“Everybody was scared of Mannix,” she later told her biographer, Peter Evans.It didn’t matter that Rooney had cheated and lied; it didn’t matter that he was seeing a 15-year-old girl, using her older sister as the go-between.She followed this with a handful of appearances on episodes of shows like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and The Cleaner, eventually scoring a number of film roles, appearing in 2009's Tanner Hall, Youth in Revolt, and Friends (With Benefits).
It may seem disrespectful to dwell on this aspect of Rooney’s reputation so soon after his death, but it was hardly a secret in his lifetime: he was notorious. Rooney was 5ft 2in, red-headed and all teeth, the goofiest kid in California.” The question wasn’t entirely rhetorical, as he went on to explain: “I was a gnomish prodigy – half-human, half-goblin, man-child, child-man.” Those qualities were as nothing compared to his flirting technique, which he characterised as “a combination of early Neanderthal and late Freud”.It was this, perhaps, that led his lover and co-star Lana Turner to dub him, in reference to his best-known role as Andy Hardy, “Andy Hard-on”.There was plenty of escapism in Louis B Mayer’s Hollywood, but the Andy Hardy series was more than that. It's not too much to suppose he thought Mickey Rooney’s contribution was a matter of life and death.IN PICTURES: Hollywood star Mickey Rooney Which is why, when Ava Gardner had had enough of his philandering and kicked him out one night after he’d been showing off to his friends and leafing through his little black book of mistresses in her presence, she received a visit from MGM’s enforcer, Eddie Mannix.She appeared in Spike Jonze's Her and Steven Soderbergh's Side Effects, both in 2013.In 2015, Mara was controversially cast as Tiger Lily in Joe Wright's Pan.These women were always pitted against Andy’s ever-the-bridesmaid neighbour Betty, played by Judy Garland.(I’ve always thought that explained quite a bit about Garland’s insecurities: for years she was presented as the childish foil, while others her age rose to sensual stardom.) Of course, behind the scenes, Rooney understood modern girls plenty well enough. (Eventually, he would marry four times more.) But while his steady supply of pretty co-stars gave him ample extra-curricular opportunities, he also wanted to break out of his Andy Hardy prison and grow up. “It’s not your life,” Rooney reported Mayer as saying. Not simply the success of his business but the colour of his world.The mirror he held up to his adopted home was one of family ties and small-town ethics, of problems that could be solved in 91 minutes.Now the world was at war: it was even more crucial that Andy Hardy’s world view should reign.