Mickey Rooney visits Cullowhee

For those of you who were in the dark, Mickey Rooney, one of Hollywood’s last living legends, visited Cullowhee this past Sunday, Sept. 17 with his wife, Jan, to perform his latest one-man, one-wife show, “Let’s Put on a Show.” Rooney, originally named Joe Yule, Jr., began his 86-year acting career when he was only one year old. His father, Joe Yule, was a vaudeville actor and one day, while his father was doing a show, Rooney crawled behind him and sneezed. The spotlights turned to Rooney, who began to play his little toy harmonica. The audience laughed, and from that day forward, a star was born. Throughout his career, Rooney starred in over 250 films, his latest coming out in December of this year, won an Emmy, Honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement, a special Juvenile Oscar he shared with Deana Durbin in 1939, and two Golden Globes. But he’ll be the first to tell you his proudest achievement was when he was awarded his Bronze Star. This guy has done it all. He rubbed elbows with Marilyn Monroe – even gave her nickname when she was still Norma Jeane Baker – was best friends with Judy Garland and married eight times – one of his marriages only lasted 100 days! He’s been all over the United States and several other countries. So, why come to Cullowhee? “We’re coming because we love the state. North Carolina is one our favorites. We love the people, nice and courteous people,” said Mr. Rooney. “Let’s Put on a Show!” featured Mr. Rooney and his wife, Jan Rooney, and the lives they’ve shared. The program highlighted some of Mickey’s personal memories in show biz, and he even cracked a few jokes. “My hair used to be wavy. Now it’s just a beach,” cracked Rooney. Jan Rooney sang a few songs, including songs by Patsy Cline, with her husband of 34 years. Her voice sounded as strong as ever as she and Mickey sang, “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off.” A tribute to Judy Garland was also highlighted, complete with video clips. “It has its sad and happy moments, it’s a story enveloped around his life, so of course it’s going to have those emotions in it,” said Mrs. Rooney, who cracked on her husband a few times throughout the show. All in all, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. How many college students can say they shaked the hand of a man who once partied with Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe? Though the man’s way past his prime, don’t let that fact get you down – he certainly isn’t. He’s still kickin’ and with his new movie coming out in December, the world will know Mickey Rooney again. Mickey Rooney: living legend, survivor and actor.