For a whole generation of moviegoers, Jackie Cooper’s entire film career is contained in only one film role–the definitive Perry White in the definitive Superman (with all apologies to Frank Langella).
And while he was great in the role–bringing a ’30s-style irascibility with ’70s style slickness to the role of Clark and Lois’ editor–that wasn’t his only contribution to Hollywood history.
Cooper film career started way back in 1925 when he was three, and quickly became one of the first child stars of the sound era. His appearances in the “Our Gang” comedies led to him developing a solo film career of his own.
He will forever be noted in film history as being the youngest person ever nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award, which he received for Skippy in 1931 when Cooper was 9-years-old. It is a record that has stood for 80 years, and it doesn’t appear to be at risk of going away any time soon.
His attempts to build an adult film career was interrupted by World War II, as Cooper served in the Navy in the Pacific theater during the end of the war.
Cooper came back to Hollywood just in time for the Television boom. This is where Cooper would find a home from the 1950s on, performing in front of the cameras in a number of short-lived TV series and guest appearance and behind the camera as a director (where he won a number of Emmys for his work) and producer.
Cooper died in a hospital today after a short illness, and a piece of Hollywood history died with him.