We all have cinematic blind spots – directors, actors, and sometimes entire genres that we simply haven’t caught up with yet – and I’m ashamed to say Mickey Rooney is one of mine. The legendary actor passed away this weekend at the age of 93, after a staggeringly long career spent entertaining audiences across every decade from the 1920s until this one. It’s not too often you can say something like that about a working actor, but that’s exactly what Rooney was – a working actor.
I’ve seen his best-known features, of course – The Fox and the Hound, National Velvet, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Night at the Museum – but Rooney really established himself as a star back in the 1930s as the famous character of Andy Hardy and opposite Judy Garland in a successful string of song and dance films. Those are the movies that have escaped me thus far, and I owe it to myself (and so do you, I’m sure) to catch up with them if you haven’t yet, if not as a small way to pay tribute to a man who spent practically his whole life giving us laughs on screen, but as education about the eras of filmmaking that precede the one we’re in now.
Rest in peace, Mr. Rooney. You left behind one hell of a resume.
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