Jackie Coogan, the first major child star in films, was born in Los Angeles on 26 Oct. 1914 (some sources give 24th). Both of his parents were in vaudeville and he made his theatrical debut at the age of two, when he followed his father onto the stage and stopped the show. He had already appeared in his first film at 18 months (Skinner's Baby, 1916) when Charlie Chaplin saw him at the Orpheum in Los Angeles in 1919 and conceived the idea for his film The Kid of the little tramp with the waif-like child. Chaplin made the film in 1920, paying Coogan $75 per week plus a bonus of $5,000 (little of which the child ever saw). The film premiered in New York on 21 Jan. 1921.
Coogan later played the obvious child film roles such as Oliver Twist (1922), Tom Sawyer (1930) & Huckleberry Finn (1931), but as he grew older the parts offered him grew fewer. In 1966 he estimated that he had appeared in 135 films (including 35 silents) & 850 TV programmes (including 65 episodes of The Addams Family, as Uncle Fester, 1964-66).
During WW2 he was a pilot officer in the USAAF and decorated with the DFC. Four times married he had two sons & two daughters. He died in Santa Monica on 1 March 1984, aged 69.
In May/June 1925 Jackie Coogan recorded eight unaccompanied monologues and then in 1928, while appearing at the London Palladium (19 Nov. - 8 Dec.) in a song, dance & jokes act he recorded for HMV a sketch from the show as detailed below.
See the biography by Diana Serra Cary Jackie Coogan: The World's Boy King (2003), especially pp. 18, 118-120. The silent film The Kid is available on DVD.
Jackie Coogan Sketch in two parts from his London Palladium show accompanied by his father, Carroll Gibbons (piano), violin & an unidentified female. Rec. Hayes, Middlesex, 5 Dec. 1928 (matrices Bb15236-3/237-3).
This page last modified on Saturday, July 07, 2007
Copyright ę 2013 The Boy Choir & Soloist Directory