Jackie Cooper, 1922 - 2011

Updated through 5/7.

"Jackie Cooper, the pug-nosed kid who became America's Boy in tear-jerker films of the Great Depression, then survived Hollywood's notorious graveyard of child stardom and flourished as an adult in television and modern pictures, died Tuesday in Los Angeles. He was 88." Robert D McFadden for the New York Times: "Before the heydays of Shirley Temple and Mickey Rooney, young Jackie, a ragged urchin with a pout and a mischievous half-winked eye, was dreaming up schemes in Our Gang comedies and Wallace Beery pictures, like Treasure Island, that Hollywood churned out. At 9 he became the youngest Oscar nominee for best actor (a record that he still holds), in Skippy (1931). Later he dated Lana Turner and Judy Garland, and spent weekends on the yacht of MGM's boss, Louis B Mayer."

In the Los Angeles Times, Dennis McLellan notes that during his MGM heyday, Cooper "placed his foot- and handprints in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theatre. Newspapers and magazines reported his comings and goings. And he had a fan club, a namesake newspaper and someone to answer his fan mail. He also met President Franklin D Roosevelt and aviator Charles Lindbergh. Clara Bow was a frequent guest at his home in Beverly Hills, and George Gershwin once stopped by to play the family's grand piano." At 17, "he had a secret, six-month fling with an older MGM colleague: Joan Crawford." He would go on to "become a successful TV star in the 1950s, a top television studio executive in the 60s and an Emmy Award-winning director in the 70s."

"Mr Cooper returned to acting in the 1970s and 1980s as Daily Planet Editor Perry White in the Superman film series with Christopher Reeve," reports Nellie Bowles in the San Francisco Chronicle. "Mr Cooper officially retired in 1989, and his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame can be found at 1501 Vine St. 'He retired, and I was like, "Dad, you're only 67,"' recounts Cooper III. 'He looked at me and said, "Yeah, but I worked for 64 years."'"

Update: "King Vidor's The Champ was a touching tale of an ex-champion prizefighter (Wallace Beery) and his small son (Cooper) trying to scrape a living in Tijuana, Mexico," writes Ronald Bergan in the Guardian. "Cooper was the antithesis of the grizzled, good-bad ugly guy Beery, yet the chemistry between them was remarkable. Cooper would relate years later that Beery off-camera was a disagreeable man. Cooper remembers that he once impulsively threw his arms around Beery after an especially well-played tender scene and that the gruff Beery pushed him away. Cooper produced genuine tears. The duo would make three further films together. In Raoul Walsh's rousing The Bowery (1933) and, in the sentimental O'Shaughnessy's Boy (1935), the oafish Beery tries to win Cooper's affection. However, the film that Cooper was justifiably most proud of was Treasure Island (1934), in which both he, as Jim Hawkins, and Beery, as Long John Silver, were excellent."

Update, 5/7: Cooper "had the gift of making us take him for granted." Glenn Kenny explains.

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