Jackie Coogan preferred playing Uncle Fester to ''The Kid'' alongside Charlie Chaplin

Credited as the first-ever child star, Coogan turned 50 on The Addams Family, his favorite role in his long career.

When Uncle Fester fires a cannon that ends up wrecking The Addams Family's plumbing, it infuriates the insurance company that's sick of paying out to these oddballs. The twist in the episode finds Uncle Fester going to work for the insurance company as a salesman, and high jinks ensue from there.

For actor Jackie Coogan, playing Uncle Fester was so much fun, sometimes he left the studio without removing his makeup. He wanted to spend a little more time as the explosively funny brother of Gomez Addams. A cycling enthusiast, Coogan rode his bike to set. So that means often in 1965, California motorists got a glimpse of Uncle Fester pedaling home.

"Ask anyone — public adoration is the greatest thing in the world," Coogan told columnist Allen Garvin in 1965.

He had just turned 50 on The Addams Family, and he was the subject of many profiles in 1964–65, because Coogan stands out in Hollywood history as the first great child star.

The story goes that Coogan's parents plopped their son into his first movie at 16 months old, and by the time he was four, he'd been a vaudeville performer for two years. That's when Charlie Chaplin caught young Coogan in a performance and saw a star in the four-year-old. He just needed a cap.

Chaplin cast Coogan as a rapscallion escaping Chaplin as a cop on a beat in The Kid. Suddenly, Coogan wasn't just famous; he was essentially the first celebrity franchise.

"We pioneered the commercial tie-up market," Coogan told the Associated Press in 1964. "At one time, my name was on 50 or 60 different items, from dolls to pencil boxes. Peck and Peck paid us $100,000 per year to put out a Jackie Coogan line of clothes. Millions and millions of caps were sold."

Still, even after doing 125 movies and 750 TV roles, Coogan said playing Uncle Fester was the best time he ever had.

"Fester has a lot going for him," Coogan told the UPI in 1965. "He's 120 volt AC and DC, and he's great with dynamite. His only trouble is that he's one of the great losers of our time. He would make a great spy, but he kinda stands out in a crowd."

Coogan liked playing Uncle Fester, perhaps because it made him feel like "The Kid" again, a wide-eyed man-child who acted on impulse and knew how to make kids laugh.

"Fester appeals to youngsters because he thinks like they do," Coogan said. "Every time he suggests, 'Let’s shoot 'em in the back,' the kids share his straightforward approach to the situation."

Even though Coogan considered Fester his favorite role, he did not completely understand why TV fans went so crazy for the character.

"Fester never talked in the Addams family cartoons," Coogan said. "So I raised my voice an octave and gave him a beetling look. He's my kind of people. He's an irascible old goat, and I can't honestly say why everyone loves him."

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KMikeK 23 months ago
Uncle Fester was not Gomez Addam's brother. Uncle fester was Morticia's uncle. He's a Frump, not an Addams
figoha7883 35 months ago
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Claire 35 months ago
I thought baby Peggy was the first child star 💫
Pacificsun 36 months ago
I always got the names Jackie Coogan and Jackie Cooper mixed up. Wasn't Cooper a child actor too?
TheSentinel Pacificsun 36 months ago
Yep, he was one of the early stars of Our Gang/The Little Rascals, decades before he became Perry White in the Superman movies.
TheSentinel 35 months ago
Perry White was played by another actor. His real name and that of Inspector Henderson escapes me right now, and the cable is out, so I can't ask Alexa.
TheSentinel Pilaf 35 months ago
Actually, no, it really was Jackie Cooper who played Perry White in the Superman movies, starting with the first one in 1978.
Big3Fan 36 months ago
One of my favorite Chaplin films. Jackie was great as the kid.
Rick 36 months ago
"Chaplin cast Coogan as a rapscallion escaping Chaplin as a cop on a beat in The Kid."

That's not correct. As vinman63 notes in the comment below, Chaplin was Coogan's foundling son. They were both working together to steer clear of cops while Chaplin plied his semi-scam skills as a glass window repairman.
Dario Rick 36 months ago
Exactly. Who are those writers at MeTV who come up with these brain flatulences?!? 😐😐😐😐😐
vinman63 36 months ago
Not to shabby to have bedded Betty Gable.
harlow1313 vinman63 36 months ago
I think you mean Betty Rubble.
vinman63 harlow1313 36 months ago
i meant to say Betty Grable
harlow1313 vinman63 36 months ago
Well, she's no Betty Rubble.
vinman63 harlow1313 36 months ago
yeah Betty was a looker compared to Wilma.
Pacificsun harlow1313 36 months ago
How about Betty Grable?
Pacificsun vinman63 36 months ago
I put the wiki link down below.
justjeff 36 months ago
"The Kid" is 100 years old this year! Hey, MeTV writers... Here's the plot sypnosis from Wikipedia...

