Monday, April 7, 2014

Mickey Rooney

Mickey Rooney's life read like a B movie: fame and fortune far too young with far too little understanding, followed by wild excesses and extreme poverty and a final act of redemption. As a script it would have undoubtedly been rejected.

He will forever be linked with Judy Garland, two hugely talented young performers who struggled to deal with the realities of life once the director yelled "cut". Theirs was a partnership born in a very different moment in time in the film industry and in our culture. On the heels of the Great Depression and on the eve of war,  we were a country less cynical and more willing to embrace the promise of hope. Rooney and Garland captured this with a spark of the spirit and the twinkle of the eye.

And one other item caught my attention as I read the NY Times piece on the life of Mr. Rooney: how hard working an actor he was at the height of his stardom. We have grown accustomed to our biggest stars appearing before us for a brief moment and then disappearing into the night. Not so in the days when there were contracts with studios and even a Mickey Rooney had a clock to punch and a job to go to every day.

He was a little man of big stature, and though his star certainly faded over the years, he will hopefully be remembered kindly by history as something more than a meteor who shined for a moment and then burnt out.

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