It is not often that you can spend the day with a Hollywood legend; however, I did when I worked on a day long shoot with Jackie Cooper. At the time I was a Lieutenant Commander in the Naval Reserve and supported the Public Affairs Office at Commander, Naval Surface Forces, U. S. Pacific Fleet in San Diego. I was the writer and producer for our video magazine "The Force Is You." We had finished shooting the segments and needed "On-Air" talent to tie the segments together. The PAO Officer suggested Captain Jaskie Cooper and after making some calls told the Director and myself that CHINFO Office in Hollywood had cleared it. We found the new Amphibious Ship USS PELILIU, an LHA, in Long Beach and made arrangements to meet Captian Cooper there. His only requirements was that we put the script on cue cards.
Two weeks later we put our equipment in our truck and headed to Long Beach. We arrived and proceeded to the location on board ship for our first scene. Just as we finished we heard of the ship's 1MC, "Captain, U. S. Navy Arriving." I headed to the quarterdeck and met the Captain. He looked just like all the pictures, TV and Movies I had ever seen him in except he was in his uniform. We shot each scene about three times and by the third shot he had memorized the cue cards and that usually became our best shoot. We had brought two sets of equipment so that when one scene was being shot we were setting up the other. After all we had Jackie Cooper for the day and we had to get everything done then. No Retakes.
While waiting to shot a scene we would brief him on what the segment he was introducing and answered his questions. He would tell us stories about the old Hollywood and some of the people had known such as Judy Garland, Joan Crawford, and Rita Hayworth. Needless to say they bordered on the baudy.
I even got to direct him in a scene and to say he was a quick study is an understatement. Our use of the two sets of equipment so that he literally walked from one shot to the next impressed him and he paid us the compliment of being one of the best crews he had worked with.'
The day was over too fast, but the time with Captain Cooper was priceless. Captain, May God grant you fair winds and following seas into eternity.
John A. Jacobsen CAPT USNR(Ret)
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