Mickey Rooney

Mickey Rooney Mickey Rooney in a press photo

Born to vaudeville parents in Brooklyn, “the Mick” stole their act at the age of only two. He became the first teenager nominated for an Oscar and had an 88 year career in professional acting.

Mickey Rooney loved Indian food, even though he can’t quite remember what anything is called, but he had no trouble ordering for himself as a regular at Bob’s Big Boy Burbank.

Mickey playing girl-crazy teenager Andy Hardy

Laurence Olivier called him "the greatest actor of them all." Marlon Brando, "The best actor in films." It’s been said Hollywood could never make a biopic about Rooney because nobody would be able to play him. He could sing, he could act, he could dance. He learned to play the banjo in a day. He was a rare combination of energy and talent in the smallest of packages. People called him a genius.

At 14 years old, he turned in one of cinema's most arresting pieces of magic as "Puck" in Warner Brothers lavish production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935).

Playing an anxious, hyperactive, girl-crazy teenager as Andy Hardy (1937-46), he instilled a lasting image of what every American parent wished their teen could be like. Unsurprisingly, he didn’t just play a girl-crazy teenager on screen. He was married eight times, fortunately, the last one lasting longer than all the others combined.

Mickey Rooney with first wife Ava Gardner

Ava Gardner, who he married when she was just 19, said, “He went through the ladies like a hot knife through fudge.” Their marriage lasted just a year with Ava citing he cheated on her.

Despite his relationship trouble, he found a sister in Judy Garland. They became a wildly successful song and dance team, most notably for Babes in Arms (1939).

The Mick also cemented his screen legacy playing “bad boy” Whitey Marsh in Boys Town (1938) opposite Spencer Tracy.

After 21 months of entertaining the troops in WWII he returned to a reality where he would no longer be able to play a teenager for long, and he was too short (5’2”) to play the traditional leading man role of the time.

Never one to rest, he continued to work incessantly even on a list of products and business investments that seem absurd and unreal: Weenie World, Mickey Melon, etc. He liked having 8-10 projects at once, claiming it “gives you an extemporaneous quality going at each project.”

Mickey Rooney and Anthony Quinn

He did bit parts in beach movies well into his late forties before blossoming again later in his career, starring in Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962) with Anthony Quinn and Muhammad Ali, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) with Bob’s Big Boy Burbank Hall-of-Famer Jonathan Winters, and Francis Ford Coppola’s Black Stallion (1979). He won an Emmy and Golden Globe for Bill (1981) and made his Broadway debut in the acclaimed stage play Sugar Babies (1979-88).

In 1983, Bob's Big Boy Burbank Hall-of-Famer Bob Hope and the Academy presented him with an honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement.

Mickey Rooney has four stars (yes, four!) on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. There are stars for television, radio, live performance, and the one for film is at 1718 Vine Street.

Mickey with his Oscar in 1983