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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

It Was The Bet Of Mickey Rooney...(3).

He did so many wonderful things after 1949, where, on TV, he was usually the top billed guest star, or in the movies, where he wasn't.
The Dick Powell Theater, perhaps the last and greatest anthology series, had him star four times.
He was great, and different, all four times.
He did a half-hour filmed episode of the Alcoa Theatre, called "Eddie".
Solo.
On the telephone.
He owed bookies money, and they were threatening to kill him.
Telephone acting is the hardest.
You have to convey who the character on the other end of the phone is, and what he's saying.
You can't cheat like Bob Newhart or Shelley Berman, and repeat what the other character has said.
Mickey won an Emmy for "Eddie".
He did an episode of "Hennesey" and just shone.
I recently saw him in an episode of the Milton Berle show.
He wiped Uncle Miltie off the screen.
In that one hour, he became Mr. Television.

The movies?  Where to begin....
"Requiem For a Heavyweight"
Jackie Gleason, Anthony Quinn, Rooney, and Julie Harris.
Arguably Gleason's greatest performance.
He managed to make you hate him and care about him at the same time.
And much of the hatred and caring came through the  eyes of Mickey Rooney's character.
You don't give your greatest performance alone.
Gleason and Anthony Quinn apparently detested each other.
Their acting styles completely contrasted.
Gleason just got up and did it.
Quinn had to "Soak it in".
Gleason mocked Quinn for this.
Later, when asked who the best actor he ever worked with was, Quinn shot right back with "Mickey Rooney".
And it wasn't a shot at Gleason.  He meant it.
Mickey certainly held his own in the scenes he had with Buddy Hackett in "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World".
In 1969, Carl Reiner made a film starring Dick Van Dyke called "The Comic".
It was about the silent film era.
Van Dyke played a combination of Stan Laurel and Harry Langdon.
Mickey Rooney played a character named Martin "Cockeye" Van Buren.
Cross-eyed.
It was his version of Ben Turpin.
There was a lot of  "silent" footage.
Mickey was a great physical comedian.
He threw moves that Ben Turpin was never capable of.
All Turpin had was his crossed eyes.
It made sense that Rooney would be a great silent comedian.
He WAS one.
When he was a kid.
In scores of "Mickey McGuire" movies.
"The Comic" turned very dramatic as the silent era ended and their careers crashed.
There is this this great scene that takes place in the present.
Van Dyke and Rooney, now both old, are sitting on a park bench, facing the one theater in L.A. that still showed silent movies.
Mickey is still cross-eyed.
They are bemoaning their current place in the world, and the world in general.
Rooney, pointing to his own eyes, says "When people stopped laughing at these, they started killing each other."
Pretty haunting stuff.
Then there were more awards, nominations----"Bill", The Black Stallion"
Wonderful work.
It's almost a shame that next time I have to start taking a crap on him.

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My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
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*****

2 comments:

  1. Good stuff, Mark! Mickey was all over the place. Not only in various mediums, but also quality and a bit of rewriting showbiz history. Then again, he is showbiz history.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You could be eligible to get a free $1,000 Amazon Gift Card.

    ReplyDelete

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About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at macchus999@aol.com. Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."