Mickey Rooney : Robert Osborne on Mickey Rooney

Robert Osborne on Mickey Rooney

By Robert Osborne:

One question I invariably used to ask in interviews is "Who's the most talented person you've ever known in show business?" I didn't keep doing that very long because I always got the same answer. Lucille Ball, without a moment's hesitation, said "Mickey Rooney." Robert Mitchum said "Mickey Rooney!" as if it was so obvious the question really didn't need to be asked. Anthony Quinn said it, too: "Mickey Rooney, absolutely." I also read that Cary Grant had made the same declaration.

Actually, that's no surprise. Who else can you name who's done so much? Think about it: acting, singing, dancing, playing multiple instruments, performing on screen and stage, on radio, television and records, in barns, vaudeville houses, summer stock tents, dinner theaters, cabaret rooms and Broadway houses--and done it so well, so publicly and so long as Rooney has?

Certainly few can equal the Rooney endurance record. He made his debut on stage at the age of 15 months. Last September 23, the Mick celebrated his 90th birthday, working in films for 85 of those years and blowing out the candles on his cake just after he finished a cabaret engagement with his wife Jan at a Manhattan nightspot. (At the moment, he also has three new films in the post-production phase.) There's one word for Mickey: indefatigable.

There's another word for his talent: priceless. No wonder he's been so well rewarded over the years: constant casting, two Oscars® (honorary ones, in 1939 and 1983), an Emmy,® two Golden Globes,® several years as the number one box-office star in the entire movie industry, plus piles of other prizes and maybe the most heartening honor of them all--the affection of the public for the greater share of those 90 years. (As a side note, the one thing that's always baffled me is why two other prime U.S. awards have never come his way: a Kennedy Center honor and an AFI Lifetime Achievement Award. Who deserves them more?)

Re: Robert Osborne on Mickey Rooney

Thanks for posting. I agree with Robert Osborne. I wish Hollywood had more talented people like Mickey Rooney.

Re: Robert Osborne on Mickey Rooney

The more I watch Mickey Rooney, the more I appreciate his talents. As multi-talented as he was, I think the main reason for his success was the level of energy he put into everything. First of all, I think his dancing was underrated. People talk about Cagney's dancing all the time. Well take a look at the Conga number in Strike Up the Band. The amount of energy he puts into his dancing (with Judy Garland) is phenomenal. To really illustrate this, in the same Conga number at one point he is dancing with 5b4 Judy onstage, then slips into the background while she sings with six backup singers behind her. But he doesn't just slink off to the side. He is fully engaged. He then has his back to the camera, positioned behind the backup singers, conducting the band. He is barely seen, but notice the energy he dedicates to the number.

It has been said that he doesn't just walk in some roles. When playing Andy Hardy, he sometimes seems to juke across the floor. He jumps up stairs. His face is so animated, it draws the attention of the viewer. Certainly, he hams it up. But it is delightful the way he does it.

When he plays a teen, he really captures the boundless energy of a teen. And when he dances with Judy, she keeps up with the beat, but his dancing has the energy that drives the number.

Re: Robert Osborne on Mickey Rooney

he also does a LOT of ad lib. i dunno if he still does it but when he was playing Andy hardy. he was always ad libbing. it was a ways he likes to work. i've read on here he isn't that nice of a man. and it's possible but that doesn't mean i'm going to stop watching him in films.