Jackie Cooper (September 15, 1922 – May 3, 2011) was an American actor, television director, producer and executive. He was a child actor who managed to make the transition to an adult career. Cooper was the first child actor to receive an Academy Award nomination. At age 9, he was also the youngest performer to have been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role—an honor that he received for the film Skippy (1931). For nearly 50 years, Cooper remained the youngest Oscar nominee in any category, until he was surpassed by Justin Henry's nomination, at age 8, in the Supporting Actor category for Kramer vs. Kramer (1979).
Cooper was born John Cooper, Jr., in Los Angeles, California. Cooper's father, John Cooper, left the family when Jackie was two years old. His mother, Mabel Leonard Bigelow (née Polito), was a stage pianist and former child actress. Cooper's maternal uncle, Jack Leonard, was a screenwriter, and his maternal aunt, Julie Leonard, was an actress married to director Norman Taurog. Cooper's stepfather was C.J. Bigelow, a studio production manager. His mother was Italian American (her family's surname was changed from "Polito" to "Leonard"); Cooper was told by his family that his father was Jewish (the two never reunited after he had left the family).
Cooper first appeared in films as an extra with his grandmother, who would bring him along in hopes of aiding her own attempts to get extra work. At age three, Jackie appeared in Lloyd Hamilton comedies under the name of "Leonard".