Monday, December 21, 2015

Elbert Coplen Jr., the infant star of Bachelor Mother (1939)

Little Elbert Coplen Jr. went on to make a splash in Hollywood that didn’t last past the toddler stage.

At the tender age of 8 months, Elbert Coplen Jr. played John ("Johnnie") in the hilarious RKO comedy Bachelor Mother (1939). His father, Elbert Coplen Sr., was a mechanical engineer at the now defunct Douglas Aircraft Manufacturing Co. in Los Angeles and his mother, maiden name Callanan, was a housewife. RKO had a call out for babies 6 months of age to appear in the film. 50 mothers auditioned their babies for the part and director Garson Kanin chose little “Bert” Coplen. Kanin didn’t necessarily want the most well-behaved baby. He was looking for a baby who was photogenic, healthy and wasn’t prone to many crying fits.

According to The Milwaukee Journal, Kanin thought crying babies were sick babies. Little Bert’s scenes were shot in short increments. He never worked more than 2 hours a day and was paid $75 a week. Other babies were used as stand-in for some scenes. Little Bert grew three teeth during filming and director Kanin had to re-shoot certain close-up shots for continuity reasons. Little Bert was born Elbert Milan Coplen Jr. on August 18th, 1938 in Los Angeles, CA. I did some digging and couldn’t find much on him. If he is alive today he would be 77 years old. He married Joann Coplen and they had two children, Scott and Lori. It's possible he resides in Southern California. His father Elbert M. Coplen Sr. is credited as co-inventor of the Snap Fastener .

If you have any information I could add to this, please feel free to contact me!

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