Mickey Rooney; A Child Star Forever Remembered

Mickey_Rooney_stillThis week the Old Hollywood fandom are in mourning once again. On Monday Mickey Rooney died aged 93. Only at the beginning of the year did we lose Shirley Temple, another child star of the Old Hollywood era. This is obviously a hazard that comes with being fans of old things, we’re bound to see lots of death and have to mourn the actors we treasure.

Mickey Rooney had lived a very long life compared to some of those he acted with. He had a career spanning 9 decades, married 8 times and lived life to the full in every way. I suppose we don’t really need to tell you much about Rooney. Everyone knows he was a very successful child star who had many comebacks in adulthood. Laurence Olivier once referred to him as “the greatest film actor America ever produced.” Those words mean everything coming from Olivier.

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Rooney & his first wife Ava Gardner

His most famous role was as Andy Hardy in A Family Affair which gained that much success 15 more films were released off the back of it. Rooney also found fame when partnered with another child star, Judy Garland. In some clips at the beginning of their partnership you can easily see how comfortable Rooney is in performing next to Garland who still seems a bit nervous. Rooney was from a vaudeville family so had been on stage from very early on.

 

Go look at his filmography and I’m sure you’ll be surprised in all the films he’s been in. Without a doubt you’ve seen at least one of  the 300+ films he’s starred in.

Here’s Mickey and Judy singing Our Love Affair from 1940’s Strike Up The Band.

He’ll be missed but he’s made a big mark on Hollywood that will go on forever



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Rooney has Mr Yunioshi in 1961’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s

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Rooney with 11 year old Elizabeth Taylor (her film debut) and Butch Jenkins in National Velvet (1944)

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Rooney with Dick Van Dyke & Bill Cobbs in Night At The Museum (2006)

Eleanor Parker, Peter O’Toole & Joan Fontaine

This week has been tough for Old Hollywood fans everywhere. Two of our beloved actresses and one actor have died in the same week. Eleanor Parker, Peter O’Toole and Joan Fontaine are world famous and rightly so, they’ll be sorely missed.

Eleanor Parker- 26th June 1922- 9th December 2013

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Many people don’t realise who this lady is and you really should do. Parker is most famous for playing the Baroness in The Sound of Music. She was an actress that went against convention in the 1940’s and 50’s and this is why she doesn’t get the recognition of some actresses in that era. Parker wouldn’t be pigeonholed into playing one type of character, she wanted to play a variety and she was brilliant at it even if her own personality never shone through.

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Parker as the Baroness

Throughout her career she had ups and downs, as everyone does. She starred with some very well know actors such as Kirk Douglas, Julie Andrews and Errol Flynn. She was also nominated for three Academy Awards. When you watch any of her films you can see she worked hard at her roles and even went as far as to perfect a posh English accent in The Woman in White (1948). She starred in over 80 films and TV series throughout her career venturing into series like the original Hawaii Five-O and Murder, She Wrote. No matter what you films, TV series or stage productions you mention most people will only see her as the Baroness… and even then they don’t know her real name.

Peter O’Toole- 2nd August 1932- 14th December 2013

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Peter O’Toole. Fantastic Actor. Hellraiser. True Legend of the big screen. The guy who liked a few drinks too many. O’Toole was a man with many sides and yet each side defined his work and made it successful. In the 60’s he Richard Burton, Richard Harris and Oliver Reed became known as the Hellraisers and the name stuck.

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O’Toole & Hepburn in How to Steal a Million

O’Toole starred in many films that are still famous and well watched today. He played T.E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) he played opposite Katharine Hepburn in The Lion in Winter (1968) and no one can forget his fun performance with Audrey Hepburn in How to Steal a Million (1966). He must have starred in close to one hundred films throughout his long career and officially retired last year with this statement: ”It is time for me to chuck in the sponge. To retire from films and stage. The heart for it has gone out of me: it won’t come back.” Said in true O’Toole style. He is one of those unlucky actors never to have won the Best Actor Oscar even though he was nominated 8 times. The Academy Awards gave him an honorary one in 2003.

Peter O’Toole was great because of his commitment and love for the films he was in. Yes he had drink problems but like many of that era it helped his fame. He gave everything 100% and after his performance in Lawrence of Arabia everyone knew his career was destined for bigger things. He also has beautiful blue eyes which really didn’t hurt his chances in colour films.

Joan Fontaine- 22nd October 1917- 15th December 2013

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I was shocked when I heard of Fontaine’s death at 1am this morning. I honestly thought it was a hoax, it seemed too soon after O’Toole’s death to be real. It is however very real with reports from her family that she died in her sleep.

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Courtesy of Getty Images

Fontaine’s sibling rivalry may, to some people, have made her more famous than her acting work did. I don’t believe this one bit. Joan Fontaine was born Joan de Havilland and is Olivia de Havilland’s younger sister. They’ve had a feud for over 50 years and I’m hoping they straightened it out before she passed away.

Fontaine was a well deserved Oscar winner winning in 1947 for To Each His Own. She impressed Alfred Hitchcock with her soft features and big frightened eyes and she starred in two of his films Suspicion and the film that made her famous, Rebecca, opposite Laurence Olivier. Fontaine starred in over 30 films with some of the most recognised stars and directors of the day. She was directed by Billy Wilder in The Emperor Waltz and Fritz Lang in Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.

She made each film her own and didn’t allow the famous men to take the spotlight off of her. She starred opposite Orson Welles, Bing Crosby and Cary Grant and yet never appeared phased or awestruck. She was a strong woman who knew what she wanted and turned her career into a competition with her sister. Fontaine was a graceful beauty that knew how to speak out in a world where that wasn’t the norm.

Hollywood and the rest of the world should mourn the loss of these three Old Hollywood giants. We’re slowly loosing an era that shaped the film industry we know today. The natural beauty of Parker and Fontaine will never be seen in the same way again and the confidence and skill of O’Toole was second to none.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all their families and we hope that you’ll watch one of their films just to prove to yourself the talent that as left the world.

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Clark Gable and Eleanor Parker in The King & Four Queens (1956)

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Joan Fontaine as Mrs. de Winter in Rebecca (1940)

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Peter O’Toole

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