I’m going to step away from the norm and write about a person instead of a film. Technically I do write about people within my movie recommendations, but there’s no recommendation here. Just some things that you need to know.

Mickey Rooney has died and this is significant.

I was reading some articles about his death and people were posting mean things about him in the comments, because Internet. I have heard these things before: that he was not a particularly nice man unless there were cameras rolling or press nearby, that he was an alcoholic (though not recently), that he was married 8 times because he was a jerk. He seemed okay to me, but I met him at church. If there’s anywhere not to be an asshole, church would be the place. Or it should be.

Let’s understand something though- as Hollywood stars go, he wasn’t that bad. He did not have a police record. He did not abuse his offspring. He has never been accused of molesting a child. He did not murder anyone. He never got coked up and rode around Hollywood smashing into his “enemies” with his car. He never jumped up and down on Oprah’s couch. By the time I ever heard of him, he had pretty much straightened up his act. So can we not dwell on these things, please?

He spent the last few years standing up for the rights of the elderly. He spoke before the Senate Special Committee on Aging about abuse that he received at the hands of his own stepson- an outrage that split his family in two. He moved out from one stepson and moved in with another and had not seen his wife of 32 years since last April. In fact, she heard of his death via TMZ.

I have mentioned this before, but it really bears repeating. Up until Sunday, Rooney was the only working actor who started out in silent film. Let that sink in. Would you like me to repeat that in bold? Okay. Up until Sunday, Rooney was the only working actor who started out in silent film. You’re welcome. I submit that it’s entirely possible that, until Sunday, he was the only working actor who started out in Vaudeville, but I’m not confident enough in that to put money on it.

He has worked with or known so many of the classic stars that have left us already that, to me, he was a living link to them. And now he too is gone. With 200 or so movies to his credit, I couldn’t possibly make a decent list of his co-stars, so maybe I won’t even try. That’s what IMDb is for.

Do I have favorite Mickey Rooney roles? Yes, of course. I love Andy Hardy. I loved him in A Night at the Museum. I love catching him in uncredited roles from his early film career. He had personality. I like that most of all. So whether I like the movie he’s in or not, whether he’s doing a good job of acting or not (I am not blind to the fact that there were roles he should have turned down) you know when he’s on screen because he lights it up. You know what? I will make a recommendation here after all. If there’s a movie on with Mickey Rooney in it, even if he’s only in it for a second, watch it.

Rest in Peace, Mickey Rooney. You are already missed.

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