clark gable mickey rooney

From May 1939:

Clark Gable…played a very important part in Mickey Rooney’s career. No wonder Mickey wants to be just like him. It was about five years ago when Mickey was twelve, and on the verge of starvation. Vaudeville was a thing of the past, and Mickey couldn’t even get a job as an extra in Hollywood. He’d only worked about three days in three months. Then he had an idea. He called Clark Gable.

“Mr. Gable,” he said, “there’s a good part for a boy in ‘Manhattan Melodrama,’ and I’d give my shirt to play it. I’ve been acting since I was a baby–and I know I can do it swell.”

Gable liked Mickey and his straightforward approach. Sensing that there might be a lack of funds in the Rooney household, he delicately asked if a little loan might help. “Oh no, sir, Mr. Gable.” said Mickey with pride. “Mom and I are okay. You know–jobs have just been slipping out of my hands lately–you know how it is.”

Gable knew “how it is” perfectly. There had been a time when jobs slipped right out of his hands too. “Sure, kid,” said Clark Gable. He arranged for Mickey to get the part, and Mickey was swell, and it resulted in a long-term contract.

“[Mickey] likes Spencer Tracy best on the screen but in real life he patterns himself after Clark Gable,” says [a friend].


I don’t think that story is true, but makes a nice magazine fluff piece anyway!

mickey rooney

Mickey Rooney died yesterday  at the age of 93.

A screen legend, his acting career boasts over 300 credits. The people he met, the places he saw, the film sets he walked on to…seriously it is mind boggling. To name just a few, Mickey shared the screen with the likes of: Judy Garland, Ann Rutherford, Lana Turner, Spencer Tracy, Jean Harlow, Elizabeth Taylor, William Powell, Robert Young, Mary Astor, Warren William, Ginger Rogers, Robert Montgomery, Gloria deHaven, Maureen O’Sullivan, Rosalind Russell, Audrey Hepburn, Wallace Beery, Dolores Costello, Lionel Barrymore, Franchot Tone, Frank Morgan…the list goes on and on and ON.

mickey rooney ann rutherford lana turner

In the middle of Ann Rutherford, Judy Garland and Lana Turner…not a bad place to be

Mickey and Judy Garland at their best, singing “Our Love Affair”


And yes–Clark Gable is one of Mickey’s many co-stars. Mickey was quite fond of Clark and looked up to him. One of Mickey’s early film roles was portraying Clark’s character as a child in Manhattan Melodrama. You can watch the opening scene with Mickey here.

Here’s a newspaper blurb from 1940:

When Clark Gable and Lionel Barrymore heard Mickey Rooney was going to impersonate them in “Babes in Arms”, they went to the set  to try and avert libel at the hands of the irrepressible Rooney.

In the scene in question, Mickey played two parts, those of “Cleopatra’s Uncle Lionel” and “Clark Anthony”. June Pressier was Cleopatra.  Mickey laid it on thick. Then he turned to the two stars for their opinion.

“Not bad,”said Barrymore.

Gable remained silent. “What do you think, Clark?” urged Rooney.

“Well, Mickey, I’ll tell you,” said Gable, with his usual tact. “One of us must be rotten.”


Mickey also impersonated Clark in Thousands Cheer (1943) and apparently would also impersonate him sometimes in his road show. I tried to find a clip from either film but unfortunately I can’t.

So sad that we lost the two youngsters in the middle of this picture already this year…


Scenes from an amazing life….

mickey rooney

mickey rooney ava gardner

with first wife Ava Gardner

with Charlie Chaplin

with Charlie Chaplin

with Judy Garland

with Judy Garland

with Judy Garland and their mothers

with Judy Garland and their mothers

mickey rooney lois ransom

mickey rooney sheila ryan

Mickey and Sheila Ryan

mickeyrooney (2)

Rest in peace, Mick. You’re among friends now….

clark gable carole lombard spencer tracy

From September 1940:

Living in Hollywood is more or less like renting a perpetual reserved room in a madhouse. At 8am of a Sunday this journalist drove to Fox Hills golf course for his usual weekly game, still half asleep. Approaching the first tee he saw  a mob of strange creatures emerge from the morning fog, accompanied by unearthly sounds of catcalls, screeching sirens and exploding guns. Any sane person would have gone home.

