Skip to content

The Life and Times of Mickey Rooney

Authored by Richard A. Lertzman and William J. Birnes. Released by Gallery Books.

the-life-and-times-of-mickey-rooney

Having finally put down this recent release encompassing much of Mickey’s private and professional life I’m tempted to throw a few subtitles out there for it’s eventual release in soft cover.

How about…….. “The proper way to repeatedly lose untold millions over 90 plus years.”

“The Mick” is one of those actors that up until his recent death is a personality that has always “been there” in my life. I’d see him on afternoon television when I was a kid in black and white features from the thirties that Mom might be watching like the Andy Hardy flicks or Boys Town. She’d try to get me watching the color extravaganzas with Judy Garland as the two moved to the music, singing and dancing. “No thanks, Mom. How about a western.”

mickey-rooney-02

I know for a fact the family went off to see Pete’s Dragon at the theater and sure enough there he was again in the late 70’s. Late night TV brought me into contact with arguably the best of comedies, It’s a Mad World. Mick along with Buddy Hackett is just hilarious.

“Ah, this is hopeless. We’re gonna get no place if we’re gonna continue listening to this old bag. ”

Its_a_Mad,_Mad,_Mad,_Mad_World_Trailer1

I’m also thinking I saw his return to form in The Black Stallion during it’s initial theatrical run. Though I haven’t seen anything other then his appearance in those Museum flicks of late, he’s just always been around. He’s been a constant in the world of movies and entertainment as a whole.

This bio begins where it should, in the world of vaudeville when Mickey was a two year old and being raised under the bright lights and quickly becoming a child performer. With the advent of the Little Rascals, Mickey became known as Mickey McGuire. Star of his own series of shorts to compete with Spanky and the gang.

I had no idea that at one point Mickey was under contract to Universal Studios before signing with Mr. Mayer and becoming the world’s number one box office draw for MGM. The Andy Hardy years proved extremely successful for Mickey though it was Mayer who reaped the financial rewards.

Then along came Ava Gardner and Mickey’s world seemed to spiral out of control as he got caught up in the marriage go round for the first of eight walks to the altar. Of his eight marriages, I had no idea that one of his wives was the victim of a murder – suicide nightmare in the sixties.

mickey and ava

As many “ups” as there are in Mickey’s story, there seems to be a whole lot more downs. The fall from grace after leaving MGM is well documented and the on going struggle for money and to a certain degree, irresponsibly losing it through bad business decisions, ex-wives and sadly an addiction to drugs and gambling that seemed to go unchecked most of his life.

As a film fan, I have to admit I much prefer the trivia surrounding Mickey’s many films both during the golden era and his character parts in the many films of the fifties and sixties (The Bridges at Toko Ri) as opposed to his personal demons and run ins with bill collectors and bookies. Not to mention the many folks it seemed that rode Mickey for all he was worth for their own gain.

I also think I much prefer the on screen Mickey personality as opposed to the private one described within the pages of this detailed examination of Mick’s life. It seems that if Mickey wasn’t performing he could be a bit of a jerk. Irresponsible, a runaway Dad and rather rude to many of his fans. Publicly I like the Mickey I see on the screen, privately I don’t think I’d have gotten along with the pint sized fireball.

mickey-rooney elderly

Not sorry I read this bio that does it’s best to unveil the Mickey behind the scenes but somehow wish it was more in line with a “films of” book that focused squarely on his cinematic career covering the many roles that Mick undertook in an astounding 90 year career.

3 Comments »

  1. I know what you mean! I was recently thinking about reading about Mickey Rooney, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to learn quite so much about his personal life. On the screen, he seems a man of extraordinary talent and like you, my favorite part of bios is always the film trivia. I do really want to learn about his time in the movies, but it sounds like they spend a lot of time on his private life in this one. Hmm…I’m still going back and forth on this one.

    Thanks for a great review!

    • While I do prefer the focus shifted to the film careers in general, there is plenty of that in here but sadly I came away thinking I don’t like what’s behind the public image very much. Considering his amazing talents, that’s too bad. I doubt if there will be a more complete book on Mick coming along so you might want to give it a try.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

"DESTROY ALL FANBOYS!"

