A definitive biography of the iconic actor and Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney (1920-2014) and his extravagant, sometimes tawdry life, drawing on exclusive interviews, and with those who knew him best, including his heretofore unknown mistress of sixty years.
“I lived like a rock star,” said Mickey Rooney. “I had all I ever wanted, from Lana Turner and Joan Crawford to every starlet in Hollywood, and then some. They were mine to have. Ava [Gardner] was the best. I screwed up my life. I pissed away millions. I was #1, the biggest star in the world.”
Mickey Rooney began his career almost a century ago as a one-year-old performer in burlesque and stamped his mark in vaudeville, silent films, talking films, Broadway, and television. He acted in his final motion picture just weeks before he died at age ninety-three. He was an iconic presence in movies, the poster boy for American youth in the idyllic small-town 1930s. Yet, by World War II, Mickey Rooney had become frozen in time. A perpetual teenager in an aging body, he was an anachronism by the time he hit his forties. His child-star status haunted him as the gilded safety net of Hollywood fell away, and he was forced to find support anywhere he could, including affairs with beautiful women, multiple marriages, alcohol, and drugs.
In The Life and Times of Mickey Rooney, authors Richard A. Lertzman and William J. Birnes present Mickey’s nearly century-long career within the context of America's changing entertainment and social landscape. They chronicle his life story using little-known interviews with the star himself, his children, his former coauthor Roger Kahn, collaborator Arthur Marx, and costar Margaret O’Brien. This Old Hollywood biography presents Mickey Rooney from every angle, revealing the man Laurence Olivier once dubbed “the best there has ever been.”
William J. Birnes, PhD, publisher of UFO Magazine, is the coauthor of the New York Times bestseller The Day After Roswell with the late Lt. Col. Philip J. Corso; the coauthor of The Riverman and Signature Killers with Robert Keppel, Ph.D.; and the editor-in-chief of The McGraw-Hill Personal Computer Programming Encyclopedia. Dr. Birnes lives in Los Angeles and New York with his wife, novelist Nancy Hayfield.
"Covers everything...Lertzman and Birnes are deeply and appropriately sympathetic biographers."
– The New York Times
"A definitive biography of Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney...[T]his is a page-turner; many of the people portrayed are long gone, but there's enough tell-all entertainment to keep almost any reader pushing through."
– Publishers Weekly
"Richard A. Lertzman and William J. Birnes have done their homework...If you’re looking for the definitive book on Mickey Rooney, this is it."
"Lertzman and Birnes understand Rooney, presenting him as a colorful American guy who had it all, lost it all, regained it all, but no matter what, never gave up. It’s the story of a true professional, and a great read by anyone’s standards."
– Jeanine Basinger, Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, Wesleyan University