Cinema: Success Story

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Mom adores Mickey and Mickey adores Mom. She is very proud that Mickey takes her (instead of one of his pretty young things) to big Hollywood affairs like the Academy awards dinner (TIME, March 11). Of course, she knows his taking her does no harm to the legend of Mickey Rooney the typical American Boy. Mom welcomes any pretext to show admirers Mickey's baby clothes, his first shoes and rubbers, which she has kept carefully all these years. She also keeps carefully the half of all Mickey's earnings which (by California's Jackie Coogan law) goes to her. Three years ago, Mom remarried—dark-haired, good-looking Fred Pankey, an accountant at MGM, who also lives at the Rooney home—El Ranchito.

Frequent visitor to Mickey and the Pankeys is Mom's ex-husband, Mickey's father, Joe Yule, with whom Mickey sometimes goes to the fights. Mickey had little trouble persuading MGM to hire his father for pictures after Joe Yule had been hoofing at a downtown Los Angeles burlesque house, billed as "See Mickey Rooney's Father." By hiring his father, the studio also hoped to end Mickey's backstage visits to the burlesque house.

Joe Yule is remarried too. and the somewhat jumbled Yules and Pankeys have great times together. Accountant Pankey is reported to make out Joe Yule's pay check over at MGM. Mickey's step father does Joe Yule's boy a good turn too sometimes, by driving the 40-mile round trip to Pasadena, picking up Mickey's dates for him when Stepson Rooney is too busy.

Young Tom Edison. Mickey walks through his Hardy pictures, sometimes arrives for rehearsal with only the faintest notion of his lines. But he gives his big pictures everything he has. And he has been getting bigger and better pictures — Stablemates (with Wallace Beery, who calls Mickey "a brat" but "a fine actor") ; Boys Town (with Spencer Tracy, who does not call Mickey anything) ; Babes in Arms (the musical with Judy Garland).

Last week Mickey got new fame and a new name when MGM released his most important picture to date — Young Tom Edison.

It took 75 years for the Lincoln legend to develop to the point where playing Abraham Lincoln (in Abe Lincoln in Illi nois) could be a peak in the career of an actor like Raymond Massey. The Edison legend is just beginning in the movies which Edison invented. What the rest of the legend would be like depended in part on who interpreted the first installment.

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