Another American show business icon leaves us:
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Posted 07 April 2014 - 04:27 AM
Another link to the golden age gone. It's easy to forget what a colossal star Rooney was in his day, because so many of his vehicles haven't aged so well and his star personality seems a tad hyperaggressive for today's tastes. A contemporary viewer might well wonder why young Judy Garland was relegated to second-banana status in their pictures together. But he was a big star and a big talent. No one could pick up a routine faster (which may have encouraged some his bad offscreen habits; it was all too easy for him). Adieu, Puck.
Posted 08 April 2014 - 06:01 AM
I was saddened to hear this news.
I haven't seen that many of his movies but I really liked him in "It's a mad, mad, mad, mad world", especially the part in the plane with Buddy Hackett.
Posted 09 April 2014 - 02:53 PM
That is my favorite speech from the play -- many thanks for the clip!
Posted 30 June 2014 - 05:43 AM
A nice photo gallery from CNN accompanying a story about a dispute over the will.
Rooney "intentionally omitted" and disinherited his eight surviving biological children and two other stepchildren from his last marriage, the will said.
Rooney had no negative feelings toward his surviving children, but they were all financially better off than he was, Augustine said, adding that Rooney believed that what little he had to leave should go to Mark Rooney and his wife, because they had been taking good care of him in his final two years.
Posted 01 July 2014 - 03:46 AM
The real pity is that he died with so little after so many years in show business. He started out in the silent movie era!
Posted 02 July 2014 - 09:01 AM
Rooney had a gambling habit and multiple wives. Not a recipe for financial stability.
I guess it should be noted that the stars of the golden age, most of whom were contract players, were underpaid, relatively speaking. Many ended up well-off but not necessarily stratospherically so, unless they invested wisely. The old system had its advantages for stars but base pay wasn’t one of them.
(Ginger Rogers wrote in her autobiography that her mother Lela (one of the great stage mamas of showbiz history) asked her daughter’s agent about what we would call today residuals from this newfangled television thingy (this was in the 1930s). Hayward said there was no need, it was never going to amount to anything.)
That said, Rooney would probably have ended up in financial difficulties anyway, given his habits. At the peak of his stardom he'd spend most of his week at the tracks playing the horses and then come in and pick up all his routines in a day. As noted upthread, possibly he was too talented for his own good. And of course don't forget his height, maybe some of this was overcompensation.....
Posted 06 September 2014 - 03:34 PM
I watched one of my favorite MGM musicals, Words and Music, again this week and really paid attention to Rooney. To say his performance is a broad one would be the understatement of the year (although, in the informative commentary track, the film scholar reminds us that Lorenz Hart had a broad personality.) Hard to know how much of Rooney's scenery-chewing performance is due to him or the craziness and historical inaccuracy of the script. Still, if you can stay the course, his duet with Judy Garland -- "I Wish I Were in Love Again" -- is wonderful. He was one of the few people who could go toe-to-toe with her and not get obliterated. He made it look so easy when we all know it wasn't. Unfortunately, this was to be his last film for MGM, as he was no longer a cute juvenile at 28.
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