A former child star, Cooper was one of only two young stars to win a Best Actor/Actress Oscar nomination before his 18th birthday for his role in 1931's Skippy. He was nine.
He also appeared in Treasure Island as Jim Hawkins and 1940's The Return of Frank James before turning his attention to TV as a regular and, in his later years, directing dramas like M*A*S*H* and The White Shadow.
But he's best known by movie fans as Perry White, the editor of the Daily Planet, where Superman's alter-ego Clark Kent worked in 1978's Superman and its three sequels.
He was also a true American hero - Cooper served in the U.S. Navy in the South Pacific towards the end of World War Two and became a leading naval recruitment officer in the Naval Reserve.
In the mid-1970s, just before he took on the role in the Superman film, he was promoted to a Captain.
According to IMDB.com, the Navy proposed a period of active duty at the Pentagon for Cooper in 1980, which would have resulted in a promotion to Rear Admiral - but he declined the offer so he could concentrate on his directing dreams.
Only one other celebrity, James Stewart, has held a higher military rank.
Flowers were placed on Cooper's Hollywood Walk of Fame star on Wednesday afternoon (04May11).