Sunday, September 23, 2012

Happy Birthday Andy Hardy

Mickey Rooney surrounded by Judy Garland, Ann Rutherford, and Lana Turner.

Today Andy Hardy (Mickey Rooney) turns 92., born Joe Jule, Jr. in 1920. I loved watching the Andy Hardy movies on television when I was growing up in the '60s in Huntington Beach, California. Los Angeles had several local stations then that showed "old" movies throughout the day. Of course, the films of the nineteen thirties and forties were not really old in the nineteen sixties. Watching those films then is like watching films from the eighties today. (That would include "classics" like ET - The Extraterrestrial, the first three Indiana Jones adventures, The Road Warrior, Ferris Bueller's Day Off,  or even from the seventies like Star Wars, Jaws, etc. etc. etc...)

Anyway, I still love all those movies I saw back then, the Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland musicals like Babes in Arms and Strike Up the Band, all the Busby Berkley movies, The Andy Hardy series, the witty comedies, the World War Two propaganda films, and on and on and on... And they were all clean, too. No vulgar, gutter language and no graphic, gratuitous sexual content. Ah for the day when, though some people, even some of the actors we admired, may have been vulgar in the real world, we were not assaulted with such crassness in our entertainment.

But I wander from the good tidings of the day. Happy birthday, Mickey, and many returns of the day! You said in 1958: "I was a 14-year-old boy for 30 years," and you are still young for your age with 328 films to your credit and more to come.

P.S. This is one of my favorite photos of the young Mickey Rooney, because it belonged to my mother. I found it in her movie star scrapbook which she kept as a young teenager in the nineteen thirties. This picture is different from the rest of those in her book. It is a photograph, a theatre lobby card, while all the others are clippings from  the Sunday supplement of a newspaper.
Joe Jule Jr., as Mickey McGuire, AKA Mickey Rooney.
More on Mickey: In 1979, when he made his Broadway debut in the review, Sugar Babies, at the age of 59, Jim Watters wrote:
"Rooney's been performing since the age of two, when his vaudevillian parents made him part of the act. By his early teens he was getting raves playing brats, bullies, midgets and a vivid Puck in the all-star A Midsummer Night's Dream. In 1939 he toppled the giants-Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Bing Crosby [also Tyron Power, Spencer Tracy, Shirley Temple, Bette Davis, Alice Faye, and Errol Flinn who were on the top ten list that year]-as the number one box-office draw."
Actually, in the golden decade before the decline and fall of the Hollywood studio system, 1936-1945, Mickey Rooney was in the top ten studio money makers list six out of those ten years. He was number four in 1938 and 1942, number one in 1939, 1940, and 1941, and ninth in 1943. Mickey was a "triple threat," an actor, singer and dancer. Whom do we have today that is comparable to his heyday? Justin Bieber? I think not.

 Here is a triple threat in one of my favorite films of 1936, The Devil Is a Sissy: Mickey, Freddie Bartholomew, and Jackie Cooper!

Mickey's swim party.

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