Cooper passed away Tuesday in a Beverly Hills hospital after a sudden illness. He was 88. One of Cooper's close friends told Eyewitness News that the actor started failing in the last few days.
Funeral services are pending.
As a kid, Cooper delighted audiences in comedies and dramas. His career spanned some 60 years before he retired from acting in 1990.
The Los Angeles native got his start around 1930, playing Jackie in the popular "Our Gang" shorts. In 1931, at the age of 9, he became the youngest actor ever nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his role in "Skippy." The same year, he brought audiences to tears opposite Wallace Beery in "The Champ."
He went on to develop a successful television career, most notably playing the lead role of Navy lieutenant in "Hennesey" in the early 1960s.
However, later fans may know him best as Daily Planet editor Perry White in four "Superman" films beginning in 1978, appearing opposite Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder.
Cooper also made a name for himself behind the camera, winning winning an Emmy Award in 1974 for directing an episode of "M*A*S*H" and another in 1979 for directing the pilot episode of "The White Shadow." He also earned a Directors Guild of America nomination for his work on "White Shadow."
Cooper was married three times and had four children.
City News Service contributed to this report.