Frank “Junior” Coghlan, 93.
Mar. 15, 1916 – Sept. 7, 2009
Frank “Junior” Coghlan , the child star actor of silent movies died peacefully in his sleep in Saugus, CA at the age of 93. Frank moved with his parents Frank and Katherine Coghlan to California as a baby. In 1920 eventually all three family members performed extra work in silent pictures, with Frank taking the stage name “Junior Coghlan” starting at the tender age of three. By 1925, Junior managed the jump from an extra to a popular actor with his name appearing on the official cast lists. Junior quickly became one of the era’s most recognized child actors. Junior signed a five year contract with Cecil B. DeMille in 1925. When DeMille saw Junior’s publicily stills, he stated, “Junior Coghlan is the perfect example of a homeless waif.” In the following years he appeared in specially tailored movies to his talent, such as “Slide, Kelly, Slide,” “The Yankee Clipper” “Rubber Tires”, and “The Last Frontier”. His first three talkies were made at Warner Brothers in 1931. There he played with Charles Bickford in “River’s End”, co-starred as Sam in “Penrod and Sam” with Leon Janney as Penrod, and then played James Cagney as a boy in “Public Enemy”. He starred in the high school age series of comedies, “The Frolics of Youth”, for Educational Studios in 1933 and 1934 where Shirley Temple was his little sister in her first tour of these two reel comedies. He is probably best remembered as Billy Batson in the 1941Republic action serial, “Adventures of Captain Marvel” where he transformed into Captain Marvel by saying the magic catch phrase, “Shazam!”
Junior worked with many legends of Hollywood such as: Charlie Chaplin, Mickey Rooney, Shirley Temple, William Boyd, Pat O’Brien, James Cagney, and Spencer Tracy.
Later, Junior became a Naval Aviator during World War II and served 23 years on active duty. For eight of those years he was in charge of the Navy Film Cooperation Program. From 1952 to 1954, while stationed in the Pentagon, he was the liaison on such films as; “The Caine Mutiny,” “The Bridges at Toko-Ri,” and the great “Mr. Roberts”. From 1960 to 1965 he headed the Navy Hollywood office where he even had the pleasure of helping his old friend Jackie Cooper on his television series “Hennesey.”
Frank “Junior” Coghlan continued his many careers as a public relations man for the Los Angeles Zoo, and the Port of Los Angeles. He remained a commercial actor for various products and continued performing into his 90’s. Frank wrote an autobiography titled, “They Still Call Me Junior” published in 1992. In recent years Frank became popular at movie and early television conventions.
Frank will be dearly missed by his family, community, and fans. Frank a loving husband, a devoted father and grandfather. He is survived by his son Patrick & Sioux Coghlan of Saugus, CA; his daughters Cathleen & Michael Farley of Goldhill, OR., Judy Coghlan and Gordon of Seal Beach, CA., and Elizabeth & Gil Gagnon of Long Beach, CA., preceded in death by his, wife- Betty Coghlan, and their son son Michael Coghlan and his second wife Letha Coghlan. His grandchildren; Casey, Cody, Jared, Danae, Claire, and Micah.
Services will be held at Eternal Valley Mortuary on Monday, September 14, 2009 at 10:00am. Burial to follow at All Souls Catholic Cemetery in Long Beach .CA.
COGHLAN Jr., Frank
Born: 3/15/1916, New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.A.
Died: 9/7/2006, Saugus, California, U.S.A
Frank Coghlan's westerns - actor:
Whispering Smith - 1926
The Last Frontier - 1926 (Buddy)
River's End - 1930 (Mickey O'Toole)
The Last of the Mohicans - 1932 (Uncas)
Drum Taps - 1933 (Eric Cartwright)
The Shakiest Gun in the West - 1968 (man at bar)
The Outcasts (TV) - 1968 (storekeeper)