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Jackie Cooper, Former Child Star, 'Superman' Actor, Dies at 88

May 05, 2011

Jackie Cooper, who went from Oscar-nominated child star to TV executive and director while amassing scores of acting credits — including playing Perry White in the four Christopher Reeve Superman films — has died. He was 88.

Cooper died Tuesday at a convalescent home in Santa Monica. “He just kinda died of old age,” his attorney Roger Licht told Reuters. “He wore out.”

Cooper enjoyed a 60-year acting career. Before Shirley Temple won the world’s hearts, he was the most popular and widely recognized child star of the early 1930s and the first kid to shine in “talkies.” His pug nose, crinkly smile and pouty lip endeared him to a nationwide audience, first as Jackie in Hal Roach’s Our Gang comedies. Cooper was so popular, he was known as “America’s Boy.”

Born John Cooperman Jr. on Sept. 15, 1922, in Los Angeles, he broke in as a bit player in silent films. Cooper acted in 15 Our Gang shorts between 1929 and 1931 before his uncle, director Norman Taurog, cast him in the title role of Skippy, which was based on a comic strip. Cooper earned a best actor Academy Award nomination for the film — the first child actor to do so and still the youngest to receive an Oscar nom for a leading role. A sequel, Sooky, followed that year. Read More