Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Actor Frank Coghlan Jr. & Rocker Jim Carroll Pass On

Frank Coghlan Jr.

Actor Frank Coghlan Jr., the actor who played Billy Batson in the classic serial Adventures of Captain Marvel, passed at the age of 93 on September 7.

Frank Coghlan Jr. was born in New Haven, Connecticut on March 15, 1916. While he was still an infant, his parents moved to Los Angeles, California. Billed as Junior Coghlan, he made his film debut in a bit part in Daredevil Jack in 1920. He soon found steady employment as a child actor, appearing in such films as Rookies, The Fourth Muskeeteer, and The Spanish Dancer. As his career progressed, his parts became more visible, and he appeared in such films as The Yankee Clipper, The Country Doctor, and The Girl Said No.

Frank Coghlan Jr.'s career was very steady throughout the Thirties. He appeared in a small part in The Public Enemy in 1931. He played Uncas in the 1932 version of The Last of the Mohicans. He also had roles in Charlie Chan at the Race Track, Angels with Dirty Faces, The Angels Wash Their Faces, and Meet Dr. Christian. He had an uncredited role as a collapsing Confederate soldier in Gone With the Wind, and as a messenger in Knute Rockne All American. It was in 1941 that he played the role of Billy Batson, the alter ego of Captain Marvel, in Adventures of Captain Marvel. He went onto appear in such films as The Courtship of Andy Hardy, Andy Hardy's Double Life, Presenting Lily Mars, and Corvette K-225.

Frank Coghlan Jr. served as an aviator in the Navy during World War II. Ultimately, he spent 23 years in the Navy. For many years he served as the Navy's liaison with Hollywood. In this capacity he served as a technical advisor on films ranging from PT 109 to The Caine Mutiny. He retired in 1965 with the rank of lieutenant commander and over 4500 hours of flight time.

Frank Coghlan Jr. resumed acting in 1965 with a guest appearance on The Beverly Hillbillies. He went onto appear in small parts in the films # The Shakiest Gun in the West, Valley of the Dolls, The Love-Ins, and The Sand Pebbles. He also guest starred on the shows The Outcasts, Dragnet 1966, and, fittingly, Shazam (the Saturday morning TV show about Captain Marvel).

Frank Coghlan Jr.'s career in talkies was spent primarily in bit parts. It is for this reason that he is primarily known as Billy Batson from Adventures of Captain Marvel. Coghlan did very well in the part, so much so that it is surprising that his roles in other films weren't bigger. Beyond his acting career, Coghlan had an extraordinary career in the Navy, for which he should also be remembered. During his naval career he flew during both World War II and the Korean War.

Jim Carroll

Punk rocker and author Jim Carroll passed on September 11, 2009 at the age of 60. The cause was a heart attack.

Jim Carroll was born in New York City on August 1, 1949. He started out in public schools, but soon won a scholarship to the private Trinity High School. He was interested in both writing and basketball. His talent in the latter led him to participate in the National High School All Star Game in 1966. He attended both Wagner College and Columbia University in New York.

As a writer Jim Carroll published his first book, Organic Trains, when he was 17. His poetry was published in such periodicals as The Paris Review. By 1973 he had two collections of poetry published--4 Ups and 1 Down and Living at the Movies. It was in 1978 that Carroll wrote his most famous work, The Basketball Diaries. It was later adapted into a motion picture.

It was also in 1978 that Jim Carroll formed his own band. Carroll had met Patti Smith in 1970 and the two were soon living together. It was Smith who brought Carroll in the punk rock fold. He released his first album, Catholic Boy, in 1980. It featured what remains his best known song "People Who Died." He would release four more albums (Dry Dreams, I Write Your Name, Pools of Mercury, and Runaway.

Carroll published four more collections of poetry, as well as the follow up to The Basketball Diaries, Forced Entries.

While I've never read any of Jim Carroll's poetry or prose, I know that he was well regarded in both media. In fact, The Basketball Diaries was considered for the Pulitzer. I have heard his songs and I must say he was very talented as a lyricist. Indeed, his lyrics seemed the perfect expression of the nihilism inherent in the punk movement. I am not sure any other lyricist captured the genre quite so well.

1 comment:

Jim Marquis said...

I love "People Who Died". It's really one of the few punk rock songs I can say that about.