Jackie Cooper, the former child movie star who received a best actor Oscar nomination at the age of 9 for Skippy and grew up to play the Daily Planet editor in Christopher Reeves' four Superman movies, died Tuesday (May 3, 2011) of old age at a nursing facility in Santa Monica, Calif., said his son, John Cooper. Mr. Cooper was 88.
"He was a fascinating guy who really did everything, from all different aspects of the business," said his other son, Russell Cooper.
Mr. Cooper reigned with Shirley Temple as one of the most popular child stars of the 1930s. Starting in comedy shorts, he rose to the top ranks with Skippy, a sentimental adaptation of a popular comic strip. He followed with such hits as The Champ, The Bowery, Treasure Island and O'Shaughnessy's Boy.
With his career fading after World War II, Mr. Cooper left Hollywood for the New York theater world. He returned to Hollywood and starred in two successful situation comedies, The People's Choice (1955-58) and Hennessey (1959-62).
He went on to direct more than 250 half-hour and hour-long TV series episodes, 16 two-hour movies and numerous pilots and commercials.
Mr. Cooper, born John Cooper Jr. on Sept. 15, 1922, in Los Angeles, remained by far the youngest actor to be nominated for an Academy Award as best actor. (There were no supporting actor or actress categories — where most child performers have been nominated — at that time.)
Mr. Cooper was married three times. He is survived by his two sons.