Perry White Superman
May 5, 2011 by Post Team
Perry White Superman, Most of the public may know Jackie Cooper as Perry White in four Superman movies. Or for her role in 1931? S of the Champ. Or for an appearance on Skippy, who became the first child actor to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. But for me, the actor – who died on Tuesday aged 88 after a brief illness – will always be known as Our Gang’s Jackie.
Maybe it was because I was an old soul, or my parents enjoyed catching repeats of the series when they were young, but grew up in Our Gang, also known as The Little Rascals. Unlike my childhood world, where most of the movies and television shows featured children achieve great victories which meant fame and fortune, Our Gang is one of the few series in history that children were also, children. Each short followed by a mischievous band plan to pursue some kind of annoying – and while many are familiar with Spanky and Alfalfa’s antics, I will always insist that gangs Jackie Cooper was by far the best of gangs. It featured the wise-beyond his-years hinder, frivolous, but-cute-as-a-button Dorothy, he is-is-possible-to-be-you-teddy Wheezer, and the funny-as Chris-Farley-Chubby, but Jackie, as everyboy the series from 1929-1931 (Spanky Spanky was before), stood out leagues above the rest. Was relatable, adorable, and could convey emotion unlike any other villain. Just look at your pot! No wonder he was cast in the role – how could anyone say no to Jackie’s face?
It was not long before five years old I developed a little in love with Jackie Cooper. Why I cannot be as pretty as Miss Crabtree? Being able to play alongside him as Mary Ann? Why could not have been born 60 years earlier? I sat in front of my TV at the weekend and pop in my VHS Our Gang and see the love of business three times in a row (they were short, after all) just to see Jackie lead his rogue troops. It was more than a few cheeks, was, in my eyes, a mini-movie star, even before it really became one.
And oddly enough, even after aging over a dozen years, I realized I still enjoyed the years of Our Gang’s Jackie. While certainly outdated – if you check out movies like The puppies are puppies, you can find a lot of racial overtones typical of early 20th century, although the series was respected in his time as one of the most diverse projects in Hollywood – the series, happy nature, despite difficult times of the Depression, was contagious. Even at 20 something, I wanted to play with Jackie, Chubby, and cramping. And it was easy to say that Cooper was on his way to stardom – his delivery and facial expressions, especially in a memorable love scene of business in which flirts with the very old Miss Crabtree, were much more mature than what we have seen any child stars of his time, much less his fellow Rascals. He just had that many covet: His presence took over the small screen, Our Gang rule is of poor quality connections, Shakey, black and white. Therefore, it was no surprise to learn as a child who had been nominated for an Academy Award. That he had participated frequently on screen partner Wallace Beery in a film that still has the chops today, the champion. And as an adult, he managed to bag a franchise, Superman, before they were as fashionable as they are today.
Cooper keeps his finger on the pulse of Hollywood soon after his success as a child actor – not just land the role of Superman, but he also developed a respectable career behind the camera, directing episodes of M * A * S * H and The White Shadow. (He even picked up an Emmy for his directing credits.) Then retired at the end of 1980, continued to work, Superboy episodes rule. But even 80 years after lighting the screen for the first time in our squad, the lives of Cooper legacy. And it must continue to do so – if you have not already done so, go to Amazon or the nearest video store to pick up a DVD Teacher’s Pet for their children. Like children who have been me, I promise you will thank his, and become an instant fan of the young Jackie Cooper. You may be gone, Jackie, but always be a part of my crew.
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