Actor. Born in Los Angeles, California, to a show business family, shortly after his birth the Coogans moved to New York City, New York and it was there that he made his first real appearance in the theater, at the age of four. At age five he began touring with his family in vaudeville shows. Charlie Chaplin who had been looking for the right child to star next to him in the movie “The Kid” was impressed and knew right away he had found the perfect child when he met him. To test him, Chaplin gave him a small role in his film “A Day’s Pleasure” (1919), which proved he had star quality. They then began filming Chaplin’s “The Kid” (1921). The movie was very successful and Jackie Coogan would play a child in a number of movies and tour with his father on the stage. His career and stardom were the most heavily promoted during the decade and by 1923, when he made "Daddy", he was one of the highest paid stars in Hollywood, earning millions for the studios which hired him, including First National, Lesser, Universal, M-G-M, and for his own production company set up by his parents, called Jackie Coogan Productions and was the youngest self-made millionaire in history. By 1927, at the age of 13, Coogan had grown up on the screen and his career was starting to wind down as he aged. He made sound versions of "Tom Sawyer" (1930) and 'Huckleberry Finn" (1931), but these movies were not as popular as his earlier films during the silent era. His personal life was deteriorating as well, his parents divorced and his mother re-married Arthur Bernstein, who was Jackie's business manager. In 1936, aged 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. Jackie Coogan, though badly injured, was the sole survivor of the accident. He would later call it the single saddest day of his life. 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 he had no rights to the money he made as a child and was eventually awarded $126,000 in 1939. The public was outraged and the California Legislature was pressured to pass the "The Child Actors Bill", also known as the "Coogan Act," which would set up a trust fund for any child actor and protect their earnings. During World War II, he would serve in the United States Army as a glider pilot and return to Hollywood after the war. Unable to restart his career, he worked in small budget movies, playing mostly bit parts. In the 1950's he started appearing on Television and by the 1960’s he was in two Television Series, "McKeever & the Colonel" where he played 'Sgt. Barnes' in a military school from 1962 to 1963 and "The Addams Family" where he played 'Uncle Fester' from 1964 to 1966 and became a classic. After that, he would continue making appearances on a number of television shows, commercials and a handful of movies until his death in Santa Monica, California. He has a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Bio by: Debbie
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