The phrase "living legend" has lost a bit of its luster in recent years, due to its careless overuse by grammatically overwrought writers. But that label fits Mickey Rooney quite well.
Rooney is an Academy Award winner (he won a honorary Lifetime Achievement Oscar in 1983 and a juvenile Oscar in 1939) who has four stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. And he happens to be very much alive.
This fall, Rooney will tour with his "Let's Put On A Show" career retrospective through Canada, with a few shows in New York. His eighth wife, Jan, will join him.
During a recent interview with a local newspaper, Rooney said work is where his heart is, even at nearly 90 years old. He credits working with his wife for keeping him energized.
"We were born to work together and we enjoy what we're doing very much," Rooney said.
Rooney is a walking, talking historical figure. He's the last living link to Hollywood's silent film era .
Born in 1920, Rooney made his screen debut in the 1926 silent movie "Not To Be Trusted." Since then, he has amassed more than 300 film and TV credits, a staggering amount of work impressive not just for its quantity, but also for its variety and quality. He remains busy to this day, juggling film work and stage shows.
From his early work as a child playing the title character in the film adaptations of the "Mickey McGuire" comic strip to his star-making time as MGM's biggest moneymaker during the late 1930s and 1940s, Rooney exhibited a tireless work ethic. He became one of the biggest box office stars in the world during that time, starring in films such as "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "Boys Town" and of course, the smash-hit "Andy Hardy" pictures.
Along the way, he romanced some of the film industry's most famous leading ladies, including Lana Turner and Ava Gardner (who would briefly be one of Rooney's eight wives), as detailed in his official website. He also had a famously close friendship with Judy Garland.
He turned to television in the 1950s, and would appear on classic shows like "The Fugitive" and "The Twilight Zone." He lent his voice to Santa Claus in two of the classic stop-motion animated Christmas specials of the 70s, "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" and "The Year Without a Santa Claus." Rooney never stopped making movies , either.
He appeared in "Pete's Dragon" in 1977 and in 1979, starred in one of his most fondly remembered roles as a retired jockey in "The Black Stallion." At 86, he suddenly found himself in demand again after his small role in Ben Stiller's 2006 family fantasy adventure hit, "Night At The Museum."
Rooney will turn 90 on Sept. 23. Aside from a few days of down time to mark the occasion, he plans to do what he's always done: work. His appearance calendar is booked solid through October 2010 with dates across Canada and a few in New York City.
This living legend shows no signs of wanting to slow down any time soon.
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