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April 7, 2014

MICKEY ROONEY LEAVES US AT AGE 93

Mickey's series of 'backyard musical' films with Judy Garland are all classics. They gave Rooney the perfect opportunity to sing, dance, act and play comedy. (c) MGM

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Born Joseph Yule, Jr. in 1920, Mickey Rooney passed away yesterday, April 6, 2014 at the age of 93.

Spanning an incredible career of over 9 decades, Rooney was one of the last remaining links of Old Hollywood. So much could be written about his personal and professional life to fill several volumes.

 

Mickey's series of 'backyard musical' films with Judy Garland are all classics. They gave Rooney the perfect opportunity to sing, dance, act and play comedy. (c) MGM

Mickey’s series of ‘backyard musical’ films with Judy Garland are all classics. They gave Rooney the perfect opportunity to sing, dance, act and play comedy. (c) MGM

 

 

MGM carefully crafted Rooney's 'boy-next-door' image.

MGM carefully crafted Rooney’s ‘boy-next-door’ image.

 

He was the top box-office star for years, scoring ahead of such contemporaries as Gable, Bogart and Cagney. He was noted for his many marriages–eight of them–and his resilience to keep coming back, setback after setback.

 

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I met him one time in the early 1980s. He had reinvented himself once again and was appearing in the hit musical play, Sugar Babies, which co-stared fellow MGM-alumnus, Ann Miller.

 

Rooney poses with 'Sugar Babies' co-star Ann Miller, and fellow-theatre legend Jose Ferrer. This is a bit of publicity promoting an upcoming Tony Award program. (c) CBS

Rooney poses with ‘Sugar Babies’ co-star Ann Miller, and fellow-theatre legend Jose Ferrer. This is a bit of publicity promoting an upcoming Tony Award program. (c) CBS

 

He and Miller brought the production to St. Louis and participated in a press conference for local media. Rooney was cranky and out of sorts that day. He was in the process of suing local TV stations for running old films and not paying the performers residuals, and he would speak to us press of little else.

Still, it was a true thrill to be in the presence of these two talented stars. Who would ever have thought Rooney would keep going for another 30 years!

 

Rooney's career resuscitated in the early 1980s with 'Sugar Babies' and his sitcom, 'One of the Boys'. Here's a still from the latter. Recognize Olympia Dukakis in an early role? (c) NBC

Rooney’s career resuscitated in the early 1980s with ‘Sugar Babies’ and his sitcom, ‘One of the Boys’. Here’s a still from the latter. Recognize Olympia Dukakis in an early role? (c) NBC

 

During this period of his career, Rooney was considered ‘hot’, and launched an NBC sitcom, One of the Boys. It was filmed in New York to accommodate his Sugar Babies schedule. His co-stars were comedians Dana Carvey and Nathan Lane.

 

Mickey and young Danny Lance, from the 1981 TV-film, 'Leave 'Em Laughing'. (c) CBS

Mickey and young Danny Lance, from the 1981 TV-film, ‘Leave ‘Em Laughing’. (c) CBS

Carvey enjoyed good-naturedly kidding Mickey in later years. Whenever anyone would ask Dana about his experience working with the great man, Carvey would launch into an exaggerated ‘old man voice’ and say … ‘I was the greatest star of all time…’

Well, he was right!!

 

Rooney earned great critical acclaim for his role in the Tv-film 'Bill'. In this movie, Mickey portrayed a mentally challenged man who had been institutionalized for over 45 years. (c) CBS

Rooney earned great critical acclaim for his role in the Tv-film ‘Bill’. In this movie, Mickey portrayed a mentally challenged man who had been institutionalized for over 45 years. (c) CBS

 

 

Rooney co-starred in a 1966 Italian-lensed film, 'Ths Devil in Love'. It was barely released in the U.S. (c) Warners

Rooney co-starred in a 1966 Italian-lensed film, ‘Ths Devil in Love’. It was barely released in the U.S. (c) Warners

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 






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