Mickey Rooney Memories

472px-Mickey_Rooney_stillThough he wasn’t among the movie stars I interviewed over the years, I feel as though I lost a buddy when I learned that Mickey Rooney died.  That’s because I saw his Andy Hardy movies when they were first-run.  The first one, A Family Affair,  was shot in 1937.  Mickey was 17-years-old, and  I was 6 at the time.  There was no question about it. When an Andy Hardy movie  played between 1937 and 1946,  somebody in my family – sometimes my mom and dad took me, but there were others when either my older sister Betty or Brother Elbert would take me – and I went to  see it.

Judy Garland not only starred with him in three of the fourteen Andy Hardy films, but in some smash hit musicals.  They were never reported as being romantically involved, but Mickey said their love ran deeper than that.  Maybe that’s why they played so well in movies together.

Those movies catapulted him to  being the top box-office draw in 1939. Time magazine put his face on the cover of a 1940 edition, saying, according to Wikipedia, “Hollywood’s No. 1 box office bait in 1939 was not Clark Gable, Errol Flynn or Tyrone Power, but a rope-haired, kazoo-voiced kid with a comic-strip face, who until this week had never appeared in a picture without mugging or overacting it. His name (assumed) was Mickey Rooney, and to a large part of the more articulate U. S. cinema audience, his name was becoming a frequently used synonym for brat.”

He proved he could also act in a serious role,  starring as “Young Tom Edison” for MGM in 1940.  He won a bunch of awards over the years, including a Jspecial juvenile Academy Award when the Academy was giving those and a Honoirary Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and a few Emmys.

He continued to work in movies, radio  and TV right up until his death, April 6, 2014.  He was married 8 times.  He was surrounded by his family when he died in North Hollywood, Los Angeles, California.  He was survived by his wife of 37 years,  Jan Chamberlain, eight surviving children, nineteen grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.  He was 93-years-old.  As Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley sang, he did his way.  He did it very well “his way.

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