"An unmarried mother leaves a charity hospital with her newborn son; a short scene shows that the baby's apparent artist father has lost interest in her. With much anguish the Mother abandons the child, placing him in an expensive automobile with the handwritten note, "Please love and care for this orphan child". Two thieves steal the car and leave the baby in an alley, where he is found by The Tramp. After some attempts to hand the child on to various passers-by, he finds the note and his heart melts. He takes the boy home, names him John and adjusts his household furniture for him. Meanwhile, the Mother has a change of heart and returns for her baby but she learns that the car has been stolen and faints.

Five years pass. The Kid and the Tramp live in the same tiny room; they have little money but much love. They support themselves in a minor scheme: the Kid throws stones to break windows so that the Tramp, working as a glazier, can earn money repairing them. Meanwhile, the Mother has become a wealthy actress and does charity by giving presents to poor children. By chance, as she does so, the Mother and the Kid unknowingly cross paths.

The Kid later gets into a fight with another local boy as people in the area gather to watch the spectacle. The Kid wins, drawing the ire of the other boy's older brother, who attacks the Tramp as a result. The Mother breaks up the fight, but it starts again after she leaves and the Tramp keeps beating the "Big Brother" over the head with a brick between swings until he totters away.

Shortly afterward, the Mother advises the Tramp to call a doctor after the Kid falls ill. The doctor discovers that the Tramp is not the Kid's father and notifies authorities. Two men come to take the boy to an orphanage, but after a fight and a chase, the Tramp and the boy remain side by side. When the Mother comes back to see how the boy is doing she encounters the doctor, who shows her the note (which he had taken from the Tramp); she recognizes it as the one she left with her baby years ago.

Now fugitives, the Tramp and the boy spend the night in a flophouse. Its proprietor learns of a $1,000 reward offered by the authorities and takes the Kid to the police station, while the Tramp is asleep. As the tearful Mother is reunited with her long-lost child, the Tramp searches frantically for the missing boy. Unsuccessful, he returns to the doorway of their humble lodgings, where he falls asleep, entering a "Dreamland" where his neighbors have turned into angels and devils. A policeman awakes him and drives him off to a mansion. There the door is opened by the Mother and the Kid, who jumps into the Tramp's arms, and he is welcomed in."
justjeff 36 months ago
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Pacificsun justjeff 36 months ago
I thought "I" wrote complicated stuff, but wow.
justjeff Pacificsun 36 months ago
I didn't write it. Wikipedia did... I just cut-and-pasted it...
Pacificsun justjeff 36 months ago
Oh I know, and Full Disclosure to you. 😉
What I meant is that I get just as involved going out to resources get info too, and then posting it here.
Gosh, I hope nobody is thinking we're writing all that stuff ourselves 😉
I do try to give "credit" and "source links" to validate my stuff.
But then we ran a blog channel and got into the habit of NOT stealing stuff! Yikes!
justjeff Pacificsun 36 months ago
It's not stealing if you give attribution (as I do). It's only stealing when people appropriate things as their own... for example, how images are lifted from personal websites and used in commercial ads without permission, clearance or royalties...
justjeff 36 months ago
The MeTV writers were (as usual) asleep at the switch when writing this piece. Chaplin was *not* "a cop on a beat" in "The Kid"... he was his famous "tramp" character, and tried to protect "the kid" from the officers of the law who wanted to exert their custody and control over him (Coogan).

The dang film's in the public domain, so they should just watch it on YouTube before making up their own plotline...
Michael 36 months ago
What about his famous grandson, Keith Coogan? Not only was he in "Adventures in Babysitting", but he was in 18 episodes of the Waltons, playing Rose's grandson Jeffrey. A METV reference.

He actually has a long list of roles.
sputnik_57 36 months ago
His parents blew all the money he made before he was grown. Since 1939 there has been a law: "The California Child Actor's Bill (also known as Coogan Act or Coogan Bill) is a law applicable to child performers, designed to safeguard a portion of their earnings for when they reach the age of majority, and protect them from exploitation and abuse." (Wikipedia)
To me, he was sort of Crowley meets Curly...mostly the latter...
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vinman63 MrsPhilHarris 36 months ago
Probably a contrast that Uncle Fester was supposed to be Satanic but he was more a Curly.
MrsPhilHarris vinman63 36 months ago
Oh I see. Thanks.
Pacificsun vinman63 36 months ago
Thank you, I was beginning the need a program in order to follow all of this.
But didn't want to get caught asking a dumb question.

vinman63 Pacificsun 36 months ago
As the cliche says only dumb question is the one not said.
Deleted 36 months ago
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vinman63 36 months ago
on the sitcom they never explain if grandmama was fester mother or sister-in-law
vinman63 36 months ago
She did teach kintergarden.
TheSentinel 36 months ago
Gomez and Fester were made into brothers in the Addams Family movies, though, so that's where the MeTV writers may have gotten their reference from.
SalIanni 34 months ago
I don't find it that hard to believe that Gomez and Fester are brothers. I can picture them now as children when Gomez would try to get Fester to believe that they were distant relatives of the famed author Charles Dickens. When they were in school, Gomez would say to their friends, "I'm Dickens, He's Fester!"
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