Frank Coghlan, Jr.

Active - 1923 - 1969  |   Born - Mar 15, 1916 in New Haven, CT  |   Died - Sep 7, 2009 in Saugus, CA  |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Romance, Crime

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Born in Connecticut and raised in Los Angeles, Frank Coghlan Jr. began appearing in films at age 3; his meager income helped to pay his father's way through chiropractic college. Though his mother was reluctant to allow her son to appear before the cameras, young Frank took to performing with ease, playing bits in 2-reel comedies. Placed under contract to Cecil B. DeMille, who considered the boy "the perfect example of a homeless waif," Frank became a popular juvenile performer. Billed as Junior Coghlan, he appeared prominently in such major silent films as The Yankee Clipper (1926), Let 'Er Go Gallegher (1927) and Slide, Kelly, Slide (1927). During the early talkie era, Coghlan was co-starred with fellow child actor Leon Janney in Penrod and Sam (1930) and played James Cagney as a boy in Public Enemy (1931). As a free-lancer, Coghlan appeared in several serials, including 1941's The Adventures of Captain Marvel, in which he was top-billed as the Captain's youthful alter ego Billy Batson. He also showed up in many bit roles, usually playing a Western Union messenger boy. With the onslaught of World War II, Coghlan began his 23-year Navy career as an aviator. He rose to the rank of Commander, and from 1952 through 1954 was in charge of the movie section of the Pentagon's Office of Information, acting as liaison and technical advisor for such films as The Caine Mutiny (1954) and Bridges of Toko-Ri (1955). He was later in charge of the navy's Hollywood office, coordinating official naval cooperation for films like In Harm's Way (1964) and TV series like Hennessey. After retiring from the Navy, Coghlan worked in public relations for the Los Angeles Zoo and the Port of Los Angeles. He also resumed his acting career, spending seven years as commercial spokesman for Curtis Mathes. As of 1995, Frank Coghlan Jr. was still very active on the nostalgia-convention circuit, and still as unfailingly courteous and likeable as ever.

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