Sadly, the passing of movie legend Mickey Rooney (on April 6th) truly brought the end to an era. Born Joseph Yule Jr. the Mick, all 5' 2" of him, was really the last of the genuine "movie stars" from Hollywood's golden age. He had, without a doubt, one of the most amazing career runs in the history of show business. Mickey kept coming back and entertaining us again and again.
His films numbered 340. Yes, you read that right, 340 movie credits, according to IMDb.
Of course, the Andy Hardy films (16 of them) and his legendary MGM musicals (with his beloved co-star Judy Garland) were his personal trademarks, but the Mick also had unforgettable roles in A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935), Captains Courageous (1937), Boys Town (1938), Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), The Black Stallion (1981) and on and on.
Okay, let's take a look at a few facts you may not know about Mickey Rooney.
* He helped bring Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe together. In 1952, Joe and Marilyn were set up (at DiMaggio's request, after seeing the young starlet's photo) on a date. The date was dullsville and was dragging along, when Mickey, who happened to be dining in the same restaurant, spotted DiMaggio and (like any guy) started fawning over him, regaling Marilyn with stories of his baseball exploits and records. Marilyn was not a sports fan at all, but she had done a movie with Mickey just two years previously, The Fireball (1950). When she saw Mickey's awed reaction to DiMaggio, her interest immediately perked up and the date heated up too. Joe and Marilyn soon became an item and were married less than two years later.
* He was the first choice to play the role of Archie Bunker on All in the Family. When he met with producer Norman Lear about the role, he was told that Archie was "a bigot and a racist.” He replied, “‘They'll kill me in the streets,’ and turned me down flat,” according to Lear.
* He was a World War II veteran and was decorated by General Patton. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and other decorations.
* He originally came to Hollywood to audition for the Our Gang series (later The Little Rascals). He didn't pass the audition.
* Mickey was the number one box office movie star three years in a row. From 1939 to 1941, Mickey sold more tickets at the box office than Clark Gable, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Humphrey Bogart, Errol Flynn, Tyrone Power and Mae West.
* He made his first movie in 1927 (Mickey's Circus -a silent) and his most recent film was filming in 2014 (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde- not yet released). This gives him a record 87-year career as a movie actor, the longest cinema career of all time.
* He claimed the cartoon character Mickey Mouse was named after him. He said in his autobiography that he met Walt Disney when he was a child and Disney asked him what he thought of his drawings. then Walt asked him his name- the rest was history. (This story was later proved false.)
* In his memoirs, Mickey also claimed Groucho Marx once took him to "the T&T studio,” a house of ill repute where the girls were look-a-likes for Hollywood starlets.
* He was married 8 times. The longest of his marriages lasted 36 years. It was to his last and current wife, Jan Chamberlain (the two were, however, estranged). His most brief marriage was his 100 days to Marge Day in 1966.
* Mickey had 9 children. His son, Teddy, also an actor, appeared with him in the final Andy Hardy film Andy Hardy Comes Home in 1958. He played (who else?) Andy Hardy Jr.
* Was #7 in the world poker tour invitational, even though he had never played Texas hold 'em poker before in his life.
* At age 19, Mickey the first teenager to be nominated for an Academy Award in a lead role for Babes in Arms in 1939.
* He was payed a salary of $5,000 to appear in the movie How to Stuff a Wild Bikini in 1965.
* Mickey is the only actor in history to appear in at least one film for 10 consecutive decades.
* He was nominated for four Academy Awards. Although he never won for any of these nominations, in 1938, he was awarded a special “Juvenile Oscar" and he was also awarded an honorary Academy Award in 1983. He won an Emmy and a Golden Globe Award in 1981 for his performance in the TV movie Bill.
* He went on a promotional tour for a movie he never appeared in. it is believed he is the only movie performer to have done this. in 1939, he participated in the promotional tour for The Wizard of Oz with his close friend, Judy Garland.
* He attended the public memorial service for Michael Jackson in Los Angeles in 2009.
* He was the last surviving actor to have appeared in silent films.
* Said he had 12 hobbies: reading the Bible, watching classic movies, football, dancing, swimming, praying, golfing, traveling, horse racing, spending time with the family, listening to music and singing.
* In 2011, Mickey testified before the U.S. Senate regarding elder abuse. In his heart-wrenching testimony, Mickey asked the Senate for protection and revealed how his stepson and his wife had withheld such basic necessities as food and medicine from him, while draining him financially.