Mickey Rooney had so many careers that it’s easy to lose track.
He broke out in MGM’s Andy Hardy movies in the ’30s and 40s, teaming with the likes of Judy Garland. He became a character actor and made a mark in films such as “National Velvet” through “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (an infamous turn, playing the Japanese neighbor as a broad, screeching stereotype, and doing it with gusto). He played jockeys and mobsters, soldiers and song and dance men. He was in “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World.” He had a TV series in the ’60s, a “comeback” in “Bill” in the ’80s. He toured with “Sugar Babies” with Ann Miller well past most people’s retirement age.
I caught up with him a couple of times, talking about a small role in “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” and later, touring with a one-man show of some sort. He was very much Dana Carvey’s impersonation of him by that time — hard to keep on topic, determined to sell a line of food products he was hoping to launch — “MR Popcorn, M.R. Popcorn, get it? For Mickey Rooney?”
He went through more careers, more money (he gambled, and drank, and married – often) and more women and wives than anybody, a small man who lived large and turned up in over 340 films and TV episodes. And he died at 93. Well done.