Jackie Cooper was one of the most talented child actors of the silver screen and managed the transistion from child actor to a successful adult career as a television director, producer and executive.
Jackie Cooper was born John Cooper Jr. in Los Angeles, California on September 15, 1922. His father left the family when Jackie was two years old. His mother, Mabel Leonard Bigelow was a stage pianist and former child actress. Cooper's maternal uncle, Jack Leonard, was a screenwriter, and his maternal aunt, Julie Leonard, was an actress married to director Norman Taurog. Cooper's stepfather was C. J. Bigelow, a studio production manager.
Born into a show business family, it was only natural that Cooper would make his film debut at the age of nine in the short Boxing Gloves (1929), one of the Our Gang comedies.
Jackie Cooper would go on to appear in 12 Our Gang comedies from 1929 to 1931 before the role that would catapult young Cooper into stardom.
In 1931, Jackie Cooper would play Skippy Skinner in the movie Skippy. This role would earn him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role. At the age of nine, he became the youngest actor ever to receive a Best Actor nomination, a record he still holds today.
Jackie Cooper would go on to appear in such films as The Champ (1931), The Bowery (1933), The Choices of Andy Purcell (1933), Treasure Island (1934), O'Shaughnessy's Boy (1935), Boy of the Streets (1937), Streets of New York (1939), Life with Henry (1941), and Kilroy was Here (1947).
With the invention of television, Jackie Cooper appeared in such classics as Your Show of Shows, Kraft Television Theatre, General Electric Theater, Robert Montgomery Presents, Hennesey, Dick Powell Presents, Police Story, Ironside, Kojak, Columbo, The Rockford Files, and Murder She Wrote.
Jackie Cooper's last appearance as an actor was as J. Nash Hawkins in the television series For Jenny with Love (1989).
Jackie Cooper also appeared in Superman I, Superman II, Superman III and Superman IV.
As an adult, Cooper turned his attention towards directing and producing.
He directed such shows as Cagney & Lacey, Jake and The Fatman, Magnum P.I., The Rockford Files and Mary Tyler Moore.
Jackie Cooper would earn two emmy awards for directing, one for M*A*S*H and one for The White Shadow.
His last work as a director was in 1989 directing two episodes of Simon & Simon.
During World War II, Jackie Cooper served as a Captain in the US Navy.
From 1964-1969, Jackie Cooper was vice president of program development at Columbia Pictures Screen Gems television division. He was responsbile for packaging series such as Bewitched and selling them to the networks.
In 1981 wrote an autobiographical account of his traumatic years as a child star "Please Don't Shoot My Dog." The title based on his Uncle Norman Taurog, the director, threatened to shoot his dog to make him do the crying scene on the set of Skippy (1931).
Jackie Cooper is now retired and spends his time with his wife of fifty-four years, Barbara.