Nov 20, 2019
No More Vaudeville For Mickey Rooney, Dead At Age 93
Mickey Rooney passed away yesterday at age 93, and we argued over who would have to write a Mickey Rooney obituary, because how do you cover a career that spanned eight decades in just one obit? We are not the New York Times, for crying out loud.
It’s staggering to think about how long Rooney was around, and how many touchstones came from his career. He was on stage doing vaudeville routines back in the 1920s, an impossibly long time ago.
After that, he was America’s favorite teenager for longer than many people have careers, doing 13 films as Andy Hardy from 1937 to 1946, while also too serving in World War II during that stretch.
Side note: it’s heartbreaking to look at that endless gorgeous run of movies with Rooney and Judy Garland and not be utterly shellshocked over the fact that Garland has been gone 45 years.
Rooney gave bloggers and other pop culture referencing denizens the invaluable “let’s put on a show” trope, which you will probably see far too much of today.
For a lot of us, Rooney destroyed a lot of that childhood goodwill with his breathtakingly racist turn as Mr. Yunisoshi in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which is why we’re not linking it here. You deserve to remember the good times.
At age 60, a time when we plan on being well-retired (haha that is not true because we are bloggers and will have no money), Rooney made his Broadway debut — DEBUT, PEOPLE — in Sugar Babies, a burlesque tribute/revue that ran 1200 performance over three years. Hell, we aren’t planning on doing something that ambitious well before age 60.
In the thirty years since then, Rooney managed to do close to an appearance a year in some movie or teevee show, which is a hell of a run, even if you’re basically just playing Mickey Rooney by that point.
Also, he had seven marriages. Seven! Including one to Ava Gardner a decade before she married Sinatra, which was probably cause for bragging rights in old Hollywood forever.
Only one month before his death, Rooney attended Graydon Carter’s Vanity Fair Oscar Party, which is probably a pretty great last party to attend.
Rest in peace, Mickey Rooney. You’ve earned the break.