Mickey Rooney (Who’s Who at MGM, 1937) 🇺🇸

January 09, 2022

Mickey Rooney began earning his way in the world when he was less than a year old. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, on September 23, the son of Joe Yule and Nell Brown, who christened him Joe, Jr. His parents were vaudeville players and Mickey made his stage debut at the age of eleven months.

He wore a specially made tuxedo which he still treasures as a souvenir of his initial stage appearance. He was in the act for only three weeks because his parents thought he was too young to become an actor.

Mickey, or Joe Yule, Jr., as he was christened, satisfied himself for the next year playing around the back stages of theaters while his parents were performing.

Special Working Permit

He still remembers vividly how, as a baby of two, he crawled out on the stage and interrupted his parents by sneezing. His father picked him up, gave him a French harp to play, and he was an instant hit with the audience.

From that day on he was a regular member of the act.

In order to comply with New York laws, Mickey was given a special work permit by Governor Alfred E. Smith. Spending most of his time back-stage, he soon learned to dance and, with a partner, Sid Gold, toured the East Coast with a vaudeville dance routine. The novelty of his act won him a job with Will Morrissey’s Revue in New York City.

Danced Into Films

His dancing in the revue brought him to the attention of a studio executive who signed him to play the role of a midget in “Not to be Trusted.” He was only four years old at the time and the part called for him to smoke a cigar in one scene. Of course, a fake cigar was used, but when the prop pulled out several of his baby teeth, matters became complicated.

Mickey again portrayed a midget in “Orchids and Ermine,” and then came a long series of roles including “Fast Companions,” “Love Birds,” “Manhattan Melodrama,” Chained“Blind Date,” and “Hide-Out.” Then he won acclaim for his work in Max Reinhardt’s Hollywood Bowl production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He appeared in the picture version of the spectacle and then continued work on his M-G-M contract with Ah, Wilderness, Riff Raff“Little Lord Fauntleroy,” “The Devil Is a Sissy,” Captains Courageous, “A Family Affair,” “Live, Love and Learn” and “Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry.”

Rabid Sports Fan

Between working in films, the young veteran attended Dayton Heights and Vine Street Grammar Schools and the Pacific Military Academy. The remainder of his schooling has been accomplished at studio schools with private tutors.

Mickey is a rabid sports fan and is adept at all types of athletics including swimming, football, baseball, horseback riding, hockey, golf, handball, basketball, tennis and ping pong. He boasts of the fact that he has always worn long trousers. He collects stamps, old coins and odd match boxes. He plans definitely to become a motion picture director by the time he is twenty-one.

Among Mickey’s diversified talents is the ability to play many musical instruments, and this led to the formation of his own orchestra. This organization is by no means a joke, because it has had several engagements at different hotels where it never failed to give satisfaction.

An aspiring song writer, Mickey’s third song is being published by Irving Berlin. Sidney Miller wrote the lyrics.

Source: Who’s Who at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1937