Adorable vintage newsreel: Jackie Coogan and Sheba the Elephant

In 1923 Detroit school children saved their pennies, nickels and dimes for a very special purchase: an Asian elephant named Sheba for the Belle Isle Zoo. You may remember her from this picture I posted about a year ago.

(via Virtual Motor City)

Today I found some adorable NEWSREEL (!!!) of Sheba the elephant. I promise it will make your Friday.

Here she is getting a bath.

Child star Jackie Coogan came to Detroit in 1926 in support of Near East Relief. He got to ride a carriage driven by Sheba the Elephant. He also got to hug Mayor John C. Lodge. MAYOR LODGE HUGGING ADORABLE CHILD STAR!

Adorable overload. Watch the reel.

Warning: VMC has digitized several HUNDRED of these newsreels and it is dangerously easy to lose your whole day watching them. Just be prepared.

Happy Friday,

The Night Train

(UPDATE, as of 7-20-2011: Jackie Coogan’s Near East Relief tour was in 1924, not 1926.)

#belle isle#jackie coogan#john c. lodge#sheba the elephant#virtual motor city


  1. Rob St. Mary - July 15, 2011 @ 10:39 am

    A little trivia – Jackie Coogan was in Chaplin’s “The Kid” and was loved later on in life as Uncle Fester on the Addams Family TV show.

  2. Anthony Coogan - July 20, 2011 @ 7:00 am

    Just a slight correction… The Near East Relief Fund (N.E.R.F) Food and Clothing drive occurred two years earlier, in 1924.

  3. amy - July 20, 2011 @ 8:11 am

    Thanks Anthony! I’ve appended a correction.

  4. David Rayner - February 26, 2016 @ 10:58 am

    Anthony is right, it was in 1924. After touring (in his own private railroad car) the big cities of the United States on his “Children’s Crusade” for the N.E.R.F, he was greeted everywhere by thousands of cheering fans who all adored him and donated food and clothing and other goods for the Near East orphans, Jackie’s last stop in the United States was New York, where he was mobbed on arrival at Grand Central Station. Then, on September 6th, 1924, aged nearly ten, he set sail for Europe aboard the luxury liner the Leviathan, arriving in Southampton, England on September 13th, again to be greeted by huge crowds of fans. Then on to London, where he was treated like a visiting prince, with thousands lining the route of his limousine, then on to Paris; Berlin; Athens and Rome, where he was greeted by the Pope and given a special medal for raising over $1 million dollars for the N.E.R.F. He really was a huge star. The first child superstar and nothing like the adoration his fans had for him was seen again until The Beatles forty years later.

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