Smashing System Bias Since 1972...

Movies ala Mark

With a Cast of Thousands

Classic Horrors

From silent screen to Halloween, and everything scary in between.

Just Hit Play

The Good, the Bad and sometimes Ugly in film

Strother Martin Film Project

What we've got here is failure to communicate

Sophia Riley Kobacker

it's all about the story, possums...

Wolfmans Cult Film

Cult, B-Movies, cheesy fun films to Film Noir to classics new to me.

Talking Pulp

All things pulp and then some

cinema cities

a personal odyssey through film

Mark David Welsh

Watching the strangest movies - so you don't have to...

Film Speech

All things film and television

Diary of A Movie Maniac

A Personal Journey Through Cinema & Television

portraitsbyjenni

My perspective on life & Classic Movie Recommendations

Statis Pro 1978 Replay

Methodically replaying every game of the 1978 baseball season!

4 Star Films

Looking Deeper at The Best Classic Movies

everythingnoir

Movies, Television, Books....Everything Noir

Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

by John Bengtson "the great detective of silent film locations" New York Times

Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

Silent-ology

Uncovering the silent era

The Canadian Cinephile

“Film lovers are sick people.” ― François Truffaut

Noirish

The annex to John Grant's *A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir*

Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Sunset Boulevard

Writings of a Cinephile

The Bogie Film Blog

A Film by Film Affair with Humphrey Bogart

Vienna's Classic Hollywood

Vintage Hollywood films and stars

The Film Authority

You're ten seconds from watching an amazing film...

Once upon a screen...

...a classic film and TV blog

shadowsandsatin

. . where the worlds of film noir and pre-code collide . .

Alfred Hitchcock Master

Where Suspense Lives!

Tipping My Fedora

Enjoying mystery, crime and suspense in all media

Silver Screenings

Ruth's Old Movie Reviews

monsterminions

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

Comet Over Hollywood

Home for classic movie lovers

filmgeek101

classic movie views for the classic and not-so-classic movie fan

Riding the High Country

Reviews and ramblings

Speakeasy

movies galore

"DESTROY ALL FANBOYS!"

Smashing System Bias Since 1972...

Movies ala Mark

With a Cast of Thousands

Classic Horrors

From silent screen to Halloween, and everything scary in between.

Just Hit Play

The Good, the Bad and sometimes Ugly in film

Strother Martin Film Project

What we've got here is failure to communicate

Sophia Riley Kobacker

it's all about the story, possums...

Wolfmans Cult Film

Cult, B-Movies, cheesy fun films to Film Noir to classics new to me.

Talking Pulp

All things pulp and then some

cinema cities

a personal odyssey through film

Mark David Welsh

Watching the strangest movies - so you don't have to...

Film Speech

All things film and television

Diary of A Movie Maniac

A Personal Journey Through Cinema & Television

portraitsbyjenni

My perspective on life & Classic Movie Recommendations

Statis Pro 1978 Replay

Methodically replaying every game of the 1978 baseball season!

4 Star Films

Looking Deeper at The Best Classic Movies

everythingnoir

Movies, Television, Books....Everything Noir

Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

by John Bengtson "the great detective of silent film locations" New York Times

Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

Silent-ology

Uncovering the silent era

The Canadian Cinephile

“Film lovers are sick people.” ― François Truffaut

Noirish

The annex to John Grant's *A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir*

Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Sunset Boulevard

Writings of a Cinephile

The Bogie Film Blog

A Film by Film Affair with Humphrey Bogart

Vienna's Classic Hollywood

Vintage Hollywood films and stars

The Film Authority

You're ten seconds from watching an amazing film...

Once upon a screen...

...a classic film and TV blog

shadowsandsatin

. . where the worlds of film noir and pre-code collide . .

Alfred Hitchcock Master

Where Suspense Lives!

Tipping My Fedora

Enjoying mystery, crime and suspense in all media

Silver Screenings

Ruth's Old Movie Reviews

monsterminions

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

Comet Over Hollywood

Home for classic movie lovers

filmgeek101

classic movie views for the classic and not-so-classic movie fan

Riding the High Country

Reviews and ramblings

Speakeasy

movies galore

%d bloggers like this: