UCLA lost big fan when Mickey Rooney died

Mickey Rooney attends the 82nd Academy Awards on March 7.
(Chris Pizzello / Associated Press)

John Wayne may have gone to USC, but UCLA certainly could match old-Hollywood star power with its crosstown rival.

The Bruins lost a big supporter when Mickey Rooney died last week. Many UCLA fans remember him as a sideline presence during games in the 1940s and 1950s.

Rooney even threw the Bruins a party for their first Rose Bowl appearance following the 1942 season. UCLA lost to Georgia in the game, but ended up at a swank hotel.

“Mickey Rooney knew one of the guys and was really attached to the team,” said Ed Tyler, who played on the 1942 team. “He and Ava Gardner rented the Cocoanut Grove ballroom at the Ambassador Hotel and threw us a big party after the [Rose Bowl]. I got to light Ava Gardner’s cigarette.”



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