A NUTTY NUT
NEWS NETWORK EXCLUSIVE
Benedict and Frank Coghlan, Jr
Steve Wichrowski, Jr.
Text by Mike David and Dean McKeown.
We recently found in our archives a two part
celebrity audio interview not available for over 20 years. It involves two
character actors from the classic film era of the '30s and '40s.
The first audio is a brief talk with William
"Billy" Benedict, best remembered for his juvenile roles in the Little
Tough Guys Series and the Bowery Boys films. He also appeared briefly with
the Boys in "Great Guns".
The second interview is an extensive and
fascinating discussion with Frank "Junior Coghlan" who appeared in 3 early
Our Gang films. He recounts his appearance in the renowned "Public Enemy"
(1931) as a youthful James Cagney and also recalls his work with a young
Billy is best remembered as Billy Batson ("Shazam!")
in "The Adventures of Captain Marvel" (1941) and he describes one of the
scenes from that film.
These exclusive interviews were recorded by our
Roving Reporter Steve Wichrowski, Jr., at the 1990 Way Out West Annual
Banquet in Los Angeles.
(April 16, 1917 – November 25, 1999)
Born in Haskell, Oklahoma William
Benedict made his Hollywood debut in 1935 appearing alongside
Edward Everett Horton in $10 Raise. William quickly became a a
regular in films frequently playing juvenile roles. 1939 saw him
appear in Universal Pictures Little Tough Guy series, the same
year he appeared in Laurel and Hardy's Great Guns. From
the Little Tough Guy series Benedict moved into The East Side Kids
which later became The Bowery Boys (1946) where he stayed until
1951. William continued to work extensively in films and
television until the late 1980s and appeared alongside greats such
as Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, W.C. Fields, Paul Newman, Henry
Fonda and Robert Redford.
For William's IMDB page.
For William's Independent Newspapers
Henry Fonda, Gene Tierney and William
Billy Benedict in Rings on Her Fingers.
Frank, Louise Currie and Billy in Captain
Frank Coghlan, Jr.
(March 15, 1916 – September 7, 2009)
Also known as "Junior Coghlan", Frank Coghlan,
Jr. was born in New Haven, Connecticut, shortly after his birth his
parents made the move to Hollywood. Frank started appearing on film in
1920 and quickly became one of Hollywood's most popular child stars. He
appeared in the early Our Gang films for at Hal Roach Studios. He proved
so popular that he was quickly signed to a long contract by Cecil B. DeMille who described him as "the perfect example of a homeless waif". As
his career continued to shine the press frequently reported on his
schooling as well as his film roles. In 1929 a newspaper story stated that
the twelve-year-old actor was "recognized by the motion picture public as
the leading juvenile screen player in the world." With the advent of
talkies Frank's star continued to shine and he appeared alongside many of
the greats of the time and helped launch the career of Shirley Temple. By
the late 1930s juvenile parts became more difficult to get as Frank was no
longer 'Junior'. He had a small role in Gone With the Wind before
re-establishing himself in Republic Pictures serial Adventures of Captain
Marvel. Coghlan would transformed into Captain Marvel (played by Tom
Tyler) by saying the magic word "Shazam." Frank's became widely recognised
for his role in the Captain Marvel series for the rest of his career, in
later life he commented:
"There's a whole cult of people out there who are fascinated by Captain
Marvel. I'm getting invited to a lot more things these days. They think
I'm a celebrity."
After spending twenty-three years as an actor Frank joined the Navy and
served with distinction for a twenty-three year stint before returning to
acting in 1965 and going onto appear in motion pictures, television
programs, and commercials. He published an autobiography in 1992.
For Frank's IMDB page.
For Frank's L.A. Times
Frank Jr Coghlan in Rubber Tires, 1927.