This photo of Mickey Rooney was taken just last week. No, no…
Judy Garland’s pal from the Andy Hardy movies was also in vaudeville with his vaudeville parents. His father was Joe Yule (who later went on to a film career in his own right) and Mickey’s real name was Sonny Yule, Jr. — billed as “Sonny Yule”. He was born in a theatrical boarding house in Brooklyn on this day in 1920 and made his debut at the tender age of 15 months. Joe and wife Nellie soon dressed the tot in a tiny tuxedo and gave him songs to sing, such as “Pal O’ My Cradle Days”. When he could handle it, they gave me him a line of patter: “Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m going to sing. I’m going to dance. I want to spend my life entertaining you, and I’m going to start right now.” He kept his word.
When Sonny was about five, Joe, Sr. and wife Nellie separated. The child went with his mother to Hollywood to star in the Mickey McGuire series of silent film shorts, based on Fontanne Fox’s Toonerville Trolley comic strip. Now identified with the name Mickey McGuire but unable to use it for legal reasons, he became Mickey Rooney. The elf-like entertainer (he stood 5’ 3” at his tallest) passed away in 2014 at age 93
To find out more about vaudeville past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. And don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc