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Andy Hardy. Four more Hardy pictures were made and Mickey found himself with an income of some $1,000 a week and $10,000 bonus per picture. In rapid succession he acquired a list of good things that would stagger the imagination of the dreamiest moppet in the highest hayloft on the hottest day. Items: a ranch, a race horse, a twelve-room home, 19 radios, a jazz band, two dogs, the junior singles tennis championship of the Pacific Southwest, a wardrobe like Clark Gable's, two automobiles, a hideaway apartment in Beverly Hills, a football team, a colored valet, a collection of pipes, a golf score in the 80s, an Oscar, the authorship of three nationally popular songs, a guitar, saxophone and two pianos, a set of stooges including two U. S. C. football players, a kiss from Bette Davis, a crown from Ed Sullivan, a broken leg, 80 chickens, three turkeys, three ducks, three geese, six canaries and a parrot.
He also acquired a reputation for liking the girls and having a swelled head.
Reports of his heart affairs were fabulous. Mickey Rooney had lived backstage from the time he was two months old, and his approach to tabooed topics was decidedly more worldly and realistic than that of the average boy of his age. He discussed the first stirrings of his young libido with a candor that amazed even the publicity boys. Soon one of the most popular of Hollywood indoor sports was to uncork Mickey Rooney, let him spill his thoughts on forbidden subjects. Wild, baseless rumors began to be gaily whispered around that made Master Mickey look like Hollywood's leading roue. His fresh-guy impersonations on the screen contributed their bit.
Suddenly MGM took fright. The studio became acutely aware that their most valuable property was in danger of becoming tagged as a pinchbeck, cocksure, juvenile Don Juan.
There were lectures, an enormous publicity campaign to rehabilitate and sell Master Rooney as the typical American boy. It has been highly successful and is still carrying on. So is Mickey Rooney.
But for his public's sake publicity-wise Mickey now keeps his private life reasonably private. He even endures the presence of the husky attendant whom MGM has appointed to keep him out of trouble.
Not all Mickey's coetanes are equally fond of him. It is no secret that between Master Rooney and Master Jackie Cooper (another virtuoso of swing) no love is lost. When Dead End Kids Huntz Hall and Gabriel Dell got to Hollywood, both offered to fight Mickey immediately.
Their challenge was never honored though husky Mickey might easily take either of them.
Alone, Mickey likes to run down to Santa Anita for the races on which he fancies himself quite an expert. There are indications that he has ambitions to acquire a stable. Whether he does or not, Mom will have something to say about it.
Greying now, but still spry of step and wrinkleless of face, Mom keeps a close watch over Mickey's affairs.