In Memoriam: Mickey Rooney

Rather than a trite listing of credits, and a recitation of his significance to the film world like his Juvenile Award, having screen credits in 10 consecutive decades and only having four years since 1926 without a role, I’d rather provide a list of films Mickey Rooney was in that greatly have affected my life, as someone who has a great affection for him but believed that I’d not seen many of his works.

The Muppets (2011)

The Muppets (2011, Disney)

One of the many smiles this film provided is his cameo.

Night at the Museum (2006)

Night at the Museum (2006, 20th Century Fox)

I have incorporated the term “weirdy” into my vernacular based on one of his lines in this film.

Phantom of the Megaplex (2000)

No, this is not one of those good DCOMS. However, who better to play an aged theater employee who loves the movies than Mickey. He certainly wasn’t holding it back any.

The Care Bears Movie (1985)

The Care Bears Movie (1985, Samuel Goldwyn Company)

The Care Bears were a big thing for me growing up, and the fact that Mickey was a voice in the cast was not lost on me when I was revisiting this film as an adult. His kindly character affected me when I was young.

The Fox and the Hound (1981)

The Fox and the Hound (1981, Dinsey)

It’s not an oft talked about Disney title, but I think this one marked all the kids who grew up seeing it.

The Black Stallion (1979)

The Black Stallion (1979, United Artists)

Not one I knew as a kid, but a film that has been with me a while. And though the nature of the film does shift Rooney’s role is memorable if the horse racing aspect is not the ideal.

Pete’s Dragon (1977)

Pete's Dragon (1977, Disney)

I didn’t even see this film until I was older and Lampie is huge part of what makes it work.

The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974)

The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974, Rankin/Bass)

It never even really sank in until now that this was also him. There you go, Mickey is part of virtually everyone’s childhood just based on that alone.

Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (1970)

Santa Claus is Comin' To Town (1970, Rankin/Bass)

And again…

Andy Hardy Films

Mickey Rooney and Deanna Durbin

Not sure how many I’ve seen at this point, but have a box of them I need to get to.

Boys Town (1938)/Men of Boys Town (1941)

Boys Town (1938, MGM)


Rooney has influenced many through the generations and with his expansive filmography it’s unlikely his influence will see an end. May he rest in peace.

Something I’ve seen more recently. Goes from the tough guy who can grate on you but has a heart of gold to a role model for the other wayward boys coming into Father Flanagan’s fold.

Captains Courageous (1937)

Captains Courageous (1937, MGM)

One of his wonderful pairings with Freddie Batholomew.

The Devil is a Sissy (1936)

The Devil is a Sissy (1936, MGM)

Three of the biggest young stars of their era (Rooney, Cooper and Bartholomew) on screen together, and one of the first titles I had to have from Warner Archive.

Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936)

Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936, Selznick)_3

One of my favorite tear-jerking tales, and one of my favorites from the era.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935)

A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935, Warner Bros.)

The first version of this story I saw of any kind. He remains Puck in my mind.

Officer Thirteen (1932)

A Poverty Row production when he was still be credited as Mickey McGuire that’s one of the standout older titles I’ve come to discover this year.


It’s clear that many of Rooney’s titles have influenced me, and many more have influenced others. With his expansive career it’s unlikely that his influence will see an end. May he rest in peace.