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Mickey Rooney is Greatest Entertainer of All Time
I met Mickey Rooney backstage in Dallas, Texas in the 70's when he played at the Windmill Dinner Theater. I am 5' 7" and I towered over Mickey. In reality, however, Mickey towered over me and all other men. He was a giant among entertainers.
Just shaking his hand and exchanging words with him was earth shattering for me. I had grown up watching his magic in the movies and on the small screen. If you are one of the unfortunate people that never saw Mickey in the 15 Andy Hardy movies he made as a teen and into his twenties, I beg of you to check them out.
The series is about a high school boy and later a college man who runs through a lot of young women including Judy Garland, Lana Turner, Ann Rutherford, Kathryn Grayson, Donna Reed, Esther Williams and Bonita Granville while discovering love, heartbreak and manhood. Along the way, he has monumental conversations with his dad, a local judge full of wisdom. A truly magical series of films that everyone including youngsters should see.
This isn't where his magic started, however. Mickey has been on the stage since the ripe old age of 15 months. Along the way, he learned to play many instruments and mastered most including the piano and especially the drums which were featured in a movie he made about a drummer.
Mickey could sing, although not a great voice could sing right along with Judy Garland as he did in Babes on Broadway. And, brother could he dance! The thing I liked best about Mickey was his smile from ear to ear throughout his dancing and drumming. It just made you feel good.
Of course, to be the best all-around you must be able to do comedy and drama. He showed us the comedy as Andy Hardy. He was also a terrific dramatic actor as displayed in classics such as Boys Town with the legendary Spencer Tracy, National Velvet with the very youthful Elizabeth Taylor and Black Stallion.
He was nominated for four Oscars and received an Honorary Oscar in 1983. He was number one box office attraction in the world for two years at ages 19-20. He has been in more films than anyone in the history of cinema starting in 1926 and with three films in production as we speak in 2012. Friends, that is 86 years of making films for our enjoyment.
And, along the way, he had time for 8 wives; the first being one of the most glamorous women ever to grace the screen, Ava Gardner. He is currently married to Janice Chamberlin.
I just can not say enough about this gift to the human race.