Last Sunday “America’s Boy,” Jackie Cooper, passed away at age 88. The veteran actor began his 60-plus year career as an extra at age 3 before landing the role of the smart-aleck leader of a gang of neighborhood troublemakers in the first “talkie” episodes of the “Our Gang” series (better known as “The Little Rascals” to you young’ins). At 9 years old the charismatic Cooper became the youngest actor ever to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his brilliant performance in Skippy (1931).
As a teenager, Cooper was able to transition from child star to matinee idol, appearing alongside other rising stars like Judy Garland, Jimmy Stewart, Deanna Durbin and Freddie Bartholomew. As an adult, Cooper made another seamless transition from film to television, starring in “The People’s Choice” and “Hennesey” and making countless guest appearance on shows like “Hawaii Five-0,” “Kojak,” “Columbo” and “The Rockford Files.” But Cooper never abandoned his film career; most notably, he co-starred with Christopher Reeve in the handful of Superman films produced in the 1980s.
Jackie Cooper proved early in his life that he was an exceptional talent. The longevity he has achieved in the entertainment industry is further testament to his skill as an actor. Cooper grew up on the silver screen and America grew up with him. He will forever be remembered as the national treasure he was: “America’s Boy.”