If you watched TV during the late 1970s / early 1980s, you
undoubtedly saw Keith Coogan at some time or another. As a child, Keith made
appearances on virtually every big television program of the day. We're talking
about one-hour dramas like "The Waltons," "Eight is Enough," "Knight Rider" and
"CHiPS." Not to mention sitcoms like "Morky & Mindy" and "Laverne &
"Aaron Spelling took a liking to me. So I also made
appearances on a lot of his shows back then. 'Love Boat' and 'Fantasy Island,'
" Coogan recalled. "On the episode of 'Fantasy Island' that I shot, I kind of
lived every Disney fan's dream. In that I had my very own amusement park to
Why was Keith such a popular child performer back then?
Maybe it was because of the lessons that he learned from his famous
grandfather, Jackie Coogan. What with having made his screen debut in Charlie
Chaplin's first feature-length film, "The Kid," Jackie was basically Hollywood's first child star.
Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan in "The Kid." Copyright 1921 First National. All rights reserved
"To be honest, my grandfather never really helped me prepare
for any of the roles that I landed. He wouldn't run lines with me. He always
insisted that that was my job. That - as a professional working actor - it was
my responsibility to do my homework, so to speak. To show up for each &
every job on time knowing my lines well in advance," Coogan continued. "He was
also quite insistent that I have control over all of the money that I earned
while acting. Which - given what happened to him back when he was a kid - was
So how then did Keith wind up as the voice of Young Tod on
Walt Disney Animation Studios' 1981 release, "The Fox and the Hound" ? To be
blunt, Coogan doesn't really recall much about the early aspects of this
"It was just like any other audition, really. I'd actually
been in Disney's ADR booth before to loop dialogue for some of the TV shows
that I'd performed in. So I went in, read the sides that they gave me, and then
went on my next gig," Keith remembered. "It wasn't 'til a couple of weeks later
that I found out that Disney had selected me to voice Young Tod."
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
But once Coogan found out that he had actually landed this
role in "The Fox and the Hound," that's when he got excited.
"You've got to remember that this is my first part in a
feature film. What's more, it's my first voiceover gig," Keith said. "So I have
some very happy memories from the time that I worked on 'Fox and the Hound.' "
What's more, this animation voiceover gig was just the first
of a half-dozen parts that Coogan would audition for & eventually land on
Disney-produced projects. Take - for example - "Gun Shy." Which was basically
the Studios' short-lived attempt at producing a TV series that was based on
"The Apple Dumpling Gang" movies.
Copyright 1983 Walt Disney Productions. All rights reserved
"On that show, I wound up working with Barry Van Dyke. Who
played Mr. Donovan, the gambler that Bill Bixby originally played in the first
'Apple Dumpling' movie," Keith stated. "Now what was kind of interesting about
that was - previous to 'Gun Shy' - I had shot an episode of 'Super Train' with
Barry's Dad, Dick Van Dyke. So it was kind of cool - what with me being a
member of a show business family - to then get the chance to work with two
members of another show business family."
But what Coogan mostly remembers about "Gun Shy" was that it
was shot on the Disney backlot's Western street. Which gave this
then-12-year-old all sorts of fun places to explore.
"That part of the Disney backlot was just amazing. It had a
stagecoach office, a prison, even a two-story hotel," Keith explained. "Mind
you, I didn't get to spend a whole lot of time on the backlot. Disney only shot
six episodes total of 'Gun Shy.' And I was only in four of those. In the first
two episodes of this TV series, my part was actually played by Adam Rich from
'Eight is Enough.' "
Film crew shooting on Western Street on Walt Disney Studios' Western Street.Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
Coogan then went on to work on some of the very first
feature films that were produced at Walt Disney Studios after Michael Eisner became
the big cheese at the Mouse House. Chief among these were "Adventures in
Babysitting" and "Cheetah." Keith also appeared in one of DreamWorks SKG's
first box office successes, "Toy Soldiers."
But as adulthood reared its ugly head, Coogan decided that it was high time
that he broadened his horizons. Which is why Keith enrolled in Santa Monica
College, where he majored in Drama and minored in English Literature. Later
on, Coogan attended Los Angeles City College, where he then learned everything
he could about Java Programming. Which really comes in handy these days, given
the blogs that Keith runs.
As for acting ... Coogan still keeps a hand in. Most recently,
he appeared on the Web series "Crafty" as well as the feature film, "Cats Dancing On Jupiter." And while he's out making the rounds at
auditions, he sometimes run into his old "Fox and the Hound" co-star, Corey
Feldman (who voiced Young Copper in this 1981 Walt Disney Productions release).
Copyright 1981 Walt Disney Productions, Inc.All rights reserved
"I can't say that we're good, close friends. But given that we were both
working as child actors in Hollywood around the same time and because of our
link through 'The Fox and the Hound,' we talk whenever we see each other,"
Keith said. "And I can tell you that Corey is just as proud of this movie as I
am. I mean, how often do you get to be a part of something that's as timeless
as Disney's 'Cinderella' ?"
Which brings me to the most obvious question: What does
Coogan actually think of "The Fox and the Hound" ?
"I think it holds up pretty well. What with what was going on at Disney
Animation Studios at that time, with the new guard taking over for the old
guard, it's a film that occupies an interesting place in Disney Company's
history," Keith concluded. "More to the point, it's got a great third act with
lots of action & dramatic twists.
And if you don't tear up at that scene in the finale where Adult Copper
steps in front of Adult Tod in order to prevent Amos Slade from shooting the
fox, you're a cyborg. That part of the movie gets to me every single time that
I watch it. And I worked on the thing!"
Copyright 1981 Walt Disney Productions, Inc. All rights reserved
If you'd like to revisit this memorable moment from that 1981 Walt Disney
Production, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment just released "The Fox and
the Hound" and "The Fox and the Hound II" on Blu-ray and DVD.
The Fox and the Hound / The Fox and the Hound Two (Three-Disc 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray / DVD Combo in Blu-ray Packaging)
I think Fox and the Hound II, as well as every II and III Disney straight to video sequel should have never been made. They are a pox on society and a travesty.