The “Coogan Act”: Hollywood’s First Child Star

A R T L▼R K

On the 26th of October 1914, Jackie Coogan was born in Los Angeles, CA. From infancy, his actor father enrolled him into roles in vaudeville and film. He was discovered by Charlie Chaplin at the Orpheum Theatre, L.A., where Jackie charmed him with his shimmy dancing and miming talent. Chaplin soon cast him in various roles, the best known of which, as the first child actor to play in a full-length movie, is the silent comedy drama The Kid (1921). Jackie played the little partner-in-crime of Chaplin’s character, a lovable tramp, who rescued him from the streets as an abandoned newborn. In the dawning era of advertising, he became one of the first children to be extensively used in screen commercials for various merchandise from peanut butter to music records.

Having been privately tutored for most of his childhood, at the age of 10, Jackie enrolled into the…

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