topics as, “Growing Up in Hollywood” often with her longtime friend Joan Benny.
She has written a book Gary Cooper off Camera: A Daughter Remembers which gives an inside look into the persona of one of the greatest movie stars of all time. She has collaborated with author Bruce Boyer on Gary Cooper Enduring Style, published in November of 2011 by powerHouse Books with an introduction by Ralph Lauren.
Maria Cooper Janis has been working on a feature film documentary, “The True Gen,” about the special 20-year friendship between Gary Cooper and Ernest Hemingway, the score of which is composed by Byron Janis. She has just finished work as a consultant on the PBS documentary produced by Peter Rosen, The Byron Janis Story, about the life of Byron Janis which is currently being aired nationally and contributed to his new autobiography, Chopin and Beyond: My Extraordinary Life in Music and the Paranormal.
In addition to film projects, she continues her work as a painter and also works with American Indian interests, something that was very close to her father’s heart, and has started the Gary Cooper Scholarship for American Indian Students in Film and Television at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.