Monster M*A*S*H
Jackie Cooper
Jackie Cooper.jpg
Personal Information
Gender: Male
Born: (1922-09-15)September 15, 1922
Birthplace: Los Angles, California
Died May 3, 2011(2011-05-03) (aged 88)
Death Location Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
Actor/Director/Film executive
Spouse(s): June Horne
(m. 1944-1949; divorced; 1 child)
Hildy Parks
(m. 1950-1951; divorced)
Barbara Rae Kraus
(m. 1954-2009; her death; 3 children)
Related to: Norman Taurog (uncle)
Series connection
Appeared on/Involved with: M*A*S*H
Episode appearances/
Involved with:
13 from Seasons 1-7
Jobs/Role(s): Director

John "Jackie" Cooperman Jr. (September 15, 1922 – May 3, 2011) better known as Jackie Cooper, an American actor, television director, producer and executive. He was a child actor who managed to make the transition to an adult career. Cooper was the first child actor to receive an Academy Award nomination.[1] At age 9, he was also the youngest performer to have been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role—an honor that he received for the film Skippy (1931).[2]

For nearly 50 years, Cooper remained the youngest Oscar nominee in any category, until he was surpassed by Justin Henry's nomination, at age 8, in the Supporting Actor category for Kramer vs. Kramer (1979).


Early life[]

Cooper was born John Cooper, Jr.,[3] in Los Angeles, California. Cooper's father, John Cooper, left the family when Jackie was two years old. His mother, Mabel Leonard Bigelow (née Polito), was a stage pianist. Jackie'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.[4] His mother was Italian American (her family's surname was changed from "Polito" to "Leonard"); Cooper was told by his family that his father was Jewish (the two never reunited after he left the family).[4][5][6]

Acting career[]

Young Jackie in a "Little Rascals" film short scene in the early 1930s.

Jackie made his film debut at three years old in the Lloyd Hamilton shorts. His grandmother would take him along as she looked for work as an extra, both of them getting hired for the price of one. His mother was a rehearsal pianist at Fox, and she got Jackie an audition when they wanted a young tyke to sing a song in William Fox Movietone Follies of 1929. This led to Jackie starring in "Sunny Side Up," and Hal Roach signing Jackie up as the new tough kid in Our Gang. Jackie's cousin, Joan Bernhoft, was one of the kids who played additional Munchkins in the "The Wizard Of Oz" (1937).

Directing/Film executive[]

Jackie left being a Little Rascal to star in feature films. His career flourished through the 1930s, but he left acting to join the Navy during World War II. Getting back into the business was hard work, and he perfected his craft on stage to come back as a character actor. In his career, he worked with Jackie Coogan, Judy Garland, Wallace Beery, Henry Fonda and Mickey Rooney (formerly Mickey McGuire). He directed and starred in the sitcom, The People's Choice in 1955 which lasted three years. Other TV shows came, but he started doing more and more work as a director behind the scenes.

From 1964 to 1969, Cooper was vice president of program development at Columbia Pictures Screen Gems TV division. He was responsible for packaging series (such as Bewitched) and other projects and selling them to the networks. He reportedly cast Sally Field as Gidget. Cooper acted only twice during this period, once in 1964 when he appeared in Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone episode "Caesar and Me", and again in the 1968 TV-movie Shadow on the Land. Jackie attempted to revive Our Gang with a new series of Rascals in the 1970s, but the project wasn't successful. He crossed paths with Gene Reynolds, who had been a Rascal in Washee Ironee, and gave him a chance to direct. Reynolds returned the favor years later by hiring Jackie to direct numerous episodes of the CBS-TV series "M*A*S*H."

From time to time, Jackie returned in front of the camera, playing newspaper editor Perry White in the big budget movie Superman; in 1978 and its sequels. (The third in the series starred Annabella Logan, who sang "Loch Lomond" in the Our Gang Follies Of 1938.)

Personal life[]

Jackie married twice, and had one child from his first wife, and three from his second. Extremely busy in Hollywood, he helped to present Hal Roach with his honorary Academy Award in 1984; Roach reciprocated at a Friar's Club roast to Jackie a few years afterward. Admittedly, Jackie eventually confessed to having a crush on his "Our Gang" co-star Mary Ann Jackson, a revelation she did not become aware of until 1990.


Sadly, Jackie passed away May 3, 2011; he was eighty-eight years of age.


  1. Sharon Knolle, "Former Child Star Jackie Cooper Dies at Age 88," Moviefone, last modified May 4th, 2011, URL.
  2. "Jackie Cooper," The Telegraph, last modified May 5th 2011, URL,
  3. California Birth Index, 1905–1995. Center for Health Statistics, California Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Jackie Cooper, Please Don't Shoot My Dog (New York: Berkeley, 1982), 9, 32, 40–42, 44, 54–61.
  5. Aljean Harmetz, Rolling Breaks and Other Movie Business (New York: Knopf, 1983), 103.
  6. Victorino Matus, "Jackie Cooper, USN," The Weekly Standard (blog), November 22, 2011 (12:30 p.m.), URL.

Further reading[]

  • Wise, James. Stars in Blue: Movie Actors in America's Sea Services. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1997. ISBN 1557509379

External links[]