US & Canada

Jackie Cooper: Ex-child star and Superman actor dies

Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder and Jackie Cooper in Superman
Image caption Jackie Cooper (r) appeared as Daily Planet editor Perry White, alongside Christopher Reeve (l)

Former US child star Jackie Cooper, who went on to work as a TV producer, film director and feature in four Superman movies, has died at the age of 88.

Cooper died in Santa Monica, California, on Tuesday of complications related to old age, his lawyer said.

Aged nine he became the youngest player to be nominated for an Oscar for best actor, for the 1931 film Skippy.

Late in his career he appeared as Daily Planet editor Perry White in the four Christopher Reeve Superman films.

As a child, Cooper became a familiar face to many in Hal Roach's Our Gang series of short comedy films.

He went on to star in Skippy, an adaptation of a popular comic strip.

In one scene where he was required to cry, the director, his uncle Norman Taurog, pretended to have his dog shot off-set in order to bring on the tears - a ploy that worked.

Image caption Blond-haired Cooper (r) was one of the biggest child stars of the 1930s

Although the young Cooper did not win the Academy Award for best actor, his uncle did take best director for that film.

Fifty years later, Cooper entitled his 1981 autobiography Please Don't Shoot My Dog.

He followed his success in Skippy with roles in films including The Champ, The Bowery and Treasure Island, and continued acting through his adolescence.

He served in the US Navy during World War II and returned to find his film career had waned. So he took to the stage in New York in a number of Broadway shows.

He went on to star in TV sit-oms and dramas, before turning his hand to directing and production.

His appearances as gruff Daily Planet editor Perry White in the Superman films brought him back to the big screen in the twilight of his career.

Born John Cooper in Los Angeles in 1922, he was married three times and had four children. Two sons survive him.