Child-actor turned Hollywood legend, Jackie Cooper has passed away at the age of 88. The actor died Tuesday at a hospital in Beverly Hills after a brief illness. Film and television fans will remember Cooper from a number of iconic (and memorable) performances and film work including his Oscar-nominated role as the titular character Skippy (at age 9), his Emmy winning direction on M*A*S*H, as well as the role that endeared him to comic book fans around the world – Perry White in the Christopher Reeve Superman films.
The actor left his mark on Hollywood and remains one of only a handful of child actors who found success after they attempted the notorious jump from adolescence to adult film roles.
Cooper got his start in acting back in 1929, when he was only 7 years old, in a number short films and other uncredited roles. However, only two years later the young actor starred in Skippy, an adaptation of Percy Crosby’s comic strip about a young boy who attempts to help out a new friend. The film went on to be nominated for best picture – and, subsequently, Cooper was nominated for best actor. The nomination put the young star on the map and he enjoyed a myriad of successes over the next four years, up until he reached his mid-teenage years – when Cooper, like many child actors, found difficulty finding roles that suited his age.
While Cooper still managed to find acting work, he struggled to get anywhere close to the success of his childhood roles. He later went off to fight in the South Pacific with the Navy during WWII.
Skippy turned out to be the actor’s only Oscar nomination but over the years he would receive multiple Emmy nominations – starting in 1961 for his role as Lt. Charles ‘Chick’ Hennesey in the TV series Hennesey. The actor would again be nominated the following year but wouldn’t actually win an Emmy until he stepped behind the camera – racking up wins for directing television projects M.A.S.H. and The White Shadow, in 1974 and 1979 respectively.
Next to his work as Skippy, Cooper’s most memorable role may be that of Perry White, the iconic Daily Planet editor, in all four Superman films starring Christopher Reeve.
Cooper had four children: John “Jack” Cooper III (born 1946) with his first wife June Horne as well as Russell (born in 1956), Julie (1957-1997) and Cristina (1959-2009) with his last wife Barbara Kraus. The two remained married for 54 years, until 2009 – when she passed away.
Screen Rant would like to extended our condolences to Mr. Cooper’s family and friends in their time of grieving.
R.I.P. JOHN ‘JACKIE’ COOPER: September 15, 1922 – May 3, 2011