Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Mickey Rooney 1920-2014

  If you read this blog you must realize I like movies. We are a movie watching family. I have always loved the movies of the 30's and 40's. My kids were raised on classic movies. We were all saddened to hear of the death of Mickey Rooney, who died on Sunday at the age of 93.
  My kids grew up watching Mickey, not only in classic old movies, but in contemporary movies of their own era, like the Disney Channel's "Phantom of the Megaplex" and "Babe,Pig in the City". We were all pleasantly surprised to see Mickey pop up in a cameo in "The Muppets" in 2011.

  My girls both love musicals and went through their Mickey and Judy Garland stage, and also loved the Andy Hardy movies.In 1998,when Emma and Fuzz were little, we took them to see the stage version of The Wizard of Oz, starring Mickey Rooney as the Wizard.
Program from The Wizard of Oz with Mickey and Eartha Kitt.
After the play all the principal actors came out and signed autographs for fans and posed for pictures---except Mickey. Emma was disappointed, as she really wanted to see him and get his autograph.I suppose the play must have been tiring for a guy who was nearly 71 and he needed his rest after all that running around. And he did run around. He was all over the stage and moving pretty fast at times. Maybe that's what kept him going to nearly 94 years old. He kept active and never stopped performing.
  Mickey and his last wife toured the country in a two person show. In 2001 they came to our town and appeared at the theatre here. I wasn't sure if the show would be kid friendly, so, to Emma's disappointment, I didn't take her. We did go to the box office and leave a book for Mickey to sign though. He signed it for Emma,on the picture she had asked that he sign,from her favourite Mickey movie, "Strike Up the Band".

Mickey Rooney was born Joe Yule Jr., in 1920. His parents were actors and Mickey first appeared on stage as part of their act at the age of 17 months old. From there he never stopped.He appeared in his first movie in 1926, and the next year he was signed to star in the Mickey McGuire  series of shorts. He took the name Mickey McGuire for a while, later changing it to Mickey Rooney.
As Mickey McGuire. His hair was dyed black for the role, and apparently his eyebrows were drawn on as well!

  In 1937 Mickey appeared in the first Andy Hardy movie "A Family Affair". The movie was so popular it inspired a sequel, and another sequel...Eventually there were 15 Andy Hardy movies, and the character of Andy was beefed up into the central character due to his popularity.
The more experienced members of the cast must have felt like pushing Mickey overboard, as his character took over the series.

In 1938 Mickey was given a Juvenile Oscar, and soon after became the first teenager to be nominated for Best Actor for 1939's Babes in Arms.He was awarded an honorary Oscar for life achievement in 1983. Over the years he won many more awards, including a Golden Globe and an Emmy.

Looks like Mickey never lost his Juvenile Oscar! (See my Oscar Week post on Judy Garland.) It's the short guy.front left.
  Mickey was the top box office draw for 1939, 1940, and 1941. He was, as Dana Carvey would say in his impersonation of Mickey, "the biggest star in the world!".

  Mickey was really one of those people for whom I could use my Dad's phrase "He could do anything". He was equally adept at comedy or drama.He could do wild physical comedy, or make the tears pour. He was a talented musician.When you saw Mickey in a movie playing the banjo, the drums, the piano,or even the xylophone, he was really playing them. Apparently he even wrote a symphony, which he performed on the piano at Roosevelt's 1941 inauguration Gala.He was a talented singer and dancer.He wrote a novel and a couple of autobiographies.(When you live as long as he did, you have lots to write about!) He had three TV series, and appeared in over 300 movies. He was a working actor for over 90 years.Somebody beat that.
  We will miss you Mickey.

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