Mickey Rooney on a couch.
In 2011, I attended the TCM Film Festival. It was my first, as I had missed the first one, and I arrived the Wednesday before the festival started. As I was checking in at the Roosevelt, a friend I was meeting there came running down the steps and said, “Mickey Rooney’s in the lobby! Waiting to do an interview with Robert Osborne!”
My friends and I hurried up the steps of the Roosevelt into the lobby, and we came to a TCM staffer encouraging people to sit with Mickey Rooney for photo ops on the couch. We didn’t know it at the time, but they were trying to keep him occupied until Robert Osborne (who was running late) arrived for their interview.
There were two people (who were together) in front of us, and we watched as Mickey chatted with them, very charmingly, and happily posed for photographs with them, and he seemed just so happy to be there. My friend Janet and I were next. Once the two people in front of us were finished, I crossed over, introduced myself and sat down, telling him what a big fan I was, and held my hand out to shake hands. He ignored it, but I thought “Oh he probably doesn’t do that for germ reasons like many people do.” My friend Laura snapped a picture, and she kept snapping away while I was there. Here we are, Mickey and I, on the couch.
Look how happy he looks. What a nice man. So funny, so endearing.
Then things got … well, weird.
After this picture was taken, he shouted out, “OK YOU’RE DONE!” among other sort-of-derogatory things. Ha ha. He’s SO funny. I think he’s kidding around, being fun with his fans. As evidenced by this photo:
Hmm. Clearly, he’s not kidding. See his hand? It’s on my back. In the process of pushing me off the couch. It was HILARIOUS!!! And he really did. He pushed me off. “You’re DONE!” I’m so glad Laura kept snapping photos.
My friend Janet was next. She sat down. He yelled out, “OH JESUS CHRIST. THERE’S ALWAYS **ONE** MORE!!” Her turn was equally as short with him but at least a) she got the picture, and b) she didn’t get shoved off the couch.
We were laughing SO HARD. It was glorious, really. I wasn’t annoyed at all. He was grumpy as all get-out, and what was even funnier was the poor TCM Staffer kept encouraging people to sit down. We just could NOT stop laughing. I said at the time, and each time afterward when I repeated this story, that he had every reason to be grumpy and he should have at it. He worked damned long and hard in this industry, and he was in the throws of a lawsuit he had to take out against his own family for elder abuse (which included, among other things, taking his money). I firmly believe that (elder abuse or not), when you get to be that age, you get to act any way you damn well please. And I loved him for it all the more.
And besides, “Mickey Rooney threw me off a couch once” makes for a FAR better story than “I got to have my picture taken with Mickey Rooney.”
An extraordinarily funny addition to this story is: Fast forward to this year’s TCM Film Festival: I happened to see Scott McGee, a TCM Producer, in the lobby on the Wednesday night prior to the start of the festival, and I flagged him down as he walked through the lobby. I followed him on twitter since the previous year’s festival, and I wanted to meet him, and thank him for the festival last year. During the short conversation we had, he said something to the effect of, “Are you excited for this year’s festival?” I said, “Well, I don’t know, last year Mickey Rooney threw me off a couch, so I don’t know if I can top that.” He said, “GET OUT! THAT WAS **YOU**???” I laughed SO hard. I could NOT believe he had heard that story. Apparently, a few people had witnessed it, and the story went ‘viral’, in Scott’s words. Ha! THAT was the highlight for me of this year’s festival. :)
Oh, and a highlight for me AGAIN? This tweet by none other than Mr. McGee this month, after it was announced that Mickey Rooney would be on the TCM Classic Film Festival Cruise this year:
Sadly, I won’t be on it, so there will be one less man-overboard signal.