Friday, September 23, 2011

Happy Birthday Mickey Rooney!

Rooney,  born Joseph Yule Jr in 1920, was brought into the life of theater and vaudeville almost from birth. Bot h his parents were vaudevillians, and from his first on stage appearance from the age of 17 months starting in an act with his parents  Rooney has one of the longest careers in history.

Moving to Hollywood in 1925 after a series of small bit parts, Yule Jr  finally landed a regular role in the series Mickey McGuire. After 78 episodes over a decade,  The name was associated with him, however a comic strip the series was based on sued for rights to the name, even with the Yules legally changing their name to McGuire to avoid the copyright issues. The comic strip won and it was suggested he change his name. in 1932, Mickey Rooney emerged.

1937 brought Rooney's first Andy Hardy role  in A Family Affair. After 12 more Hardy movies and a string of musicals with Garland they were one of the most successful song and dance duos of their time.

"Judy and I were so close we could've come from the same womb. We weren't like brothers or sisters but there was no love affair there; there was more than a love affair. It's very, very difficult to explain the depths of our love for each other. It was so special. It was a forever love. Judy, as we speak, has not passed away. She's always with me in every heartbeat of my body."

Rooney entered WW2 in 1944 and served for almost 2 years.  Upon return he found his movie career had stalled -  He made one last Andy Hardy movie, did a radio show based on the series, and then turned to TV, successfully making the transition by the late 50's with shows like The Investigators and Mickey.

Through hundreds of movies, 8 marriages,  numerous awards, and almost a century long career,  Mickey Rooney is one of the last living stars of the golden age of Hollywood. National Velvet, Boys Town, Mad Mad World, Rooney has always been a great entertainer with a mischievous glint in his eye and a knack for making you like him. In movies as recent as this year (The Muppets) Rooney is truly a living legend.  Happy Birthday to one of the greats!

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