We hung around. Presently there appeared Clark Gable, Bob Taylor, Carole Lombard, Mickey Rooney, Spencer Tracy and other celebrities. It turned out to be the annual MGM golf tournament. When Mickey stepped up for his first drive, his boss L.B. Mayer, smothered Mickey with a smoke machine, and after five swings Mickey produced a tremendous explosion. The gold ball was filled with prop department explosive. After that he was chased down the fairway by gangsters hotting blank cartridges.

Only Bob Taylor survived this monkey business. He hit his drive 281 yards, proving that if he can do that well he’d better take a smoke machine all the way around the course with him. Less cool was Clark Gable, who wound up with a score of 92, which isn’t much gold for a man of Mr. G.’s calibre. We didn’t mind missing golf for a day, had a swell time, but hope it doesn’t happen again next week.

Some of my favorite finds when I am scouring through old fan magazines are candids of random stars together. “I never knew that Blank ever even met Blank!” I often think, particularly now during “awards show season”, how the generations to come won’t feel similar joy, since there are thousands of pictures taken at every red carpet event, awards show and party and so thus the surprise of seeing stars posing together has dwindled.

Here are some shots of Clark with other Tinseltown folk…

clark gable robert taylor

with Robert Taylor

george burns gracie allen clark gable

with George Burns and Gracie Allen

clark gable errol flynn

with Errol Flynn

clark gable judy garland

with Judy Garland

clark gable margaret o'brien

with Margaret O'Brien

mickey rooney clark gable

with Mickey Rooney

marlene dietrich clark gable

with Marlene Dietrich

paulette goddard clark gable

with Paulette Goddard

jack lemmon clark gable

with Jack Lemmon

marilyn maxwell clark gable

with Marilyn Maxwell

roy rogers clark gable

with Roy Rogers

clark gable ann dvorak

with Ann Dvorak

clark gable susan peters

with Susan Peters

clark gable elizabeth taylor

with Elizabeth Taylor

clark gable ginger rogers

with Ginger Rogers

clark gable ann sheridan

with Ann Sheridan

clark gable shirley temple

with Shirley Temple

clark gable jayne mansfield

with Jayne Mansfield

clark gable marie dressler

with Marie Dressler

clark gable katharine hepburn

with Katharine Hepburn

clark gable james stewart

with Jimmy Stewart


nancy davis clark gable

with Nancy Davis

gary cooper clark gable

with Gary Cooper

clark gable bette davis

with Bette Davis

clark gable spencer tracy robert taylor william powell

with Spencer Tracy, Robert Taylor and William Powell

See more in the gallery.

Clark Gable

From a fan magazine, here are hand-signed holiday wishes from several stars of the golden era, including Olivia de Havilland, Claudette Colbert, Mickey Rooney, Ronald Reagan, Jane Wyman, Jeanette MacDonald, James Cagney, Ann Sheridan, Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant and more. No, Clark and Carole aren’t included, but I thought it a cute holiday gift nonetheless! Happy Holidays everyone!

Click to enlarge:

Clark Gable Hedy Lamarr

From July 1940:

On the set of “Boom Town”, Mickey Rooney dropped by for a visit with his idol, Clark Gable. Gable was doing a scene with Hedy Lamarr, in which the weeping actress threw herself down on a couch. Gable was supposed to come up to Hedy, pat her on the shoulder and tell her how much he loved her. The scene was just getting underway when Mickey arrived on the set, and Gable motioned to him to take his place. Imagine Hedy’s surprise when she heard Mickey’s voice, quivering from sheer nerves, saying, “I love you.” She turned quickly and burst into laughter, which Mickey blushed to the roots of his blonde hair. “That’s all right, Mickey,” said Hedy. “You sound a lot more convincing than Clark.”

