TCM Honors Mickey Rooney this Month for Good Reason

Mickey Rooney and his wife Jan

  Like just about every kid, when child star Mickey Rooney’s name went up on a movie theater marquee, I asked my mom for ten cents to buy a ticket. That’s right. When I was a small boy kids tickets were a dime.  The request was usually unnecessary, because adults loved Mickey Rooney movies, also, so the whole family went.

Mickey, who is 90, is being featured as the Turner Classic Movies Star of the Month.  It became clear to me as I watched some of his early movies why he was so popular.  In an early movie where he played a supporting role, every time he would appear in a scene he would steal it. Children usually do; however in his case, it was more than that. He was the best actor in the scene. Back in the 30s, a lot of acting was overboard, not natural, but Mickey, even when very young,  possessed a natural, believable style.

He was usually comic relief, but even at that, his characters were believable.  His Andy Hardy movies, especially the ones with Judy Garland, were smash hits. But, he could also win hearts playing serious roles in movies like “The Human Comedy,”  “National Velvet” with Elizabeth Tayler, and “Boys Town” with Spencer Tracy. Mickey Rooney was top box office draw,  topping “the king” Clark Gable, in 1939, 1940, and 1941. 

He also gives some other stars famous for multiple marriages a run for the money. He has been married eight times. The last one stuck. He and Jan have been married for more than 30 years.

After the heydays of the 30s and 40s, when he was no longer a juvenile actor, he managed to make more movies, appear in plays, and on TV, but his best days were when he was a kid. Fortunately, those classics are still around and thanks to Turner Classic Movies, you can see why he won an Academy Juvenile Award in 1938, and was given an Academy Honorary Award for lifetime achievement in 1983.


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