It’s almost impossible to believe Mickey Rooney is gone.
Even at 93 he was everywhere. A Hollywood fixture, as well as a legend. We last saw photos of him sharing laughs with Bruce Dern and Martin Landau at the Vanity Fair party following the Oscars just last month. In fact I often saw him around during Oscar season at many different events including Disney’s memorable Mary Poppins sing-a-long event in December with Richard Sherman at the Beverly Hills Hotel Polo Lounge in honor of their film, Saving Mr. Banks. He was one of the oldest active Academy members. And he was still working. With a film career that started in 1926 and going right through to the currently filming Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde, his span in front of movie cameras went 87 years — the longest active career of anyone in motion picture history. And every time I saw him it was almost as if he never stopped being Andy Hardy or any number of those characters he played in films so long ago opposite Judy Garland, Elizabeth Taylor, Lana Turner, Lassie and others. He started young at age 17 months in his parents’ vaudeville act, and he never lost that youthful kick in his step.
Related: R.I.P. Mickey Rooney
What Rooney, who died Sunday at the age of 93, accomplished simply won’t be repeated. In 1939, the year of Gone With The Wind and The Wizard Of Oz among others, he was the No. 1 box office draw in the world. He was on the cover of Time magazine at age 20. He may have been short in stature but he was bigger than anyone including that other famous Mickey — Mouse. That same year he shared a juvenile Oscar (a miniature one) with Deanna Durbin for their “contribution in bringing to the screen the spirit and personification of youth, and as juvenile players setting a high standard of ability and achievement.” Durbin had just passed Shirley Temple as a box office draw. She died last year and we also lost Temple earlier this year. Now with Rooney, an era has truly gone with that wind. (more…)