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Jackie Coogan Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (4) | Trivia (28) | Personal Quotes (3) | Salary (2)

Overview (4)

Born in Los Angeles, California, USA
Died in Santa Monica, California, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameJohn Leslie Coogan
Height 5' 7" (1.7 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Jackie Coogan was born into a family of vaudevillians where his father was a dancer and his mother had been a child star. On the stage by four, Jackie was touring at the age of five with his family in Los Angeles, California.

While performing on the stage, he was spotted by Charles Chaplin, who then and there planned a movie in which he and Jackie would star. To test Jackie, Chaplin first gave him a small part in A Day's Pleasure (1919), which proved that he had a screen presence. The movie that Chaplin planned that day was The Kid (1921), where the Tramp would raise Jackie and then lose him. The movie was very successful and Jackie would play a child in a number of movies and tour with his father on the stage.

By 1923, when he made Daddy (1923), he was one of the highest paid stars in Hollywood. He would leave First National for MGM where they put him into Long Live the King (1923). By 1927, at the age of 13, Coogan had grown up on the screen and his career was starting to go through a downturn. His popular film career would end with the classic tales of Tom Sawyer (1930) and Huckleberry Finn (1931).

In 1935, his father died and his mother married Arthur Bernstein, who was his business manager. When he wanted the money that he made as a child star in the 1920s, his mother and stepfather refused his request and Jackie filed suit for the approximately $4 million that he had made. Under California law at the time, he had no rights to the money he made as a child, and he was awarded only $126,000 in 1939. Because of the public uproar, the California Legislature passed the Child Actors Bill, also known as the Coogan Act, which would set up a trust fund for any child actor and protect his earnings.

In 1937, Jackie married Betty Grable and the marriage lasted for three years. During World War II, he would serve in the army and return to Hollywood after the war. Unable to restart his career, he worked in B-movies, mostly in bit parts and usually playing the heavy. It was in the 1950s that he started appearing on television and he acted in as many shows as he could. By the 1960s, he would be in two completely different television series, but both were comedies. The first one was McKeever & the Colonel (1962), where he played Sgt. Barnes in a military school from 1962 to 1963. The second series was the classic The Addams Family (1964), where he played Uncle Fester opposite Gomez and Morticia from 1964 to 1966. After that, he would continue making appearances on a number of television shows and a handful of movies. He died of a heart attack in 1984.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Spouse (4)

Dorothea Odetta Hanson (April 1952 - 1 March 1984) (his death) (2 children)
Ann McCormack (26 December 1946 - 19 September 1951) (divorced) (1 child)
Flower Parry (10 August 1941 - 29 June 1943) (divorced) (1 child)
Betty Grable (20 November 1937 - 11 October 1939) (divorced)

Trivia (28)

