Great Hollywood Backstories But What Happened to the Little Rascals?
Feb 9, 2010
Cooper weaves a not so glamourous memoir that begins where he has the opportunity to meet the father that abandoned him when he was born. He passes on the opportunity thus leaving mysteries of his birth and reasons for his father leaving totally a mystery. In his mind he didn't want the answers but his readers certainly do.
We learn that Cooper lived a "Michael Jackson-esque" childhood. That is he was not allowed to play with other kids as he was too valuable a commodity to get hurt playing. And he was virtually working everyday from the time he was about seven.
His mother was an entertainer who played piano in theaters where there were silent films so she was always unavailable. His grandmother became his main guardian and would take him to the movie studio every day in the hopes of getting work. If picked he could get a free lunch which the two of them would split. Those days at the gate got him noticed by Hal Roach and he was put into some of the Our Gang shorts.
He eventually made it to feature length films working a film for his uncle that thrust him into a big star. Some interesting tidbits are how mercilious the director was on occasions to make Cooper cry where scenes called for it such as pretending to kill his dog (thus the title of the book).
There is virtually nothing in the book about his Our Gang times other than saying how he loved the dog (owned by Pete so I guess they called the dog Pete) used in the filming and he was so happy one weekend where he got to take Pete home.
Cooper paints unflattering portraits of Bing Crosby who married his mother's best friend and Wallace Beery who he starred with in the movie The Champ as well as others. He is especially harsh on Beery who he said was the most unfriendly and snobbish person around.
Cooper lived a life among all the big stars of his day and was close to Judy Garland years before The Wizard of Oz. Fans of movie history will love some of the tales of these stars.
As a Little Rascals fan I was expecting some great stories of how the various kid were and was greatly disappointed. That and the unsolved mystery of Cooper's father prevented me from rating the book higher.
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