Larry Provost

Actor Mickey Rooney was a man of great patriotism and faith. These were his greatest roles.

The number one box office star in America during the greatest years of the Hollywood Golden Age, 1939-1941, was not Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, Judy Garland, or even Jimmy Stewart. It was Mickey Rooney.

Rooney died Sunday at age 93. His acting career, begun on Vaudeville and matured in Hollywood, spanned over 90 years and ten decades. Mickey Rooney starred in over 300 films and was one of the last surviving stars of the silent film era. Rooney was awarded an Honorary Oscar in 1939 for his teenage roles and a lifetime achievement award in 1983. For years he was also the last surviving star portrayed in 1941’s Hollywood Steps Out; one of the first color cartoons.

However, these were not Rooney’s greatest roles. At the height of his career Rooney joined the United States Army in World War II. Like other Hollywood stars, such as Jimmy Stewart and Clark Gable, Rooney went from making millions of dollars a year to low pay (50 dollars a month as a buck private) in the Army. He went into Special Services, entertaining soldiers in the European Theatre and was awarded a Bronze Star before being discharged as Sergeant Mickey Rooney.

Giving up his Hollywood career during the war, along with no longer being a teenager that audiences knew, led to a nosedive in Rooney’s career. Continued failed marriages and bankruptcies availed him. Drinking became his calling card.

An experience in a casino where a man (whom Rooney believed was angelic) told him that Jesus loved him, changed his life. Mickey Rooney developed into an unabashed Christian and boldly spoke of how Christ and faith were needed in Hollywood. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZU8gJkY1A2w

He also became a life long advocate for supporting the military. Rooney was a lifelong member of American Legion Post 43 in Hollywood, proudly sporting his American Legion cap and speaking at countless USO and other Veteran events. Rooney also became an advocate for the elderly and urged young people to take in the wisdom of older people. He also never quit working and at age 93 was recently filming scenes for the film Night at the Museum 3, scheduled for release in December of this year.

Mickey Rooney was the first to tell the world that he was not perfect. Despite family intrigue and infighting in his last few years, Mickey Rooney remained bold and steadfast about his love of country and faith. These were his greatest roles and in these Mickey Rooney, starred, and finished, well.


Larry Provost

Larry Provost currently works at The American Legion in the National Security and Foreign Relations Division.