Jackie Cooper, the first performer nominated for a Best Actor Oscar before his 18th birthday, has died in Beverly Hills. He was 88.
Contemporary audiences may know him best for the role that capped his filmography, as Perry White, the crusty editor of the Daily Planet in the Christopher Reeve “Superman” movies.
But in the early days of talkies, Jackie Cooper captured Americans’ hearts in “Our Gang” and musical shorts. His breakout year was 1931, when he was 9-years-old. Cooper won an Oscar nomination for his title role in “Skippy," but lost to Wallace Beery, his co-star in “The Champ.”
Dozens more feature film and TV appearances followed and in between, Cooper compiled a distinguished record as a US Naval Reserve pilot, recruiter and trainer.
Although he kept acting and directing into the 1990s, the performer once known as “America’s Boy” kept his son out of the business when his old studio, MGM, wanted to sign him. Cooper said at the time, “it’s no way for a kid to grow up.” None of his four children became actors.