ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR) – He was a star of stage and screen, but Denny Reagan remembers part of a summer that Mickey Rooney spent in St. Louis.
‘He could act, he could sing, he could dance, he could play the piano and play the drums I’m told as well,’ says Muny President and CEO Denny Reagan.
Entertaining was in Rooney’s blood. Born in 1920, his father was a vaudeville comic and his mother a dancer. Years later he’d take his talents and what they taught him to the Muny stage in Sugar Babies in 1984.
‘I actually remember sitting out in the seats talking to him during a rehearsal,’ says Reagan.
Rooney was born Joe Yule Jr., in fact the Muny program lists his original name. The pint size performer made his stage debut as a toddler.
‘Three years old when he had his first appearance on a stage and went on to do 200 movies, and that’s a lot,’ says Reagan.
With a career in entertainment that spanned silent movies to most recently a night at the museum, Rooney was best known as a teen talent early on, becoming the number one moneymaking stars in the movies.
‘It was in 1939 where he beat out Tyrone Power. In 1940 he beat out Spencer Tracy and 1941 beat out Clark Gable,’ says Reagan.
While his 1984 visit to St. Louis was brief, Reagan says he made a big impact on everyone who met star.
‘I was walking through the theatre and I said, `Hi Mr. Rooney.` He said, ‘Hey why don’t you sit down here.’ We did and talked about him being on tour and what I admired about him and some of the roles he played,’ says Reagan.
For more than 80 years, whether it was the movies or the Muny, Mickey Rooney entertained millions around the world.