Who's The Boss? Little Jackie Cooper, That's Who!
Do you find these behind-the-scenes shots from The Bowery as peculiar as we do? Yes, that’s former Our Gang-er Jackie Cooper, and it looks as though he’s flexing his big-star muscle upon this hapless group of toadies as they wait out a break on the Fox lot. The one reading the newspaper seems unaware of Jackie’s fierce gaze in her direction. Shouldn’t she be shining his shoes or something? And is that a nurse’s uniform she’s wearing? Maybe her job is to draw Jackie’s bath --- at a precise temperature, lest he be discomfited. What’s he pointing at? Has the woman in the smart white outfit made an error on the crossword? Even if she didn’t, do you think she’ll argue when Jackie corrects her? This gal really looks beaten down. Notice how her expression is unchanged from one shot to the next? Maybe she’s reminding herself that a job's a job after all, and there is a depression going on outside that soundstage. Do you suppose this is actually his mother? Okay, I just checked Jackie’s auto-bio (it’s great, by the way), and that is his mother. Man, that just made this whole thing a lot creepier. Just look at that poor woman’s face. Maybe she used to give the orders, but not any more! I’ll bet Jackie would still dispute her crossword judgment, even if he knew she was right. Yep, the tables have definitely turned. Oh, let’s not forget the lady in the back --- out of the line of fire, we presume. We’re guessing that’s Grandma with her knitting. She may be getting on in years, but she’ll hop to quick enough if Jackie suddenly decides he needs an ice-cream cone. Ah well, maybe we're just too cynical. For all we know, Jackie was a sweet, unspoiled child, not some pint-sized Caligula like Baby Jane Hudson in the opening scenes of Whatever Happened To... . But there is something about those sad grown-up expressions that make you want to rescue them from their stern little taskmaster!