The late actor and director Jackie Cooper was the first child actor to receive an Academy Award nomination for the film Skippy when he was nine years old. As rare as that feat was, successfully transitioning to an acting career as an adult and sustaining it for decades is actually more impressive.
Cooper died Tuesday, May 3, 2011, at the age of 88.
“Roddy McDowall called him the ‘best child actor ever,’” noted film historian Leonard Maltin wrote. “He started working at the age of 3, earned an Oscar nomination at 10 for his remarkable performance opposite Wallace Beery in The Champ, became a major star, and even survived the ‘awkward age’ that many child actors go through. In fact, he never stopped working.”
His acting work ranged from parts in a number of the Our Gang comedies to playing Perry White opposite Christopher Reeve's Clark Kent and Superman, and he also won two Emmy Awards as a director, first for MASH in 1974 and then for The White Shadow in 1979.