I wish that Mickey Rooney had lived long enough to have a role in the Watt O’Hugh movie. But then he’d have to live forever. And I wish he could have lived forever.
When my kids were little, he was one of their favorite actors, mostly from “Bill”, but also the Black Stallion, and they thought he was funny in Andy Hardy and Pete’s Dragon. They found it very hard to believe that all these guys were the same person. When he showed up briefly in The Muppets, they shouted, “Bill!” About a year and half ago, I was watching an Andy Hardy movie with them, and there was a scene with Mickey Rooney, Esther Williams and Ann Rutherford (as long-suffering and long-tormenting girlfriend, Polly). They all radiated youthful energy (and Esther radiated something else too). I googled Esther Williams and Ann Rutherford, and I was really overjoyed to realize that, along with Mickey, they were all still alive. Now, such a short time later, they are all gone. Really, probably the last three of the 1930s stars. Who’s left? Anyway, I loved Mickey Rooney, I watched his 1980s sitcom every week (in which he co-starred with Dana Carvey, Nathan Lane, Scatman Crothers and Meg Ryan!!!) and I forgive him for Breakfast at Tiffany’s. He won an Emmy for The Comedian, an absolutely brutal live TV play written by either Rod Serling or Paddy Chayefsky way back in the 1950s, in which he played a horrifyingly sadistic TV show host, a monster in real life, a lovable imp on his show, a brave and incredible shredding of his image.
When I interviewed Marianne Sagebrecht, the zaftig German actress, in the early 1990s for a great film called Martha and I, she told me that her next role was in a film called The Milky Way, with Mickey Rooney as an old man whose last wish is to be a baby again. So he hires a wet nurse. She retrieved photos from somewhere, of topless Marianne suckling a diaper-clad Mickey. What other famous octogenarian actor would do such a thing? No one, that’s who.
He was not only a cornball, but also a great actor. And, apparently, a cowboy. RIP. Every day that Mickey Rooney is not in this world is a less happy day.
(Picture courtesy Westernpunk – The Weird, Wicked and Wild West.)