Jackie Cooper, who became a child star during the Depression and thrived as an adult working both behind and in front of the camera on television and in film, has died, reports The New York Times. He was 88.
Cooper won two Emmys for directing, for the series "M*A*S*H" in 1974 and for the pilot for "The White Shadow" in 1979. He also directed episodes of "Quincy," "The Rockford Files" and other TV shows.
Cooper started in show business at 3 years old when his grandmother dragged him to the studio gates for a chance to earn $2 as an extra. He acted in 15 "Our Gang" comedies, including "School’s Out" and "Teacher’s Pet" in 1930.
The following year, when he was 9, he starred in "Skippy," a Paramount film about a boy and his dog, which was directed by his uncle, the story says. His uncle, Norman Taurog, got Cooper to cry by having his dog dragged off the set and simulating shooting the animal, the piece notes. "Please Don’t Shoot My Dog" became the title of Cooper’s 1981 best-selling memoir. For his work in the film, he became the youngest Oscar nominee for best actor, a record that still stands, the story says.
As an adult, Cooper got involved in television, appearing on shows such as "The United States Steel Hour" and starring from 1955 to 1958 in "The People’s Choice," in which he played a politician with a basset hound that thinks funny thoughts, the story says.
He starred as Navy doctor Lt. Charles “Chick” Hennesey from 1959-1962 in “Hennesey,” a role that dovetailed with his active peacetime involvement with the Navy after his service during World War II. He eventually achieved the rank of captain in the Navy.
Cooper became a production executive for Screen Gems, the TV unit of Columbia Pictures, from 1964 to 1969, working on sitcoms such as "Bewitched" and "The Donna Reed Show."