Sugar Babies : . . . and Mickey Rooney Turns ‘35’


Mickey Rooney is preparing to celebrate his 70th birthday by putting 35 candles on the cake.

“On Sept. 23 I’ll be 70,” the veteran entertainer says, “but I feel like I’m 35.

“What’s the difference? Age is nothing but experience, and some of us are more experienced than others.”


There are two words the diminutive Rooney avoids: “age” and “work.” Not that he has an aversion to either, far from it. It’s just that “experience” and “fun” are more appropriate as far as he is concerned.

Rooney’s roller-coaster career has seen him as the hottest star in Hollywood at age 19, an out-of-work actor at 40 and a reborn star at 58 after making a fairy-tale comeback.

Along the way he has been married eight times and bankrupt once.

Now, the man who once said, “I’ve been through four publics. I’ve been coming back like a rubber ball for years,” is busier than ever.

But, despite making 26 episodes of a new TV series this year--with 52 on tap for next year--Rooney insists that he is not working.

“I love what I’m doing, so I’m not working. I’m having fun,” he says.

Rooney was Hollywood’s biggest box-office draw between 1939 and 1941, when he played the impetuous son of a small-town judge in the “Andy Hardy” film series.

With another child star, Judy Garland, he made such box office blockbusters as “Strike Up the Band” and “Babes in Arms.”

And, although he insists that “it doesn’t do to dwell on the past, you have to look forward to the future,” he has recently taken several trips down memory lane, including writing his biography, “Me, by Mickey Rooney,” which will be published next year.

He has also written a show called “Mickey and Judy” that he hopes to produce on Broadway in the next 18 months, with all the show-stopping numbers from the shows the two did together.

Rooney credits his eighth, and current, wife, Jan Chamberlin, for his latest success.

In 1983, when he received an honorary Oscar for “50 years of versatility in a variety of memorable film performances,” Rooney said, “When I was 19, I was the No. 1 star of the world. When I was 40, nobody wanted me. I couldn’t get a job.

“For seven years (Jan) kept saying, ‘You can do it, Mick. Get up off the canvas.’ ”

Rooney did, and became a knock-out success in the stage show “Sugar Babies,” with Anne Miller, which ran for 8 1/2 years.

In his new TV series, “The Adventures of the Black Stallion,” Rooney reprises the role of horse trainer Henry Dailey, which he played in the 1979 movie “The Black Stallion” and for which he received an Academy Award nomination.