Jackie Cooper, R.I.P.
Jackie Cooper (John Cooper, Jr.), well known Hollywood actor, passed away May 3rd. He was 88.
Best known to genre fans for his role as the curmudgeonly Perry White in the four SUPERMAN films with Christopher Reeve, Jackie Cooper started out as a child actor in the OUR GANG COMEDIES (1929-31, known in the TV era as THE LITTLE RASCALS).
Standing out among his co-stars in the short subjects, he was cast in the title role of the comic strip adaptation SKIPPY, which netted a 1931 Oscar for Normna Taurog (his uncle) as Best Director, and a nomination for Best Actor for the young Cooper. His co-star in THE CHAMP, Wallace Beery, took home that Award.
Many juvenile leads such as Jim Hawkins in TREASURE ISLAND (1934) followed for Jackie Cooper as he grew up. He served in WWII and afterwards in the U.S. Navy and Naval Reserve as a pilot, achieving the rank of Captain. This real-life experience would come in handy for his role of Lt. ‘Chick’ Hennesy, USN in his TV series HENNESEY (1959-61).
Other genre related roles included live TV dramas such as TALES OF TOMORROW (1952), several episodes of SUSPENSE (The Invisible Killer), plus THE TWILGHT ZONE (Caesar and Me), CIRCLE OF FEAR, TV movies SHADOW ON THE LAND (1968) and THE ASTRONAUT (1972), the apocalyptic suspense film CHOSEN SURVIVORS (1974), and guested on THE INVISIBLE MAN TV series (1975) and BEASTS (1976).
Oddly enough, Cooper was not originally cast as the sometimes irascible Perry White in SUPERMAN (1978); he became an eleventh hour substitute when character actor Keenan Wynn fell ill.
Jackie Cooper retired from acting in 1989, to care for his ailing wife Barbara until her passing in 2009.