Mickey Rooney.  Too manic for Frank.  Very Talented for Joe. He’s been working in Show Business for over 90 years!

He has an honorary Oscar for his work in “Boy’s Town,” and has been nominated for Oscars three times. And, he still keeps working. (His best known mainstream commercial picture of the last few years was 2006’s “Night At The Museum,” starring Ben Stiller.)

Morella and Segers here again to muse about the phenomenon that is Mickey Rooney. Frank took some potshots in a yesterday’s blog.  Now its time for some Rooney compliments from Joe.  Who’s right?  Let us know what YOU think.

Joe loves Rooney’s impersonations of Gable, Lionel  Barrymore and Carmen Miranda performed in the Mickey/Judy Garland hit films, “Babes in Arms,” (an Oscar Nomination) “Babes on Broadway,” and “Strike Up the Band.”  Mickey and Judy (pictured together in yesterday’s photo) were great together on screen and in LIVE performances. After 1943’s  musical “Girl Crazy” they both went on to more dramatic work.

Rooney was superb in “The Human Comedy,” (pictured above) the William Saroyan story about a telegraph delivery boy in a small town having to deliver bad news to families during World War II. It  garnered him his second Academy Award Nomination.

He was also excellent in “National Velvet,” the charming MGM horse drama featuring a very young Elizabeth Taylor. Rooney played the talented horse trainer who propells Taylor into an equestrian championship.

The picture’s charm was enhanced inadvertently by comparison with MGM’s unfortunate 1978 remake, “International Velvet,” starring Tatum O’Neal sporting a fake English accent. (An aside:  Frank recalls visiting the set of the remake, and getting into an altercation with cast member Anthony Hopkins.  He’ll thankfully save the details of that encounter for another blog.)

Back to Mickey Rooney.  His career hit a rough patch after he served in the Army (mostly entertaining troops) and returned to Hollywood.  He was too old for Andy Hardy roles and at 5-feet-2 hardly the leading man type.

He entered radio and then television, but continued making films and hit his stride as a character actor with 1962’s boxing drama “Requium for a Heavyweight.”

Whatever our differences about his merits as an actor, we both salute the amazing durability of Mickey Rooney.


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