Jackie Cooper dies at the age of 88
Jackie Cooper was born John Cooper Jr in Los Angeles, California on 15th September 1922 to John Cooper, who deserted his family two years later, and Mabel Leonard Bigelow, a pianist and former child actress. Cooper’s connection with cinema was strong: his uncle on his mother’s side was the screenwriter Jack Leonard, while his aunt, the actress Julie Leonard was married to director Norman Taurog. Cooper’s mother re-married following his father’s departure. Her new husband was C. J. Bigelow, a studio production manager
Cooper’s first work in the cinema was as an extra – his grandmother would take him along to the studios in the hope that he would help her to win extra roles. Slowly, he graduated from being an extra to bit parts in films such as Fox Movietone Follies of 1929 and Sunny Side Up. It was his appearance in these films which led directly to his becoming a member of Hal Roach’s Our Gang after their director David Butler recommended him to Leo McCarey. His first appearance in the Our Gang films was in 1929 in the short Boxing Gloves. Initially taken on as a supporting character, he quickly rose to a leading role.