Saturday, August 8, 2009

Jackie Coogan and Trent "Junior" Durkin

(By The United Press)
San Diego, May 4. -- Four men were killed and JACKIE COOGAN, 20 year old former boy film star, was injured tonight when an automobile in which COOGAN and his party were returning from a hunting trip into Mexico plunged off the road at high speed into a creek bed on the El Centro Highway, fifty miles east of here.
The dead were:
JOHN L. COOGAN, SR., father of the former boy actor.
JUNIOR DURKIN, 19 year old motion picture actor.
CHARLES JONES, foreman of the COOGAN Ranch, near here.
ROBERT HORNER, 25, Hollywood film writer.
JACKIE COOGAN was reported not seriously injured.
The San Diego County coroner at Pine Valley, where the dead and injured were brought, said the automobile left the road on a curve, plunged over a bank, and rolled over four times before it came to a stop in the bottom of the creek.
JACKIE COOGAN, bruised and shocked at the death of his father, said the automobile left the road in attempting to dodge another machine. COOGAN, SR., was driving.
Jumped Out.
"I crouched down in the seat as the car turned end over end twice," Young COOGAN said. "Then I straightened up and jumped out. I saw the automobile turn over two or three more times."
JACKIE said he seized the foot rest in the rumble seat and held on, riding with the car end over end.
DURKIN, who had been in pictures since early childhood, was riding with him in the rumble seat.
Their friendship started when DURKIN played the title role in Huckleberry Finn, and JACKIE took the part of Tom Sawyer in the same film. The partnership was seated in death when DURKIN lost his grip and was hurtled from the rumble seat to fall dead in the rocky creek bed.
Father Dies Later.
JACKIE'S father died shortly after the car smashed into the rocks. JACKIE, dazed and bruised, and his fater were the only survivors of the accident when passersby first arrived.
The elder COOGAN died of his injuries with his famous son by his side. The younger COOGAN was brought to the Pine Valley store, where he received treatment, but was found not to be seriously injured.
Postmaster JAMES RUSSELL of Pine Valley called in a nearby priest to comfort JACKIE.
JACKIE'S mother, and PATRICIA ELLIS, pretty young actress who has ofter been seen with the young actor, chartered a special airplane to fly to San Diego. They planned to proceed by car to Pine Valley.
Has Chest Injury.
DR. H. G. WESTPHAL, Glendale physician who flew to the scene with JACKIE'S mother and MISS ELLIS, reported that JACKIE suffered a chest injury, including two injured ribs, possibly broken, cuts and bruises. An ambulance was dispatched to Pine Valley to bring him to San Diego.
"They were traveling west on the highway," DR. WESTPHAL said JACKIE told him, "when an automobile which JACKIE said he thought he could identify approached from the opposite direction, on the center line of the highway, and swerved over."
"The other machine forced the COOGAN car from the highway. It swerved into an eight-foot ditch."
"JACKIE and JUNIOR DURKIN were in the rumble seat. JACKIE saw the other car swerve toward them. COOGAN, SR., lost control. When the car left the road it cut five heavy posts, turned over five times and crashed into the rocks."
"All but JACKIE were thrown out as the car landed in the creek bed."
"Young COOGAN picked himself up and went first to the unconscious form of his father. He dragged his father up to the roadside, then brought all the rest up.
Flags Motorist.
"JACKIE flagged down M. E. MAGEE of El Centro, a passing motorist. MAGEE had to drive thirty miles to the nearest physician. Before that doctor arrived, all the critically injured except JACKIE'S father were dead."
"MR. COOGAN died in his son's arms a moment after the physician arrived."
Deputy Coroner DAVE GERSHEN of San Diego County said the COOGAN automobile was traveling at a high rate of speed, "seventy miles an hour, at least."
He said that it skidded 100 feet on the pavement, 125 feet after it struck the fence and then hurtled into the creek bed.
Planned Weekend Party.
JACKIE COOGAN had planned to have a number of Hollywood friends as weekend guests at his ranch.
Among others who had planned to go were PATRICIA ELLIS, TOBY WING, with whom JACKIE'S name has been associated romantically, both film actresses, and WILLIAM JANNEY, juvenile film actor.
JACKIE went down alone Thursday and was followed Friday by DURKIN, HORNER, DURKIN'S two sisters, GRACE and GERTRUDE, and PAULA STONE, daughter of FRED STONE.
The Fresno Bee Republican California 1935-05-05

1 comment:

Salty said...

Thank you for posting an interesting, though sad, detail from a beloved actors life.
I am told he was also friends with a youth named Hart before said was kidnapped in 1933.