Jackie Cooper

  1. Shirley Temple, Little Miss Marker, 1933.      The canny Paramount suits wanted to gender-bend Miss Marker into the 11-year-old from The Champ, 1931. Finally, Fox agreed to loan Temple, aged five – for this first of four movies based on the Damon Runyon tale
  2. Freddie Bartholomew, The Personal History Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield, The Younger, 1935.    MGM’s head lion, LB Mayer,  wasn’t keen on the Dickens project – unless Cooper, his kid star from The Champ, was David. No, cried LB’s  son-in-law, producer David O Selznick, this David must be British! Selznick and Cukor went to London, learned all about UK child actor laws, rejected “10,000 boys”and went home empty-handed… just as Bartholomew and his aunt decided to visit  kin  in Hollywood! Result: instant, global stardom as Hollywood’s highest paid kiddy.At $2,500 a week.
  3. Riley Hall, Flying Cadets, 1940.        Universal scrapped plan to have ex-kid stars Cooper and Freddie Bartholomew being taught to to fly. Instead, they became Two Bright Boys… while Hall and Frankie Thomas took over the joystick.
  4. Jimmy Lydon, Henry Aldrich For President, 1941.      The working title of Henry and Dizzy highlighted certain changes to the third Henry Aldrich tale. Their performers, adjudged Paramount, had become too old. Cooper, at 19, was replaced as Henry, likewise Eddie Bracken, 26, as Dizzy Stevens.   Lydon was 18… and lasted five more movies until reaching 21.
  5. Peter Lawford,  Good News, 1946.      For his first MGMusical after dance-directing many, ex-actor-dancer Charles Walters had the pick of the lot’s 20-somethings for June Allyson’s partner… Cooper, Van Johnson, even Mickey Rooney. Lawford was all wrong! His accent was too UK for a US college kid. He couildn’t sing, dance or act. Walters went on to better things: Easter Parade, Lili, High Society, etc.
  6. Ray McDonald, Good News, 1947.    Cooper tested for a role in February… well, he was 24 by now.
  7. Van Johnson, Remains To Be Seen, 1952.   The Champ’s kid was now 30… an according to such illustrious publications as Hollywood Reporter and MGM News, Cooper and Allyson were first chosen to head the 88 minute… er, musical cmedy murder thriller.
  8. Kurt Russell, The Fox and the Hound, 1980.      Copper was nearly Cooper. Final winner of the voicing gig was Russell – like Cooper, an ex-kid star. Walt Disney gave him a ten year contract in 1960…at age nine. First toon that future icons, Tim Burton and John (Pixar) Lasseter worked on in their Disney years.

 Birth year: 1922Death year: 2011Other name: Casting Calls:  8