Todd Gault's Movie Serial Experience

Todd Gault's Film Serial Experience: Movie serials, cliffhangers and reviews. A gallery of movie serial stars.
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"Adventures of Captain Marvel"; Republic, 1941

Frank Coghlan, Jr. started out his acting career in the silent days playing juvenile leads in Yankee Clipper (1927), Marked Money (1928), and Let’s Go Gallegher (1929). With the coming of sound he did a short series of teen comedy films with a pre-stardom Shirley Temple as his baby sister under the Frolics of Youth banner.

As he entered adulthood, Coghlan moved into character roles, playing James Cagney as a youth in Public Enemy (1931), a jockey in both Kentucky Blue Streak (1935) and Charlie Chan at the Race Track (1936), and Mickey Rooney’s buddy in Men of Boy’s Town (1941).

It was during the thirties that he began his on again, off again appearances in serials. His first serial was as Uncas, the title character in Mascot’s liberal adaptation of Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans (1932). He next appeared in a serial six years later, playing Jackie Cooper’s sidekick in Universal’s Scouts to the Rescue (1938). His final serial appearance was as Billy Batson in Republic’s Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941).

After Henry Aldrich for President (1941) and Follow the Band (1941), featuring a young Robert Mitchum, Coghlan entered the Navy for the duration of the war. After the war he decided to stay in the service and worked in the Office of Information acting as liaison between the Navy and Hollywood. Some of the films he worked on as an advisor include The Caine Mutiny (1954), The Bridges at Toko Ri (1954), Mister Roberts (1955), PT- 109 (1963)and In Harm’s Way (1965). Some of the TV shows he helped with were Hennesy, Ensign O’Toole, Convoy, and The Wackiest Ship in the Navy.

After retiring from the Navy in 1965 he surprised himself by easily returning to acting, appearing on an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies and in the film The Sand Pebbles (1966). He is probably best known today as the spokesman for Curtis Mathes from 1975–1981, and again in 1989.

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