James Caughey "Coy" Watson, Jr. was the eldest of the Watson offspring — six boys and three girls — who made a mark in Los Angeles first as child actors, and later as news photographers. Coy Watson made the switch to the new medium of television in the 1940s and filmed for NBC the attempted rescue of little girl Kathy Fiscus from a well in San Marino 1949. From a piece written by Watson's daughter, distributed to the Old Farts Society, a group of retired L.A. Times staffers:
Coy Jr. appeared in early silent pictures (his first, "The Price of Silence", 1913, Selig Studio) and "talkies" playing feature roles and small parts with Hollywood greats such as Lon Chaney, Mary Pickford, Mae West, Cary Grant, Joan Bennett, Fatty Arbuckle, Jackie Coogan, Buck Jones and John Barrymore. Some of his directors included Mack Sennett, Marshal Neilan, King Vidor, George Marshall, Sam Wood and George Hill. Coy appeared in the opening scene of one of the first "sound on film" motion pictures, "Puttin' on the Ritz" (1930), with Joan Bennett and Harry Richmond.
In 1949, Coy shot Hollywood's first TV commercial on film for Vermont Motors. It aired between the televising of the Santa Anita horse races....The film replaced the usual "ad-card" advertising. That same year he made the first TV film documentary. Coy's story, "Operation Endurance" for McMillian Oil, featured two former W.W. II pilots "staying in the air" in a single-engine plane over 1,000 hours (42 days). Coy captured the non-stop re-fuelings, family-on-the-ground and other elements documenting this world-record-breaking event.
He lived in San Diego County in retirement and his book, "The Keystone Kid: Tales of Early Hollywood," was published in 2001. Here's an LAT obit.
Previously on LA Observed:
Delmar Watson, photographer was 82
Speaking of Kathy Fiscus: Historian William Deverell will deliver a lecture, “Little Girl Lost: The Kathy Fiscus Tragedy,” at the Huntington Library on March 30 at 7:30 p.m.