Son of Jack Coogan Sr. and Lillian Coogan, vaudeville performers who put him on stage as part of their act when he was just 16 months old.
Older brother of Robert Coogan.
Grandfather of actor Keith Coogan.
In 1935, at age 21, he had the traumatic experience of losing his father, Jack Coogan Sr., and his best friend, actor Junior Durkin, when both were killed in an auto accident in the California mountains. Durkin died almost instantly at the scene, and Coogan Sr., who had been driving, a few hours later at a local hospital. Jackie, though badly injured, was the sole survivor of the accident. He would later call it the single saddest day of his life.
Although he eventually reconciled with his mother and stepfather after the lawsuit over his earnings, things were never the same, and his advice to future child stars was "stay away from mothers."
Always considered his proudest moment his 1972 reunion with Charles Chaplin. After two decades of exile from the United States, Chaplin returned in March of that year to receive the Handel Medallion in New York City and a special lifetime achievement Oscar in Hollywood. Coogan was one of several people on hand to greet Chaplin when he arrived at Los Angeles International Airport. After greeting the other members of the party with perfunctory handshakes, Chaplin, immediately recognized Coogan (whom he hadn't seen in decades), warmly embraced him, saying, "You know, I think I would rather see you than anybody else." Chaplin later told Coogan's wife, "You must never forget that your husband is a genius.".
When he was cast as Uncle Fester on The Addams Family (1964), Coogan was 50 years old and nearly broke. After the series ended in 1966, he never lacked work again, with numerous television and film appearances.
His contract with Metro earned him $1 million per year. After money problems with his parents, he helped to organize and get passed in law the Coogan Bill, which protected child actors from such abuse in the future.
Biography in "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald L. Smith, pp. 116. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387.
He was engaged to stunning actress Toby Wing in 1935. When approached for autographs while dating her he would often write inscriptions backward to impress her, more or less confusing the autograph seeker. They eventually broke up over differences in their temperaments, just adding to 1935 being probably the single worst year of his life given his father's death and mother's refusal to pay out his childhood earnings.
During his service in the US Army, in March 1944, he served in the China-Burma-India Theater as the pilot of a CG-4A Waco (a wood-and-canvas transport glider).
Biography in "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives., Volume One, 1981-1985," pp. 174-176. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998.
Was engaged to starlet Toby Wing during much of 1935. The two broke up when Coogan went into a depression complicated by alcohol abuse after discovering his mother and stepfather squandered his childhood fortune.
In The Addams Family (1992), a hardware shop was named "Coogan's" in his honor.
Interviewed in "Talking to the Piano Player: Silent Film Stars, Writers and Directors Remember" by Stuart Oderman (BearManor Media).
Ex-stepfather of Don Stroud.
Uncle of Jonathan Coogan.
College friend of kidnapping/murder victim Brooke Hart. It was reported that Coogan participated in the notorious lynching of Hart's killers.
Has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1654 Vine St.
Producer Sol Lesser admitted that the original master of Coogan's 1922 Oliver Twist (1922) was burned for its silver nitrate content--which was worth $80.
Coogan worked to raise $1,000,000 for Armenians and Greeks displaced during World War I, working with Near East Relief. He toured across the US and Europe in 1924 on a "Children's Crusade" as part of a fund-raising drive, which ended up providing more than $1,000,000 in clothing, food, and other contributions (worth more than $13 million adjusted for 2012 dollars). Coogan was honored by officials in the US, Greece, and Rome, where he met with Pope Pius XI.
During the mid-'30s he led a 17-piece orchestra on a tour of one-night stands. He claimed to have earned $12,000 a week.
His parents, Lillian and John Coogan were seasoned career vaudevillians who first presented Jackie to stage audiences at 16 months.
His 1920s contract with MGM earned him $500,000 plus 60% of the gross titles of such films as Tom Sawyer (1917) and Little Robinson Crusoe (1924).
Estimates vary but during his eight-year run of success, Coogan earned somewhere between $4 million-$8 million.
Olympic medalist Duke Kahanamoku was his swimming instructor.
Coogan enlisted in the Army in March 1941. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he requested a transfer to the US Army Air Force as a glider pilot because of his civilian flying experience. After graduating from glider school, he was made a flight officer and volunteered for hazardous duty with the 1st Air Commando Group. In December 1943 the unit was sent to India, where he flew British troops and landed them at night 100 miles behind enemy lines in Burma on March 5, 1944,.
He starred in "Forever Ernest," a 1930s radio show, but it was canceled.

Personal Quotes (3)

Hollywood is a lovely place to get knifed in. Today's stars are deadheads compared to the Doug Fairbanks, Errol Flynns, and Clark Gables of my day. Whatever happened to the strong leading man with no hang-ups? And today's child stars? I don't see the ability of any of these kids to carry a picture by themselves... I think their ability lasts as long as a commercial; on, off, hey, wasn't he cute?
I drank milk from my own ranch. I had a 65' by 80' room filled with toy trains and my own golf course and football field in my backyard. Other boys went to see Babe Ruth. Babe Ruth came to see me.
[Asked about what gratified him most after a long life] he thing I am proudest of is that I've never been beaten at Scrabble."

Salary (2)

The Kid (1921) $75 per week
Peck's Bad Boy (1921) $2,000 a week

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