Dig the Mickster Hit Them Skins

Today is Mickey Rooney’s birthday. Despite the kid glove treatment I gave him in my thumbnail bio at this time last year, I must now confess to being one of the millions of Americans (a majority, I think you would find if you took a poll) who “can’t stand Mickey Rooney”. To flip Will Rogers on his head, I never met anyone who likes Mickey Rooney.*

Why? I dunno. The Bible explains mankind’s dislike of snakes with the story of Adam and Eve. Something instinctive, natural, rooted in our DNA, dating back to primordial times. Something about him. He’s always trying so hard to please…but the effects are so manic, mirthless, the effort so obvious. Also, a grown man should never be “cute”. More importantly, he should never be seen to think himself cute. Ugh.

At any rate…while he is clearly not the person doing the drumming on the soundtrack in this clip from Strike Up the Band (I’m hearing all sorts of things I’m not seeing), he is just as clearly actually playing. He can really play the drums and that’s cool! And this track is swinging to listen to. So I submit this clip for your approval rather than one of his usual nauseating song and dance numbers…

* Criswell Predicts expressions of outrage here from some representing the minority that do. It’s a free country. Why, some people even like to ride on the outside of subway cars!

To find out more about these variety artists and the history of vaudevilleconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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2 Responses to “Dig the Mickster Hit Them Skins”

  1. Oh, I think it probably was really him on the soundtrack. Naturally, it was pre-recorded, so the truly impressive feat was Mickey re-creating for the cameras as closely as he does his original studio performance. And he had to do it several times, to accommodate the numerous different angles and intercuts. Bravo, and happy birthday, Mick!

  2. I’d be interested to hear a professional drummer weigh in on the plausibility of this clip. It looked okay to me, but I’m not a drummer. As for the anti-Mickey sentiment, if it’s true it may explain something I’ve found puzzling: why Rooney never shows up on any lists of great film stars of the century. Ever. Even though he clearly deserves to. I happen to think he’s an awful human being off-screen. But on screen, at his best, he’s a dazzling performer whose “let’s put on a show” flicks with Judy are an essential part of the Hollywood legend. He’s also, incidentally, the last male icon of the Golden Age, one of the last silent stars period, and one of the only survivors of your vaudeville list.

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