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Mickey Rooney dead at 93; a TV perspective

Actor Mickey Rooney with his honorary Oscar for

Actor Mickey Rooney with his honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement at the 55th Annual Academy Awards ceremony in 1983 in Los Angeles. (Credit: AP )

Mickey Rooney, who died over the weekend at 93, was one of the big screen's incandescent talents even though sustained success in TV never came. It's something of a puzzle considering there were attempts at stardom -- a mid-50s NBC sitcom, entitled "The Mickey Rooney Show," another, much later (just "Mickey" ). He even co-starred in a 1982 sitcom, "One of the Boys," with Nathan Lane and Dana Carvey.. The Emmy came for "Bill," the 1981 TV movie about a mentally disabled man.

What was most interesting however about the TV career --- sporadic as it was -- was his relationship with Rod Serling. Rooney appeared in Serling's classic teleplay, "Requiem for a Heavyweight," and also in a memorable "Twilight Zone."

TV's instinct -- and maybe Rooney's initial one, too -- was to attempt to cast him as a comedic figure (another notable TV role, "The Comedian," was anything but comedic). But his great TV roles, at least the indelible ones, were the tragic ones. The TV comedies are almost entirely forgotten.

Rooney had a fearsome intensity in these roles -- someone desperately down and out, who sought some sort of exit ramp from his emotional devastation. Rooney simply was too good a dramatic actor to fake sitcom laughs.

Meanwhile, let's wrap the short clip parade below with a glance back at a reunion -- from Judy Garland's now classic musical variety show.

If you are reading this post, and are entirely too young to understand the fuss over the death of Mickey Rooney, let me simply state that once upon a time, the world seemed innocent and in love; it was all a sustained illusion on film only, and the two magicians who pulled it off were Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney.

 The clips ...



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