The Academy Awards are tonight, so I thought I would post something about the night “Gone with the Wind”won it big–February 29, 1940 at the now-destroyed Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles. Clark didn’t win that night; the only black spot on an otherwise glorious night for the film.

The one thing about that evening that has always puzzled me is the lack of pictures of Clark and Carole at the Academy Awards. There are none. Zilch. Zero. I understand Clark didn’t win, but how can there be no photos? I am a Clark photo fanatic, as is evident by the thousands of pictures in the gallery, and I have never come across one. I have bought up just about every fan magazine from 1940 in hopes of finding one and I never have. I even asked Herb Bridges, the author of several GWTW books and pretty much the world’s #1 Windie. He thought about it  aminute and said, “You know, you’re right. I have never seen one either. Wonder why that is?”

 I will not give up the hope however! One day I will find it!

In the meantime, here’s a piece on the 1940 Academy Awards that ran in Modern Screen Magazine in May 1940:

The Night of the Oscars

Each year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences distributes about 12,000 ballots to people connected with the motion picture industry. Members of the Screen Actors’ guild are invited to vote on the outstanding acting performances of the year, members of the Writers’ Guild on the outstanding writing jobs, and so on. Then, to avoid cries of “Fake”, the Academy requests that all voters return their ballots not to them, but to the accounting firm of Price, Waterhouse & Co. There, they are properly audited and a member of the firm reveals the results three hours before the awards are made. Not even the President of the Academy knows who the winners are going to be. Despite these precautions. the awarding of this year’s “Oscars” stll looked like a planned affair, with the King of England and David O. Selznick the principal conspirators–for Vivien Leigh and Robert Donat, two of His Highness’ loyal subjects, took the highest acting awards, while Mr. Selznick’s “Gone with the Wind’ strutted off with almost everything else.

Fay Bainter turns over one of the coveted “Oscars” to Hattie McDaniel, who received the supporting actress award for her performance as “Mammy” in GWTW. This marks the first time a member of her race has been honored by the Academy.


Producer Selznick and his prize-winning Vivien Leigh meet at the Cocoanut Grove to accept the year’s highest awards. Though Robert Donat took top male honors for “Goodbye, Mr. Chips”, GWTW received 9 of the 21 awards.


Veteran Award-Winner Spencer Tracy, who left a sick bed to make some of the presentations, congratulates Thomas Mitchell. 44-year-old Mr. M received the supporting actor award for his outstanding work as the doctor in ‘Stagecoach.”


Mickey Rooney puts his own stamp of approval on Judy Garland, who was given a special statuette for “Outstanding Performance of a Juvenile”.


Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. accepts the statuette awarded his father for “Outstanding Contribution to International Development of Motion Pictures”.



Since Mickey Rooney is TCM’s Star of the Month this month…

From December 1938:

Mickey Rooney’s one proud guy. He’s going around telling everyone that Clark Gable’s bought a car just like his, after a ride with Mickey. It’s true the cars are just alike–a low-priced coupe. Clark liked Mickey’s a lot, and that was a factor, he admits. But the principal reason he doesn’t use his $3,500 roadster is because he and Carole are always recognized. It’s got to the point where they even want privacy en route.


New this week:

Pictures in the gallery

I’ve got a TON of new updates for the site that I am working on for the end of the year so stay tuned!


From February 1937:

Outside the commissary at MGm we saw Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable and about forty other big stars and directors huddled in a group around something, so interested and awed by what they saw that their mouths were practically hanging open down to their knees. After forcing our way through to the center of the group to see wgar so fascinated these sophisticates, we discovered that Mickey Rooney was keeping them all agog with his skill at hi-li, that little game where you hit a ball against a paddle. All were clamoring for the first chance to try it after Mickey got through!

Mickey and Clark had a sort-of friendship.  Mickey apparently idiolized Clark which Clark at first found flattering then irritating. Mickey is one of the few classic stars alive and well today. No word on if he still plays hi-li!

New this week:

Pictures in the gallery