Tribute: Mickey Rooney

I don’t remember ever becoming aware of Mickey Rooney. He’s been so long a part of cinema and television he feels like he’s always been there. And to an extent, he has. Rooney started performing on stage at a mere 17 months of age and started working in cinema in the Silent Era. Can you even wrap your head around that? He’s been a working actor looking than some of our grandparents have been on the Earth. When did you retire? He never retired! He has still been working this year! He attending Oscar parties in the past weeks. Acting and performing wasn’t a job…it’s his life. He’s a legend, pure and simple.


Rooney’s first and frequent co-star Judy Garland.

Mickey Rooney passed away today at the age of 94, in his bed and surrounded by family. He was succeeded by his eighth wife, nine children and nineteen grandchildren.

At a time like this we would pick out our favourite role as a way of paying tribute but…where to begin? I couldn’t do his career justice by picking out one from the hundreds of movies and shows he has featured in. Instead we’re going to go with the last time he caught our attention. And that was The Muppets.

Mickey Rooney Muppets

He wasn’t playing a character, he was just being himself. For one line in a song Mickey Rooney appeared on screen, full of energy and smiling broadly. With just that brief second of screen time he raising a smile and the spirits of the audience. I suspect that even the younger members of the audience, unfamiliar with his legacy, would feel the same joyful glow from this old man partaking in a sing along.

This cameo also speaks of his legacy in the industry. Jason Segal went to reprimand a choreographer after hearing his flippantly referring to Rooney as ‘Dad’. After being told by Segal that he can’t just refer to all old men as ‘Dad’, it was pointed out that Mickey Rooney was in fact his father. You’d be hard pressed not to find someone in the industry not associated with Mickey Rooney.

As long as silver screens still flicker Mickey Rooney will not be forgotten. Rest In Peace.