Mickey Rooney, beloved child star known for his role as Andy Hardy, would eventually transform into a heinous character actor–notoriously illustrated by his role as Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. In death, Rooney has taken on an expectedly mythic aura that only Hollywood knows how to bequeath.
Born in 1920, Rooney was already appearing in films by 1927. But even before that, he was on the vaudeville circuit with his parents, already acting in an unwittingly offensive manner by portraying a midget for comic effect. The fact that people like Carol Channing (an illustrious homophobe in spite of her audience) have been quoted as saying “I loved working with Mickey” is also telling of the type of person he was.
Even later in his career, when political correctness was becoming more in fashion, he still maintained a decidedly indifferent air in terms of casting. In his Emmy award winning performance for Bill, a TV movie about a mentally challenged man, Rooney further proved his willingness to capitalize on “character acting,” even if it teetered outside the confines of good taste.
Apart from being generally offensive (indubitably caused, in part, by the era in which he thrived), Rooney was also notorious for his inability to stay married for long periods of time. In total, he wed eight women, leading him to ineloquently quip, “Always get married early in the morning. That way, if it doesn’t work out, you haven’t wasted a whole day.” Regardless of Rooney’s many faux pas with regard to tact, he will always sustain a loyal and laudatory audience, if in no one other than Myra Breckinridge–the last devotee of Golden Age Hollywood.