Mickey Rooney, the audience’s best friend


RooneyThis post is written in conjunction with the Summer Under the Stars Blogathon hosted by Sittin’ on a Backyard Fence and Scribe Hard on Film. Full listings for SUTS programming on Turner Classic Movies can be found HERE.

As far as I am concerned, he who is tired of Rooney is tired of life. I don’t know that I would personally enjoy the company of the boyishly energetic actor, but there is nothing in this world better at getting a person out of a bad funk than a good, healthy dose of an old-fashioned Mickey Rooney flick. Toss in a Judy Garland song and dance number and you can’t help but be grinning from ear to ear.

At 93 years of age, Mickey Rooney has been in the movie business for longer than any other actor, living or dead. He has co-starred with the most women, sung the most songs, danced the most dances. Although I am always pleased to see his face in more recent movies, like THE MUPPETS (2011) and NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM (2006), I will always love his old movies best.

“The audience and I are friends. They allowed me to grow up with them. I’ve let them down several times. They’ve let me down several times. But we’re all family.””I was a 13-year-old boy for 30 years.”

“I’m the only man in the world with a marriage license made out ‘To Whom It May Concern.'”

“I’m 74 but I feel like I’m 35. And it isn’t work. You know what it is? It’s fun, absolute fun. I don’t know many people who are fortunate enough to be in a business like that.” (http://www.mickeyrooney.com/quotes.html)

“You always pass failure on the way to success.”

“Had I been brighter, the ladies been gentler, the liquor weaker, the gods kinder, the dice hotter – it might have all ended up in a one-sentence story.” (Life is Too Short)

boys townMickey Rooney Must-See: BOYS TOWN (1938)

Father Flanagan (Spencer Tracy) establishes a town for delinquent and homeless boys. The boys govern the town themselves. Whitey Marsh rejects all that Boys Town can offer him, but he keeps coming back, first because he’s hungry, then when his young friend is hurt in an accident. Marsh comes to learn the meaning of brotherhood when he and all the boys of the town are caught up in his criminal older brother’s troubles.

“There is no such thing as a bad boy.” (Father Flanagan)

“I know that a mother can take a whip to the toughest boy in the world, and he forgets it because he knows that she loves him.” (Father Flanagan)

Tony Ponessa: If you’re a Catholic or a Protestant, you can go right on being one.
Whitey Marsh: Well, I’m nothin’.
Tony Ponessa: Then, you can go right on being nothin’, and nobody cares.

babes in armsMickey Rooney Might-See: BABES IN ARMS (1939)

My all-time favorite Rooney/Garland musical, directed by Busby Berkeley. When their show business parents go on the road without them, a group of young performers led by Mickey Moran (Rooney) and Patsy Barton (Judy Garland) decide to put together a show of their own.

“We belong in show business. We gotta start young so we can get some steel in our backbone. Well, gee, we’re developing. You couldn’t teach us a trade: we’ve GOT one. And you couldn’t do without it… Oh, we’re only kids now, but someday we’re gonna be the guys that make ya laugh and cry and think that there’s a little stardust left on life’s dirty old pan.”