Jackie Cooper reported dead
Nominated for an Oscar at the age of nine, Jackie Cooper‘s on-screen career began in 1929 and continued through 1990.
He was one of “Our Gang” (The Little Rascals), and viewers of those early shorts (who may have seen them on TV, decades after they appeared in movie theatres) may remember his character’s crush on the teacher, Miss Crabtree.
When he appeared in The Champ with Wallace Beery, his career moved to a new level. He got that Oscar nomination, and went on to work with Beery in a number of movies, including 1934’s Treasure Island.
I remember when his autobiography came out: “Please Don’t Shoot My Dog”. That was a bit of a shocking title for me…a director had threatened to shoot his dog to get an emotional performance out of him.
He appeared in geek-friendly TV shows (Tales of Tomorrow and the Twilight Zone).
It was in 1978 that his fame was renewed as iconic comic book character Perry White, the editor of The Daily Planet, and boss to Clark Kent (Superman), Lois Lane, and Jimmy Olsen. He would go on to play the role in all four Christopher Reeve movies.
He wasn’t just in front of the camera. In the 1970s he directed a number of TV episodes, notably M*A*S*H. He was nominated for four directing Emmys, and directed episodes of Sledge Hammer! and Superboy.
Even as a child actor, there was something sad about Jackie Cooper…something in his eyes. Unlike many kids, he didn’t appear to be carefree. He brought genuine emotion to the screen: often not anger, which is easy to fake, or happiness (which people want to recognize in others, whether it is really there or not). Few child actors can cry believably on screen…Jackie Cooper could. What did it cost him to be able to do that?
Still, I think he did what he loved as an adult, and it was great to see him as Perry White.
Good-bye, Jackie…you’ll always be part of Our Gang.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.