Jackie Cooper, the first child actor to receive an Academy Award nomination and the gruff editor in the four Christopher Reeve 'Superman' films, has died at age 88.

Cooper died Tuesday at a convalescent home in Santa Monica. "He just kinda died of old age," his attorney, Roger Licht, told Reuters. "He wore out."

Thanks to the Hal Roach 'Our Gang' comedies, the actor was the most widely recognized child star of the early 1930s and so popular he was known as "America's Boy."

Cooper acted in 15 'Our Gang' short films between 1929 and 1931 before his uncle, director Norman Taurog, cast him in the title role in 'Skippy.' Cooper received his first Oscar nomination for the role at age 9 and is still the youngest performer to be nominated for Best Actor.

He went on to star opposite Wallace Berry in three films, the most famous being 'The Champ' (1931) and 'Treasure Island' (1934).

As he grew older, he found parts harder to come by and, after a wartime stint in the Navy, eventually left Hollywood for Broadway.

While in New York, he worked in live TV as actor, producer and director of 'The People's Choice,' in which he played a city councilman with a talking basset hound, and 'Hennesey,' as a naval medical officer.

In the 1960s, he transitioned behind the scenes to serve as vice president of program development at Columbia Pictures Television. He began to direct episodic TV, wining Emmys for his work on 'M*A*S*H' and 'The White Shadow.'

He returned to the big screen in 1978 as Perry White, editor of the Daily Planet, in 'Superman,' a role he reprised in the three sequels.

He retired from showbiz in 1989, saying, "I'm 67 and worked 64 years." Soured by his experiences as a child actor, Cooper discouraged his four children from acting.

[via The Hollywood Reporter]
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