Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Name the celebrity

OK, this celebrity began as a child star on stage when he was four years old. He caught the attention of another star, Charlie Chaplin, in 1917 and got a start doing movie roles. He went on to become the youngest self-made millionaire in history, however when he tried to actually get his money after becoming an adult, his mother and manager-turned-stepfather refused to give it to him, having squandered most of it on their own high living. He brought suit against them and that suit led to the law that to this day requires that a percentage of the money earned by child actors be placed in trust for them. Alas, he still wound up with no money--they'd spent nearly all of it.

Figure it out yet?

How about if I told you that a close friend of his from college wound up being kidnapped and murdered, and when the kidnappers were caught, public outrage was such that a lynch mob stormed the jail and took the criminals out to a nearby park and hung them. This actor was identified as being one of the leaders of that mob but was never prosecuted.

Know who it is yet?

He was married to film star Betty Grable for a couple of years, and following Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps, volunteering to fly gliders and land commando teams behind Japanese lines in the dead of the night. He did this until 1944, and he also managed to get busted by the Military Police when they caught him in a cathouse in Burma.

Know who I'm talking about yet?

He returned to acting in the 50's, but his career didn't really do much despite his getting bit parts on such shows as Perry Mason, The Andy Griffith Show, The Partridge Family, The Brady Bunch, I Dream of Jeannie, Emergency!, Family Affair, The Wild, Wild West, and Hawaii Five-O.

If you haven't got it yet, maybe you'll recognize him from this clip of his first movie where he played opposite Charlie Chaplin.

Recognize him yet?

OK, that first one was a bit dated. How about a picture from his most famous role--the one that finally put him on easy street:

That's right--the man who played Uncle Fester on The Addams Family from 1964-1966 was none other than former child star Jackie Coogan and his life was a long and interesting one as he married and divorced beautiful movie stars, helped lynch the kidnappers of Brooke Hart, and volunteered for extra hazardous duty in World War Two.

He died March 1, 1984 in Santa Monica, California. He was 69.

His star on the Hollywood walk of Fame.


  1. In the words of Paul Harvey, "And now you know...the rest of the story."

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. I hope you mean he died in 1984, as I recall his death being announced, and I'm not THAT old!

  3. Good post. Fascinating man.