At five feet, two inches, he was the biggest star in the world.
Mickey Rooney (born Joseph Yule, Jr.) was probably the most talented star Hollywood ever produced. His astonishing career started in the silent era as a child actor. Rooney made the transition to sound with ease, and his career saw work in radio, television and Broadway. Rooney popularity reached a fever pitch in the late 1930s and 1940s. Rooney did it all. As Puck in Max Reinhardt’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935) the fifteen year-old Rooney dazzled with unrestrained energy. Of course, Rooney and Judy Garland added to the American lexicon of optimism and generosity when they exclaimed, “Hey kids, lets put on a show!”
In Boys Town (1938) Rooney is a strutting, hard-shelled delinquent who ultimately reveals his vulnerabilities with choking sobs that are the template for the eternally mixed-up adolescent. Without Mickey Rooney there would have been no James Dean.
As Andy Hardy, Rooney, the small-town kid with a big heart would, at a strategic point in Act III, turn to his father, Judge Hardy (Lewis Stone)—a judge who was proud to judge others—and say: “Pop, can I talk to you, man-to-man?”