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Mickey Rooney Remembered as Andy Hardy
Would you like to feel good again? Check out the old Andy Hardy movies starring Mickey Rooney and a host of soon to be famous stars. This is just good old fashioned teenage fun with a little trouble thrown in and some frequent romance for Andy to move things along.
The main theme of the series is Andy getting into dilemmas and his most reputable father, Judge Hardy straightening him out through their father and son private talks in the Judge's home office, at the courthouse, or on their private excursions together to show Andy the answers to his questions about life in general, or even to help Andy make a decision on buying an old jalopy. Judge Hardy was played reverently by Lewis Stone even though he was old enough to be Andy's grandfather.
Recognize a very young Lana Turner in the first picture? That is Judy Garland and Ann Rutherford alongside giving Andy one of his often decision making situations of which girl he wants to be with. He is frequently inundated with females from school, or from young ladies in town for a brief period of time visiting their relatives. To Andy Hardy, this type of situation is overwhelming and requires a lot of consideration. Such is the plight of Andrew Hardy in small town, Carvel, U.S.A.
In the photos alongside, notice future Hollywood stars Judy Garland, Lana Turner, Esther Williams, Kathryn Grayson, Donna Reed and Bonita Granville shown in the family portrait. Then, there was Andy's long-time girlfriend that he always came back to, Polly Benedict played by Ann Rutherford.
In the photo showing Donna Reed as one of three couples, notice film star James Craig in the middle and Van Johnson on the right. Oftentimes, celebrities were guests on the widely popular series.
A Family Affair premiered in 1937 about the life of Andrew Hardy's family in Carvel. The father was played by Lionel Barrymore, the mother by Spring Byington, the aunt by Sara Haden, the sister Marion played by Cecilia Parker and the older married sister played by Julie Haydon. Mickey Rooney was, of course Andrew Hardy. This was not meant to be a series, but was so popular that a series did emerge that same year.
However, there was a change of several of the cast members. Lewis Stone replaced Barrymore, Fay Holden replaced Spring Byington and the married sister never appeared in the following 15 films. The series went from 1937 until 1946 when Mickey was 26 in real life and had been through college by this time in the series. There was a comeback in 1958 with the final film, Andy Hardy Comes Home that hoped to promote a new series, but failed to do so.
This was a truly enjoyable series of delightful, engaging, funny, serious and memorable scenes and plots involving romance, intrigue, jealousy, remorse, fantasy and ingenuity. Andy was simply a joy to watch working his way through females and sequences of day to day experiences.
Mickey Rooney, thanks for the memories.