The Untold Story of Jackie Coogan’s Lost Millions

Jackie Coogan was one of the most beloved child stars of the early 20th century. He captivated audiences with his cherubic face, infectious smile, and natural acting talent. However, behind the scenes, his life was anything but idyllic. Despite earning a fortune at a young age, he was left penniless by his mother and stepfather, and had to fight for years to regain control of his earnings.

Early Life and Career

Jackie Coogan was born on October 26, 1914, in Los Angeles, California. His father, Jack Coogan Sr., was a vaudeville performer and actor, and his mother, Lillian Coogan, was a dancer. Jackie grew up in the entertainment industry, accompanying his parents on tour and even appearing in a few films as a baby.

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Jackie Does His Stuff in Ancient Coliseum. Rome, Italy: Jackie Coogan, on his trip around the world, drops in at the ancient coliseum in Rome, and does a little stunt. Note a little Italian boy trying to emulate him in the foreground.

It wasn’t until he was six years old, however, that Jackie got his big break. In 1921, he was cast in the silent film “Skinners’ Baby,” and his performance was so charming that he quickly became a sought-after child actor. Over the next few years, he appeared in a string of successful films, including “Long Live the King” (1923), “Oliver Twist” (1922), and “The Kid” (1921), which was directed by Charlie Chaplin and is still considered one of the greatest films of all time.

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Child star Jackie Coogan (1914 – 1984) in a scene from the film ‘Circus Days’, USA, 1923.

By the age of ten, Jackie was a household name and a millionaire, thanks to his prolific film career and the fact that he had been signed to a lucrative contract by MGM. He was also a beloved public figure, known for his charity work and his infectious personality.

Betrayal and Legal Battle

However, as Jackie entered his teenage years, he began to realize that something was amiss with his finances. He had always trusted his mother and stepfather to manage his money, but he soon discovered that they had spent nearly all of it, leaving him with only a fraction of his wealth.

(Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

The Young American Actor Jackie Coogan Standing Between His Parents Lillian Dolliver And Jack Coogan Sr. (Both Actors) On The Ocean Liner Le Majestic, Between 1920 And 1922.

At the time, there were no laws protecting the earnings of child actors, and Jackie was unable to sue for the return of his lost funds. He later wrote in his autobiography, “I was a child, and I had no control over my earnings. They were stolen from me by my mother and stepfather, who were supposed to be looking out for my interests.”

The case sparked a national conversation about the exploitation of child actors and eventually led to the passage of the Coogan Act in 1939. The law required that a portion of a child actor’s earnings be placed in a trust account that they would have access to when they turned 18.

Later Career and Personal Life

Despite the financial hardships he faced as a young adult, Jackie Coogan continued to act throughout his life. He appeared in dozens of films and TV shows, including “The Addams Family” in the 1960s, and “The Twilight Zone” in the 1980s. He also continued to work as a stage actor and vaudeville performer.

Outside of his career, Jackie was known for his political activism and his advocacy for animal rights. He was a lifelong supporter of the Democratic Party and even ran for political office on several occasions. He was also a devoted animal lover and was known to rescue stray dogs and cats and bring them home with him.

(Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Jackie Coogan (1914-1984) stars with Evelyn Brent (1899-1975) in the film ‘Home on the Range’ (aka ‘Code Of The West’) at the age of 20. Title: Home on the Range AKA: Code Of The West Studio: Paramount Director: Arthur Jacobson

Jackie Coogan passed away on March 1, 1984, at the age of 69. Although his legacy as a child star was marred by the financial betrayal he suffered, he is still remembered as one of the greatest actors of his time, and a true Hollywood legend.

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Betty Grable, who received an interlocutory divorce from Jackie Coogan, is pictured enjoying herself with Artie Shaw, an orchestra leader, and her latest interest, at Hollywood’s Brown Derby.

Conclusion- At last

Jackie Coogan’s story is a cautionary tale that serves as a reminder of the importance of protecting the rights and earnings of child actors. While he achieved great success and fame at a young age, he was also taken advantage of and left without control over his finances. His fight for justice eventually led to important changes in the law, which continue to benefit child actors today.

 (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

Despite the difficulties he faced, Jackie Coogan’s talent and charisma continued to shine throughout his life, and he remained a beloved figure in the entertainment industry and beyond. His legacy serves as a testament to the enduring power of art and the importance of using that power to advocate for justice and equality.

As we continue to enjoy the performances of child actors and appreciate their contributions to the world of entertainment, it is important to remember the lessons of Jackie Coogan’s story and work to ensure that all young people are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve. Through a combination of legal protections and ongoing advocacy, we can honor Jackie’s legacy and make sure that the next generation of child actors can thrive in a safe, supportive, and equitable environment.

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