There is very sad news to report today: Jesse Lanier Cooper, the 17-year-old son of Oscar winner Chris Cooper and his wife, “Sopranos” co-star Marianne Leone, died at the family’s Kingston home Monday night.
Jesse, the couple’s only child, died of natural causes related to his cerebral palsy, family spokeswoman Cara Tripicchio said.
“They are fantastic people and our hearts go out to them,” Tripicchio said. “It’s very, very unfortunate.” The Coopers have been tireless advocates for special needs kids in the Boston area since moving here in 1994. The couple relocated from the New York area to the South Shore because they believed Massachusetts had the more progressive educational opportunities for children with cerebral palsy.
“My wife did her research and found out Massachusetts was about 20 years ahead of other states in terms of mainstreaming kids with disabilities into public schools,” Cooper said last year.
Even with that, the couple “really had to fight” for resources for their son, said Cooper, who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as an orchid thief in “Adaptation.”
Jesse was eventually mainstreamed into classes at Silver Lake Regional High School, where he earned a place on the honor roll. The boy’s success was due, in large part, to the dedication and sacrifices made by his parents.
I met Chris and Marianne last summer. We’ve stayed in touch off and on by email, but I just heard about this over the weekend. My deepest sympathies go out to them both.
…They’ve set up a foundation to support charities that meant a lot to their son. To donate, send a check payable to:
Jesse Cooper Foundation
P.O. Box 390
Kingston, MA 02364