Mickey Rooney: The Eternal Boy Wonder

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Mickey, Mickey, Mickey. They say that you have died, but I find this hard to believe for you are so alive in my memory.

There you are, in the big room of the Chamber of Commerce building on Sunset Boulevard in the summer of 1934, a little boy passing easily as a nine-year-old when you are really thirteen. You hand me your work copy of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, climb onto the banquette beside me, place your head upon my lap, and ask me to awaken you nine lines before your cue.

Seven decades later there you are, in the rehearsal room of the Kodak Theater on Hollywood Boulevard where 59 Oscar winners are gathering to rehearse their appearance at the Academy’s 75th anniversary broadcast.

I am early and already standing in my marks under D in line 1. You are early, too, and head to your own place which is alongside mine under R in line 2—but, seeing friends ahead, you go to greet them in your irrepressibly jovial way.

Only then do you return and look toward the entrance where new arrivals now appear.

I silently turn toward you, waiting for the moment I know will come. You sense something and glance briefly my way. Then you look again, recognition illuminating your face and tears springing to your eyes as you bound across the aisle, fling your arms around my waist, and pour forth lines of Shakespeare which are new to me but which come spontaneously to your lips as words meant for meetings like this one.

What a memory you have left with me to keep.

Olivia de Havilland won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1947 and 1950.

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