young Lana Turner
If you happen to be a Mickey Rooney fan (I am most certainly not, by the way), then you should definitely not read his sleazy autobiography titled Life Is Too Short. I have and I wish I hadn’t. My reason for repeating a couple of excerpts here is simple. I think it is important that we fully understand what a grubby little pervert the guy was, and the best way to do so is to let his own words speak for themselves. Here are two partial quotes, one about Lana Turner, the other about Ava Gardner. The man’s obsession with sex is apparent. Regarding Lana, he wrote:
Her body said it all, and I got the message, loud and clear…the nicest knockers
I have ever seen. My fantasies about her soon came true…and I soon found out
that she was as oversexed as I was, warm, passionate, soft, and moist in interesting
places. (My italics)
The phrase ‘too much information’ springs to mind, but Rooney was just warming up. His lascivious description of his sex life with first wife Ava – and her private parts – was even more detailed. Creepy Mickey made sixteen Andy Hardy movies, the enormous popularity of which projected him as a wholesome, loveable, naive American boy. Lana knew different, telling friends the horny little egotist should have been named Andy Hard-on. Ava flatly refused to sleep with him unless they were married. She was just starting out, he was number one at the box-office, the perfect career stepping stone. Mayer tried to talk him out of marrying her, for one reason only. He was fearful a married Andy Hardy would impact badly on the box-office. ‘You only want to get into her pants’, he told Rooney. True enough. But Ava knew it, too, and held out for a wedding. The morning after they tied the knot he went off to play golf, his curiosity no longer aroused by his young wife.
Mickey & Ava newlyweds
He played the fame game for all it was worth, using his position as a top box-office draw to promise young starlets career opportunities, just to get them into the sack. He played Andy for the first time in 1937 when he was 17. The last was in 1958 when he was fast approaching 40. If ever anything demonstrated Hollywood humbug, the Andy Hardy series was it. On-screen Rooney continued to portray the innocent young youth, utterly baffled by the workings of a woman’s mind (and body), desperately seeking guidance from his father (the local judge), and naïve to the point of absurdity. Off-screen he was a rake, a self-centred serial philanderer who treated the opposite sex as his personal playthings. ‘He went through the ladies like a hot knife through fudge’, said Ava years later. Rooney wrote his autobiography when he was 71, in 1991. Here is part of what he wrote about his 19 year-old first wife:
We were both athletic in bed, and pretty verbal, too. Once Ava lost her Southern
reticence, she seemed to enjoy using the f-word. And I didn’t mind a bit, when, for
example, she would look me straight in the eye, raise a provocative eyebrow, and say,
‘Let’s fuck, Mickey. Now.’ Once Ava got into the spirit of things, she wanted to do it
all the time. And she quickly learned what it was that turned me on about her…coming
down to breakfast in a pair of shorts – and no top at all. In bed, let’s just say that Ava
was…well, she had this little rosebud down there at the center of her femininity that
seemed to have a life of its own, and I am not talking about muscles. One gal I knew
had trained her muscles, so that she could snap carrots in her pussy, not hands. But Ava
had something different. She had this little extra – it was almost like a little warm mouth –
that would reach up and grab me and take me in and make my, uh, my heart swell. She
also had big brown nipples, which, when she was aroused, stood out like some double-
long golden California raisins. And I sucked those warm breasts, I did taste her mother’s
Rooney as Andy Hardy
The marriage to Ava lasted a year or so. She ended it because she got sick and tired of her husband’s philandering. He was married to the love goddess of most men’s dreams, yet he simply could not stay true to her. In fact, he did not even try to. She threw him out one evening while he was leafing through a scrapbook of his mistresses, bragging about bedding each one to his cronies – in Ava’s presence. This, added to his seducing a fifteen year-old girl at the time, was the last straw. Ava demanded a divorce, but there was a problem. MGM fixers, Eddie Mannix and Howard Strickling, warned her not to mention any of Rooney’s lovers in her petition. He was still Andy Hardy and making millions for the studio. If she became responsible for his fans learning of his infidelities…well, she better not, that’s all. She agreed to cite ‘incompatibility’, the studio breathed a sigh of relief, signed her to a long-term contract (and a substantial pay-rise), and everybody was a winner. And Mickey’s hedonistic lifestyle scarcely missed a beat.
Back in the thirties Rooney had a serious run-in with LB Mayer, his boss, and again it was over women. One particular woman, in fact. MGM’s wonder boy Irving Thalberg, the studio’s 2IC, died from a heart attack in 1936, leaving behind his 34 year-old widow, the Queen of MGM, Norma Shearer. Three years later she was having sexual encounters with 19 year-old Rooney. Once again, in his autobiography, he took delight in portraying her on her knees in his trailer orally servicing him on a daily basis. When Mayer found out about it he hit the roof. ‘You’re Andy Hardy, for Christ’s sake!’ he roared. Rooney and Shearer desisted and he quickly moved on to seducing starlets closer to his own age bracket.
Actress Martha Vickers – one of the 8
Over his life Rooney’s marital record became a standing joke. He would marry eight times and divorce seven times. The duration of these unions were nearly always brief. In years: 1, 4, 3, 5, 7, 1, 5 and 36. Even his final marriage (the 36 year one) was on its last legs at the time of his death, he and his wife being estranged for some time. Rooney was a classic example of the vast gulf between an image orchestrated and projected for public consumption by a studio, and the real, sex-obsessed private life he (and studio fixers) hid from the world. Like a great many successful entertainers, Mickey Rooney was adored by a public that had no idea who he really was.
In his final years