With his 200-plus film appearances notwithstanding, the of-handed Rooney will be best remembered for acting as the main character in MGM’s Andy Hardy movies.
Andy Rooney, 93, who died Sunday encompassed by family in his North Hollywood home, leaves behind a huge Hollywood legacy that lasts 80 years with a couple of hundred films, including Boys Town and The Black Stallion.
He won two Oscars, the first in 1938, the ladder in 1982. In January 2005, Rooney made the news for the unheard of reasons when Fox denied a Super Bowl cold remedy commercial — featuring Rooney’s bare butt — for being inappropriate.
Rooney definitely knew how to put on a show. However, of all the characters that Rooney played — from Puck in the 1935 film production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream to his Oscar-nominated turn as a “prematurely mature” teen in 1943’s The Human Comedy — not one could compare with or begin to overcome Rooney himself.
Laurence Olivier called Rooney “the greatest actor of them all,” yet he was the unlikeliest of heroes. At 5-foot-3, Rooney was short, with sharp, elfish features and a lively, in-your-face personality more suited to selling used cars than starring in pictures. Still, during the Great Depression, when employment was scarce and the national mood was grim, audiences loved his down-home appeal.
Born Joe Yule Jr. in a Brooklyn, N.Y., apartment house on Sept. 23, 1920, Rooney made his first big appearance at 17 months old with his comic father and dancer mother’s vaudeville performances. “Performing”, Rooney told BackStage Magazine, was “in my blood. It’s who I am.”