Most of you won’t remember the late 50s TV series The Peoples Choice starring former child star, Jackie Cooper. The sit-com, about the courtship of Socrates Miller (Cooper) and his girl friend Mandy Peoples (Pat Breslin) is a little too convoluted to describe here, but you should know that charm of the show was based on a talking basset hound named Cleo. Go here for more information on the show and here for more on Cleo. I watched the show in reruns and was young enough to believe that all basset hounds spoke English, with a Newark accent.
But that’s not the point of this post. Jackie Cooper is. He died yesterday at age 88.
He was one of those rare child stars who survived into adulthood. As a child he was best known for his roles in the 1930s “Our Gang” series and as adult he played grizzled Daily Planet editor Perry White in the 1978 Superman film and its three sequels.
He became a star in 1931 when, as a 9-year-old, he became the youngest person ever nominated for the Academy Award in a leading role as Best Actor in “Skippy.”
He also had notable roles in The Champ, playing the son of a washed-up boxer played by Wallace Beery. Their on-screen chemistry led Cooper to then co-star in The Bowery (1933) and Treasure Island (1934) alongside Beery. In addition to The Peoples Choice he starred in the TV series Hennesy, about a US Navy doctor.
So why am I telling you this? There are some public or media figures that just leave a lasting “graphic” impression. Cooper’s pug-like face did that for me. I recently saw him in an interview segment on Turner Classic Movies, and thought “ahhhh, I’m so glad he’s still alive.”