Final curtain call for a legend
World has lost an enduring star
But chance meeting will be remembered
By SHIRLEY BROUN
IT IS all over the news around the world. One of Hollywood’s biggest stars Mickey Rooney has died aged 93. And do you know I think that is how the star would have liked it … a fanfare befitting his amazing career that spanned virtually his whole life.
He was one of the very few remaining stars of that truly golden era of movies in Hollywood circa 1930s and 40s when musicals and dancing featured prominently on the big screen. It was even pre television … how very different life is today!
But think of it … silent movies were still being made when Mickey rocked onto the scene as a babe in arms. He made his first appearance in a film in 1926 and a year later took the leading role in the short film Mickey McGuire. It was from this character that the name Mickey Rooney, originally born Joe Yule Jr, was conceived.
Then came his highly successful role as the all-American teenager Andy Hardy in the original `A Family Affair’ in 1937 which was so successful it took the young Rooney right to the top at the box office. He made 20 films as Andy Hardy and won a juvenile Academy Award.
In 1939 he teamed up with Judy Garland in a string of musicals and the pair became life-long friends. Many will also remember Rooney in the classic National Velvet (1944) alongside Elizabeth Taylor. There were so many films to follow including Words and Music (1948), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962), The Black Stallion (1979) to name but a few of his outstanding performances. Rooney appeared in over 200 films throughout his career and won two Academy Awards.
He may have only been 1.57m tall but he was an absolute giant in the world of entertainment.
I only met Mickey Rooney for a brief time when he appeared at Twin Towns Services Club, Tweed Heads, during his Australian tour in the 90s. I remember having a long chat to one of his sons who had accompanied him on the tour and thinking he actually looked a lot like his famous dad.
However the thrill of speaking to the star himself was just like being transported back to my childhood when I would sit in front of the television and watch all those early movies that featured a young Mickey Rooney and his `best friend’ Judy Garland singing and dancing. In the movies he always seemed to be in a frenzy, rushing off to save the day or hatching a plan to put things right which usually involved producing a show as a fundraiser featuring himself and Judy Garland. Simple plots but the audiences loved them!
On this occasion, I’m pleased to report, I was able to sit down as a captive audience and listen to his many stories of days gone by which he loved to tell. It was during this visit to the Gold Coast that I also discovered Mickey had a love for horse racing as one of his requests was to travel to Brisbane to see them in action.
OK Mickey was a little bit older by the time our paths crossed … close to 70 years old if I recall correctly … but one of the things I remember most about him was his infectious laughter and supreme confidence. He loved to entertain people and there was nothing more special to him than hearing the deafening applause that inevitably followed each of his performances.
Mickey Rooney gave his all to entertainment and although his outstanding era of live performance has now come to a close, he has left a legacy that will live on for all time.
I feel so fortunately to have met and shared such wonderful memories with him. RIP.
Statement from Mickey Rooney’s Family
The following statement from Mickey Rooney’s family was published on their official website:
“Mickey passed away from natural causes at the age of 93. Two years ago he requested through the Superior Court to permanently reside with his son Mark Rooney and Mark’s wife Charlene. With them he finally found happiness, health and a feeling of safety and was able to enjoy life again.
In an effort to provide Mickey with a better life, Mark and Charlene reunited him with both old and new friends.
Even someone of Mickey’s iconic statue was quite star struck and was extremely thrilled to attend Vanity Fair’s Oscar party recently.
Just last week Mickey was ecstatic when they surprised him by reuniting him with one of his great loves … the race track. There they spent time with Mel Brooks and Dick Van Patten. He had exceptional care and a new lease on life.
Recently, Mickey was proud to be part of Night at the Museum 3 with Ben Stiller. He had the time of his life and the utmost respect for the cast and crew.
Mickey was finally enjoying life as a bachelor and the morning of his death they spoke of all their future plans. He loved the business he was in and had a great respect for his fellow actors. He led a full life but did not have enough time to finish all he had planned to do.”Tweet