Thursday, May 5, 2011
RIP JACKIE COOPER
Legendary actor-director-producer Jackie Cooper has passed away at the age of 88. I won't go into deep details on his career as I couldn't possibly cover it as eloquently as others who knew the man may end up doing. I for one am looking forward to seeing any articles that may be forthcoming from Leonard Maltin and/or Richard W. Bann, authors of the essential "Our Gang: the Life & Times of the Little Rascals."
Some Cooper highlights include at least three iconic roles: Jack/Jackie in the "Our Gang" theatrical short subjects from Hal Roach Studios (better known to generations who saw the films on TV as "The Little Rascals"), beleaguered boxer Wallace Beery's son in "The Champ," and Daily Planet newspaper editor (and boss to Clark Kent, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen) in the "Superman" movies from the 1970s and '80s.
Shortly after he left the Our Gang series Cooper was nominated for Best Actor for the title role in 1931's "Skippy" (at the age of 9!). On top of that he had the title role (and was nominated for two Emmy awards) portraying TV's "Hennesey" (a navy lieutenant doctor - Cooper also produced the show) and directed two Emmy-winning TV episodes - one each of "M*A*S*H*" and "The White Shadow."
Of course, here at "Scared Silly" we're most interested in his work as an Our Gang/Little Rascals kid. He is perhaps most famous for being smitten with teacher Miss Crabtree (the lovely June Marlowe) in a pair of shorts, "Teacher's Pet" and "School's Out." To really get on-topic here, I have to mention "Bouncing Babies," which takes place on Halloween Day and features the Gang in spooky costumes ("The Haunted Closet" blog features several great screen grabs from it) and "Moan & Groan, Inc." a bona-fide old dark house entry for the kids. "When the Wind Blows" gets an "horror-onable mention" for its brief scare moments as well.
Here's a clip of Jackie and the gang coming face-to-face with a gorilla from the public domain short, "Bear Shooters" (mislabeled as "Bear Hunters" by whoever posted this YouTube clip, but that happens sometimes). Jackie's the kid sliding the bear trap across the ground starting at approximately 2:20. Thanks for all the memories, Jackie!