Sunday, February 12, 2017

Edwin Irwin Cooper (1889-1935)

Hollywood, Here I Come

Edwin Irwin Cooper 1906
Edwin Irwin COOPER was the third son of Alexander Sisson COOPER and Laura Jane BOYD born on 9 Jan 1889 in Dublin, Ireland. I recently found his birth registration after looking for it for several years. It is listed with only his middle name Irwin. Irish birth, marriage and death records were recently placed online through Irish 

Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, "Civil Records," database with images, ( : accessed 5 February 2017), image, birth registration of [Edwin] Irwin Cooper  (9 January 1889, 97 Artizans Dwellings, County of Dublin, city of Dublin South), citing Group Registration ID 10438147; registration filed 5 April 1889 by G. Whiteside, in South Dublin Registration District, unidentified register, folio 617, “First page,” stamped no. 01922640, entry 88.

In 2010, church records from Ireland were placed online which lead me to Edwin's baptism record which also listed his birthdate. Here we see first and middle names listed together as Edwin Irwin.
Birth date is 9 Jan 1889 and baptism 12 March 1889.

Irish Church Records. Irish St. Peter Parish, Dublin. 1886. No Volume listed. Page 102. Number 814. : accessed 5 October 2016.

I find twelve year old Edwin with his family in the Dublin 1901 Census.

1901 Census of Ireland, County Dublin, unpaginated, household no. 139, Alexander Cooper; digital image, National Archives of Ireland, Census of Ireland 1901/1911 ( : accessed 29 Sep 2016)

Seventeen year old, Edwin leaves for America on 3 Nov 1906 on the S.S. Carmania and arrives in New York the following week. He meets his father, Alexander and younger brother, Alex Jr., who came to the U.S. the year before.  Another older brother, John C. Cooper (my grandfather) arrived a few months earlier.

The photo above of Edwin is taken after he arrives in New York in 1906. His physical description is listed here on the passenger list. He is 5’ 7” tall, with a light complexion, with brown hair and blue eyes. You can find him on Line 22 on this poor torn copy of the pages of the ship records. See link below for a clearer copy of the document.

Two years later, Edwin marries Bertha Raiso in Manhattan on 1 Dec 1908. They have a daughter Eileen born in March 1910. Baby Eileen is found with her parents in the 1910 US Census on East 17th Street in Manhattan. Edwin works in an office as a clerk.

In 1917, Edwin fills out the World War I Draft Registration Card with no new information or so I think. He signed the card on June 5 stating that he is married with an unnamed wife listed. I assume it is Bertha. He is living at 459 West 22nd St.

In the 1920 census, Edwin is found with wife, Edith, the one I know about. It is interesting to see that he is going through his Pa (papers) for naturalization. He has another daughter, Doris, born 25 Feb 1918. Edwin and Edith were married 13 Apr 1917, in Brooklyn, New York. Doris was born in Englewood, New Jersey. 

Edwin Cooper, Doris Cooper, Alexander Sisson Cooper
As Doris states  in her short biography, “I was born in 1918 in the Englewood Hospital, N.J., because my mother had trained there and her older sister was Head Nurse. But my parents were living in Brooklyn, N.Y. and she and I returned there as soon as we could.”

Edwin and Edith have a son, John “Jack” David Cooper, born 13 Dec 1921, in Brooklyn, New York.

Edwin’s occupation during this time is a “moving picture operator” in New York City, with silent movies. He was promoted working for Warner Brothers from 1926 to 1935. He was moved to Hollywood in 1926 with stops on the way in major cities across the United States as he instructed motion picture projectionists in the new SOUND movie technology, “which he helped develop” according to his son, Jack Cooper. Is this a family story that needs more research?

The movie Don Juan premiered in New York City on 26 August 1926, produced by the Vitaphone Corporation along with Warner Brothers.   Don Juan was such a success that the film was sent on the road across the country to Boston, Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis and Los Angeles. 1 

How were "out-dated" movie theaters able to keep up with this new sound phenomena? Was this the movie that brought Edwin across the country to Los Angeles? 

The movie The Jazz Singer was a hit the following year, winning a first honorary Academy Award for technical achievement to Warner Brothers for the production of an outstanding pioneer talking picture, which revolutionized the industry. 2

Edwin continued to instruct movie theater projectionists the Vitaphone system throughout the southwestern states.

Edwin and family are found in Los Angeles in 1930. His occupation is listed as an “instructing operator for Vitaphone” in the 1930 U. S. Census. This occupation sent me on a research project.

Photo to the left shows a Vitaphone projection setup at a 1926 demonstration. Engineer E. B. Craft is holding a soundtrack disc. The turntable, on a massive tripod base, is at lower center. 3

This sound system lasted about 5 years and is displayed in the humorous film Singing in the Rain (1952) 

The photo to the right shows Edwin taking a break on the roof of the Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Blvd. as written on back of photo and verified by daughter, Doris Cooper.

Edwin Irwin Cooper 1930s.

Edith is listed as a Widow with her 19 year old son, David or known as "Jack," in the 1940 U. S. Census. I hunt down Edwin’s death certificate. I find him in the California Death Index and order a copy from the Department of Health Services in Sacramento, California. He dies on 17 Feb 1935 in Los Angeles, CA. He is buried on 20 Feb at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale.  I also find  his obituary in The Los Angeles Times on 19 Feb 1935, from

Photo taken by author

Edwin Irwin Cooper obituary, The Los Angeles Times, 
19 February 1935, p. 18, col. on
Ancestry.comAccessed 12 Jul 2016.
I started researching my father’s side of the family in 2000 after my maternal side had a family reunion. My father’s cousin, Jack, was many of the first Cooper cousins I connected with who helped with photos and family stories. His sister, Doris, was also a great help as she was excited over our family history. Doris also met me in Salt Lake City for family research in 2003. I even took two trips to visit them in         Arizona.

Growing up, I remember visiting my grandaunt, Edith Richter Cooper, 
with my parents whenever we were in California. 
In 2005, both Jack and Doris came to visit me and my mother, 
along with my aunt Eileen, their cousin. 
We lost Jack in 2011 and Doris in 2012. I miss them both. I treasure the opportunity I had connecting with them and renewing our “adult” family relationships.

I recently made a trip to Hollywood to find out more about Uncle Edwin. This adventure continues in my next blog post. 

1. Filmmaker IQ. The History of Sound at the Movies. Youtube. 
2. The Jazz Singer. Wikipedia. 
3. Auto Engineering Society. Motion Picture Sound Part 1.

No comments:

Post a Comment