I shook his hand and said what a pleasure it was to meet a such a film legend as him. Mickey asked me how old I was and when I said 'fifteen' he replied, "God, I remember when I was that age - it seems a million years ago!"
I met Mickey Rooney at Starcon, which was held in September 2006 at Kempton Park Racecourse. He was there with his wife, the singer and actress, Jan Chamberlain. Mickey signed a photograph for me (one of the fastest autographs I have ever seen!) and then I had my photograph taken with them both.
Mickey Rooney had a very productive association with Judy Garland after they appeared together in Thoroughbreds Don't Cry in 1937. They paired up as a 'song & dance' duo and made several other films including Babes In Arms (1939) and Strike Up the Band (1940).
In 1944, Rooney starred with Elizabeth Taylor in the famous film adaptation of Enid Bagnold's novel National Velvet, the story of a girl (Velvet Brown) and her attempt to win the Grand National Steeplechase with a horse that she won in a town lottery. Rooney plays Mi Taylor who helps to train Velvet's horse, Pie, for the race.
Jan met Mickey when she was dating his son Mickey jnr. They toured together in 2007 with their autobiographical, multi-media stage production Let's Put on a Show which recalls highlights of Mickey's long career.
In 1983, Rooney received a 'Lifetime Achievement' Oscar after 60 years as an actor, but his career is now over 80 years long, even surpassing that of Lillian Gish!
In Mickey Rooney's personal life, his marriages have also been prolific - 8 of them! The first was to actress Ava Gardner in 1942, and his other actress wives have included
The Mickey Rooney Show ran for 39 episodes on NBC TV in 1955, but the only film of real note that he made at this time was Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962). He had a supporting role in the comedy It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963) and appeared alongside some big names in this, including Spencer Tracy, Buster Keaton, Jimmy Durante, Sid Caesar and Ethel Merman. He made a triumphant stage debut in the late 1970s in the glitzy Broadway musical, Sugar Babies, and it was around this time he appeared in the film of which he is most proud The Black Stallion (1979) in which he plays racehorse trainer Henry Dailey. He later won widespread acclaim for his sensitive portrait of a retarded man in the TV drama Bill (1981). Altogether, Rooney has 307 entries in the IMDb filmography, with the latest being Driving Me Crazy, due for release in 2008.
Rooney joined the American army as a regular GI in 1944 and entertained the troops with his 'jeep shows'. However, after the war was over his popularity waned. Like other child actors, Rooney found it much more difficult in adult roles. He apeared again with Judy Garland in Words and Music (1948), but most of his parts were in second-rate films like Sound Off (1952), Down a Crooked Road (1954), The Atomic Kid (1954) and The Twinkle in God's Eye (1955). However, Rooney was regarded as a solid character actor after the war, particularly with his roles in Baby Face Nelson (1957) and Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961).
Mickey Rooney was born Joseph Yule in September 1920, in Brooklyn, New York. His American mother and Scottish father (also called Joseph Yule) were both vaudeville performers, and so it was not surprising that he too went on stage at the tender age of 15 months - crawling out on stage during his parents' vaudeville act!
His parents separated in 1924, when vaudeville was losing much of its popularity, and he and his mother moved to Hollywood. His first film part was as a midget in Not to be Trusted (1926)
During the early 1930s, Rooney had lots of other film credits playing boys, like Jimmy O'Hare in The Big Cage (1933), Freckles in The County Chairman (1935) and a memorable Puck in the 1935 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. He also played boy versions of adult characters in many films, like 'Otto Peterson as a child' in The World Changes (1933).
Mickey is also an accomplished musician and can play almost every instrument in an orchestra. As a member of ASCAP, Mickey has composed many pop songs, a symphony and several film scores.
Jan is a singer, Actress, songwriter and abstract artist. Rooney has three different stars on The Hollywood Walk of Fame, and in 2004, he received a fourth star jointly with Jan for their achievement in live entertainment.
A year later, as a 7 year old, he auditioned for, and got, the part of 'Mickey McGuire' in a series of short, silent comedy films based on a popular newspaper cartoon 'Toonerville Trolley'. He featured in around 70 of these films from 1927 to 1936, when the last of them, Mickey's Derby Day, was made. Joseph adopted 'Mickey' as his name whilst making these films but changed his mother's jokey suggestion of 'Mickey Looney' to Mickey Rooney, by which he has been known ever since.
Box office receipts for 1938-1940 made Rooney the No.1 star in the world! In 1939, he received a special Academy Award for the film Boys Town with Spencer Tracy.
Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney,Shirley Temple
Strike Up the Band (1940)
Mickey Rooney & Judy Garland
Spencer Tracy & Mickey Rooney in Boys Town
Mickey Rooney & Judy Garland
Babes in Arms (1939)
Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938)
Mickey Rooney as Mickey McGuire
Mickey Rooney & Olivia de Havilland in
A Midsummer Night's Dream
My Pal, the King (1932)
Tom Mix & Mickey Rooney in
Mickey Rooney in The Beast of the City
Babes in Arms (1939)
National Velvet starred Mickey Rooney and Elizabeth Taylor
Mickey Rooney with 3rd wife Martha Vickers
Film poster for The Black Stallion
Mickey with his son Mickey Rooney Jr.
Bill Cobbs & Mickey Rooney in Night at the Museum
Mickey Rooney signed this photo for me in September 2006
Milton Berle, Sid Caesar & Mickey Rooney in
It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World
Another famous Rooney character was that of Andrew 'Andy' Hardy, the teenage son of a judge. It began with A Family Affair in 1937 and went on until Love Laughs at Andy Hardy in 1946. The character even appears for a final time in 1958 in Andy Hardy Comes Home with Mickey's son Teddy taking the part of Andy Hardy junior.
Joseph Yule jr.
Mickey Rooney & Ava Gardner
Mickey Rooney with his
'Lifetime Achievment' Oscar
included Martha Vickers, Elaine Devry and Carolyn Mitchell. These marriages were mostly short lived, and some were shrouded in scandal, however he has been married to his present wife, Jan Chamberlain for 29 years, longer than the other seven combined!
Don't forget to visit Jessie Heuer's Mickey Rooney Fan Club website (see links)
Masses of information and loads of images. It is awesome!!
Click on a name below to take you to that page
Mickey Rooney (1920 - 2014)
Mickey Rooney died on 6th April 2014.