Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Tribute: Mickey Rooney

posted by Nell Minow

One of the last remaining links to the golden age of Hollywood left us this week when Mickey Rooney died at age 93. That means he was in show business for more than 90 years, from his first performance in vaudeville before he was 2 to his last in the upcoming remake of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”  In the Washington Post, Adam Bernstein’s graceful obituary paid him tribute.

The irrepressible performer Mickey Rooney, who died April 6 at 93, began appearing before audiences at 15 months in his parents’ vaudeville act, singing “Pal o’ My Cradle Days” while sporting a tuxedo and holding a rubber cigar.

So launched a nine-decade career of unapologetic scene-stealing — he could sing, dance, play drums and do pathos, pratfalls and impersonations — that once made him the top box-office draw in the world.

Born into a performing family as Joe Yule, Jr., he was just 15 months old when he joined his parents on stage. He appeared in more than 300 films, television shows, and theatrical productions, winning a special Oscar and nominated for a Tony. He was a performing powerhouse. His greatest success came as the star of the popular series of Andy Hardy movies, playing a small-town kid in an idealized America, and as the co-star of his close friend and fellow second-generation vaudeville veteran, Judy Garland. They made several musical films together and were usually finding some reason to put on a show in somebody’s barn. The stories were corny but the musical numbers were magnificent.

YouTube Preview Image

He first appeared as a child in silent films. Here he is in an early talkie, as Puck in the lovely “Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

YouTube Preview Image

Rooney was a gifted serious actor as well. Some of my favorites of his early performances are “Boys Town,” “The Human Comedy,” “Young Tom Edison,” and especially “National Velvet.”

YouTube Preview Image

He was nominated for an Oscar for another horse movie, “The Black Stallion.”

YouTube Preview Image

He appeared in every kind of film, from crime drama (“The Strip”) to sports (“Requiem for a Heavyweight”) to wacky comedy (“It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World”). But in a romance, he was more likely to be the wacky neighbor (his most embarrassing performance, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”) than the lead.

Off-screen, he struggled, with eight marriages (including Ava Gardner), and substance abuse, gambling, and financial problems, all described with candor in his autobiography, Life Is Too Short. His real home was performing and we were very lucky to be his audience. May his memory be a blessing.



Previous Posts

List: YA Books About Coming Out and Same-Sex Relationships
My good friend Sandie is my go-to for YA literature as she is not only very knowledgeable but also very insightful, with superb taste. As a part of her series of books that explore issues of diversity, understanding, and identity, she has put together a list of the best YA books that explore LGBT i

posted 4:41:34pm Nov. 23, 2014 | read full post »

Gortimer Gibbons: Life on Normal Street
Amazon Prime's new series for families is a delight. Gortimer Gibbons: Life on Normal Street is the story of three middle school-age friends and the mysteries they investigate on Normal Street are anything but normal. It has fun and fantasy but mostly it has friendship. It's a perfect choice for

posted 3:58:21pm Nov. 23, 2014 | read full post »

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Auction Tomorrow from Bonhams/TCM
Bonhams and Turner Classic Movies have joined together again for another auction of classic Hollywood memorabilia, with treasures from the golden age of movie-making, including the piano Sam plays "As

posted 8:00:36am Nov. 23, 2014 | read full post »

Little Hope Was Arson
In a small East Texas community "with a church on every corner," 10 churches were burned. One church showed the Christian film "Fireproof" one night and showed that it was far from fireproof itself

posted 8:40:04pm Nov. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Docudrama about Handel's Messiah on BYUtv November 27, 2014
BYUtv has produced a new docudrama, Handel’s Messiah, premiering November 27, 2014, about the world’s most popular and renowned choral work by one of the leading composers of the Baroque era, George Frideric Handel. The docudrama, narrated by Emmy® and Golden Globe®-winning actress Jane Seymo

posted 8:00:38am Nov. 22, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.