Mickey Rooney reported dead
While it has been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, there is something distinctive about being the cultural shorthand (no pun intended…well, maybe a little…so to speak) for jokes.
In Mickey Rooney’s case, his significant and lasting popular impact allowed references to height, multiple marriages, and a “gee, shucks” kind of youthful enthusiasm. That enthusiasm lasted well into his third quarter century.
It’s important to note that these jokes weren’t because of a lack of respect (and I don’t intend my own introduction that way). Rooney was nominated for four Oscars…with the first nomination coming forty years before the last. He was also given an honorary Oscar in 1983.
He won two Golden Globes, and was nominated for five Emmys, winning one.
He appeared on stage (including the hit Sugar Babies with Ann Miller…starting when he was nearly 80).
His Hollywood Walk of Fame star recognizes his work not only in movies, but in radio and TV.
Throughout his career, Rooney had many geek friendly roles, including:
- Voicing Oswald the Rabbit in the 1920s and 1930s (this came following his success in the Mickey Maguire series of live action shorts…which continued, meaning Rooney was doing two series at the same time)
- The Lost Jungle
- Puck in Max Reinhardt’s all-star version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935)
- Young Tom Edison (as the Wizard of Menlo Park)
- The Atomic Kid: a 1954 wacky comedy in which Rooney becomes radioactive
- The Mickey Rooney Show, a TV series with some geeky elements (including an episode with a robot)
- Francis in the Haunted House, taking over co-starring duties from Donald O’Connor with the talking mule
- Pinocchio, a 1957 live action TV version, with Rooney in the title role, and featuring Jerry Colonna, Stubby Kaye, and Fran Allison
- As the Devil in The Private Lives of Adam and Eve (with Mamie Van Doren as Eve
- In a memorable episode of the original The Twilight Zone, Rooney played on the perception of his diminutive stature, as a jockey who wanted to be big
- It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (it made sense that one of Hollywood’s most popular stars would be part of this celebrity-studded comedy)
- How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (one of the beach party movies, with Buster Keaton, Annette Funicello, and Harvey Lembeck as Eric Von Zipper)
- Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (which still shows every holiday season, with Rooney voicing Kris Kringle/Santa Claus)
- Night Gallery
- Journey Back to Oz (voicing the Scarecrow)
- The Year without a Santa Claus
- Pete’s Dragon, which was perceived at the time as an ambitious mix of animation and live action at Disney
- Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July (back as Santa Claus)
- Arabian Adventure (with Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing…and John Ratzenberger)
- Creole (narrator: later edited into Misunderstood Monsters)
- The Fox and the Hound (back at Disney, voicing Tod)
- The Love Boat (“The Christmas Presence”)
- The Care Bears Movie (as Mr. Cherrywood)
- Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland
- Erik the Viking
- Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker (as Joe Petto)
- The Magic Voice (English narrator of this German cartoon…other voices include Corey Feldman and Dom DeLuise)
- Kung Fu: The Legend Continues
- Kleo, the Misfit Unicorn (as Talbut…a regular voice on this late 1990s series)
- Conan (TV series with the Robert E. Howard character)
- Stories from My Childhood (The Snow Queen episode)
- Sinbad: The Battle of the Dark Knights
- Babe: Pig in the City
- Phantom of the Megaplex
- Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure
- To Kill a Mockumentary
- The Happy Elf
- Night at the Museum
- The Thirsting
- The Yesterday Pool
- Wreck the Halls
- A Miser Brothers’ Christmas
- The Muppets (the 2011 movie)
- The Voices from Beyond
- The Woods
- Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (not yet released)
- Fragments from Olympus: The Vision of Nikola Tesla (not yet released)
Good-bye, Mickey Rooney…the world never stood taller than when you brought your attitude to it.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.