From “The Marvelous Boy Of The Movies,” by Charlie Chaplin, Vanity Fair, January 1921
It was by pure accident that I met this remarkable child actor. He was with his parents in a Los Angeles hotel sleeping, as a child will, in a chair. He was roused in order to meet me. He rubbed his eyes, jumped up, made his politest bow, and promptly went back to sleep.
However, in that instant, I had seen the rare quality of Jackie Coogan, a quality so lovable that I followed him up, induced his parents to let him become a member of my company and shortly set about a picture which might express something of my feeling–which, I believe, will not prove a purely individual reaction–toward the child.
What first attracted me to the boy was a whimsical, wistful quality, a genuineness of feeling. He is the lovable child carried to the nth power, yet endowed with not a little of the self-consciousness of an artist and with a hundred resources as an actor….
In this initial stages of his training, however, my chief difficulty was to overcome his inattention, or rather that inability to concentrate the attention, which is, of course, a common characteristic of all children. One quality he has, which is extraordinary in a child: his ability to repeat a scene without losing interest. I have seen him pick up an object after a dozen rehearsals, with a wonder and attention, which would make you believe he was looking at it for the first time in his life….
Now that The Kid is about to be released, I suppose another picture made by myself and Jack Coogan is scarcely probable. What the boy will do, I don’t know, but then neither do I know what I shall do, I shall probably go on wearing a trick moustache and carrying a cane too small for me, until at last I meet the undertaker.