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Opinion: Mickey Rooney remembered for ‘impressive career in the arts’

Actor Mickey Rooney died of natural causes April 6 in his Hollywood home. Credit: Courtesy of MCT

Actor Mickey Rooney died of natural causes April 6 in his Hollywood home.
Credit: Courtesy of MCT

After nine decades acting in film, television and onstage, Mickey Rooney has died.

The Hollywood legend passed away Sunday of natural causes, according to reports. Rooney will be remembered for an impressive career in the arts as well as notable life achievements. His long list of awards include an Emmy, two Golden Globes, an honorary Oscar and a Juvenile Academy Award, among many others. Rooney really did become a household name, with both people of this generation and past generations enjoying his work.

Rooney really set a precedent for Hollywood performers for generations to come. His role in the many different films, musicals and shows led to spinoffs and additional roles for other actors to fill.

He first appeared onstage with his parents in their vaudeville act at the age of just 1, according to The Los Angeles Times. At the age of 6, he performed as a nephew in the silent comedy short “Not to Be Trusted.” Rooney was actually the last living star to appear in silent films, according to The Boston Globe.

He is perhaps best known for his role as Andy Hardy in the 1937 film, “A Family Affair,” which introduced America to the beloved character and led to a film series, according to IMDb. The “Andy Hardy” character to me represents a quintessential part of American cinematic history. Hardy was the all-American boy the country seemed to claim as their own.

But Rooney was not limited to just this role; he also characterized comic strip character Mickey McGuire in nearly 50 comedy shorts, according to The Washington Post. I sometimes think of all the work and achievements in the lives of Hollywood’s best and brightest and cannot fathom how, in 1934, a kid at the age of 14 could appear in 11 films the same year he also shot several Mickey McGuire comedy shorts, according to IMDb. I’m almost 20 and just trying to pass college.

Rooney has been said to have had a personality similar to his beloved character Andy Hardy in that he never gives up.

“I always say, ‘Don’t retire — inspire,’” Rooney said in a March 2008 interview with the Associated Press. “There’s a lot to be done.”

This undying enthusiasm and spirit is what will live on in the hearts of many of Rooney’s fans and admirers.

Although his cinematic fame was widespread, he was also infamous for his personal life, which included marrying eight times and filing for bankruptcy, according to “Variety” magazine. Rooney’s notoriety that stemmed from the divorces and inner-family disputes are not what he should be remembered by. His talent in the arts and his never-ending ambition are what should really resonate with his fans.

He died a natural death while surrounded by his family at his home in North Hollywood, Calif., according to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office. Unfortunately, Rooney’s wife Jan Chamberlin, to whom he had been married since 1978, told The Hollywood Reporter she had not seen her husband in roughly a year and found out about his passing via the Internet.

The family had been separated following Rooney’s allegations of abuse at the hand of Chamberlin’s son, Christopher Aber, who allegedly withheld food and medication from Rooney, according to an Epoch Times article.

“Always get married in the morning. That way if it doesn’t work out, you haven’t wasted the whole day,” Rooney once said, according to Reuters.Although Rooney experienced pitfalls among his triumphs, he always seemed to strive to be better and accomplish more.

For many, Rooney’s death means the end of an era of old American film, and many celebrities and fans have reached out to honor his memory.

Close friend and fellow performer Liza Minnelli released a statement saying “Mickey was somebody that everybody loved … He was one of a kind, and will be admired and respected always.” His boyish charm and enduring spirit will be missed.

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