But, according to Cooper, there was a distinct downside to early stardom.
As a valuable studio asset, he was forbidden to roller skate, ride a bicycle or cross the street by himself, lest he be injured. He received a poor education from his on-set tutors, and he had to deal with the same pressures and responsibilities as his adult costars.
Cooper chronicled the highs and lows of his career in his candid 1981 autobiography, "Please Don't Shoot My Dog," written with Dick Kleiner.
The book's title referred to a traumatic incident on the set of "Skippy," which was directed by Cooper's uncle, Norman Taurog.
When young Cooper was unable to summon tears for a big crying scene, Taurog threatened to remove the boy's small dog from the set and take it to the pound. The incident ended with Cooper believing his dog had been shot by an armed security guard.
"I could visualize my dog, bloody from that one awful shot," Cooper wrote. "I began sobbing, so hysterically that it was almost too much for the scene. [Taurog] had to quiet me down by saying perhaps my dog had survived the shot, that if I hurried and calmed down a little and did the scene the way he wanted, we would go see if my dog was still alive."
Only after doing the scene as best he could did Cooper learn that his dog was unharmed. He also saw Taurog, the guard and Cooper's grandmother grinning over their successful deception.
"Later, people tried to rationalize to me that I had gained more than I lost by being a child star," Cooper wrote. "They talked to me about the money I made. They cited the exciting things I had done, the people I had met, the career training I had had, all that and much more....
"But no amount of rationalization, no excuses, can make up for what a kid loses — what I lost — when a normal childhood is abandoned for an early movie career."