Manny P. here…
One of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s greatest stars of the Studio Era has died. Mickey Rooney’s film, television, and stage appearances spanned nearly his entire lifetime. He became a superstar as a teen for the Andy Hardy series, and he had one of the longest careers of any actor, spanning 92 years, from the 1920s to the 2010s. MICKEY ROONEY ——————>
Born in Brooklyn, both of his parents were in vaudeville. He began performing at the age of 17 months as part of his parents’ routine, wearing a specially tailored tuxedo. His first screen offer was made by Hal Roach to appear in the Our Gang comedies. Fontaine Fox had placed a newspaper ad for a dark-haired child to play the role of Mickey McGuire in a series of short films. He got the role and became Mickey for 78 of the comedies, running from 1927 to 1936, starting with Mickey’s Circus. During the Silent Era, and into talkies, he was cast in bit parts in movies featuring established stars such as Colleen Moore, Clark Gable, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Joel McCrea, and Jean Harlow. Rooney signed with MGM in 1934.
In 1937, he was selected to portray Andy Hardy in A Family Affair, which was planned as a B-movie. He provided comic relief as the son of Judge James K. Hardy, portrayed by Lionel Barrymore (although Lewis Stone would play the role in subsequent films). The film was an unexpected success, and led to 13 more Andy Hardy films between 1937 and 1946, and a final film in 1958. Rooney made his first film with Judy Garland with Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry. They became lifelong friends and a very successful song-and-dance team. Besides three Andy Hardy flicks, where she portrayed Betsy Booth, a young girl with a crush on Andy, they were in a string of hit musicals, including the Oscar-nominated Babes in Arms.
Mickey was memorable in Manhattan Melodrama and Captain’s Courageous. His breakthrough as a dramatic actor came in 1938′s Boys Town opposite Spencer Tracy as Whitey Marsh, which opened just before his 18th birthday. He was awarded a Juvenile Academy Award in 1939, and was named the biggest Hollywood box-office draw for three years in 1939, 1940, and 1941. At the height of his popularity. he was cast in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Young Tom Edison, Men of Boys Town, Babes on Broadway, A Yank at Eton, A Human Comedy, Girl Crazy, and National Velvet.
Rooney enlisted in the United States Army. He served more than 21 months, until shortly after the end of World War II. During and after the war, he entertained the troops in America and Europe, and also spent part of the time as a radio personality on the American Forces Network and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for entertaining troops in combat zones. He also received the Army Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, and World War II Victory Medal for his military service.
His career slumped after the war. Despite a few starring roles, he was assigned smaller parts, including Words and Music, The Big Wheel, Quicksand, The Bridges at Toko-Ri, The Bold and the Brave, Baby Face Nelson, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Requiem for a Heavyweight, and It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World. One of Mickey’s fine small screen-moments was playing a jockey in The Twilight Zone. Though he kept working in cinema and television, his comeback was a magnificent Oscar nominated-turn in The Black Stallion in 1979. The same year, he starred with Ann Miller in the Broadway revue Sugar Babies, which brought him a Tony nomination. Two years later, he garnered an Emmy and Golden Globe for his touching performance in Bill. He received an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Lifetime Achievement Award in 1983.
The actor was married eight times, most notably to Ava Gardner and Martha Vickers. After a tumultuous personal life, he became an active member of the Church of Religious Science. In September, 2010, he celebrated his 90th birthday at Feinstein’s at the Loews Regency in the Upper East Side of New York City. Among the stars who attended: Donald Trump, Regis Philbin, Nathan Lane, and Tony Bennett.
Mickey Rooney, the diminutive dynamo, was 93.
Until next time> “never forget”