Mickey Rooney was considered a prodigy, able to do it all – act, sing, dance. Judy Garland was considered the next big female star when she showed off her talents and sang “You Made Me Love You” (Dear Mr.Gable) in “Broadway Melody of 1938" (1937). When Mickey and Judy were paired for ‘Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry” (1937), they formed a strong friendship, as well as cinematic partnership that enabled them to make ten classic films together.
Before their onscreen collaboration, both attended Lawlor Professional Children’s School. They did not actually meet, however, until Judy was punished one day for disrupting class. She was sent to the cloakroom where another troublemaker was hiding in there as well – Mickey. From that day, they became fast friends. Mickey gave Judy the nickname “Joots.”
“Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry” (1937) was their first film together. Judy played the role of Cricket and sang “Got A Pair of New Shoes.” Mickey played Roger. Their next film together was “Love Finds Andy Hardy,” (1938) of the famed Andy Hardy series that starred Mickey in the title role.
When “The Wizard of Oz” (1939) was released, Judy and Mickey toured together to promote that film as well as their “Babes in Arms” musical. Mickey would present Judy with her very special Oscar for Best Juvenile Performance that year. They were at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre together when Judy set her hands and feet in cement. There were more Andy Hardy pics, “Andy Hardy Meets Debutante” and “Life Begins for Andy Hardy,” and musicals “Strike Up the Band,” “Babes on Broadway” and “Girl Crazy” (1943). Their final screen appearance was “Words and Music” (1948). Judy had a brief appearance in this film where Mickey played Lorenz Hart of the famous songwriting team of Rodgers and Hart. They sang the beautiful song, “I Wish I Were in Love Again.”
It was not until June 24, 1963, nearly twenty years since the public had seen Mickey and Judy together, did they appear together again in the “The Judy Garland Show” with Mickey as Judy’s special guest. “He’s the genius who taught me everything I know. I think he’s the world’s greatest talent,” Judy has commented about Mickey.
Separately, their lives paralleled. They each suffered through several failed marriages. Each struggled with addiction to drugs. Mickey recovered from his battle with drugs and tried to help Judy. Nevertheless, Judy would eventually lose that battle.
When Judy’s death shocked the world on June 22, 1969, Mickey attended the viewing at the funeral home but was too devastated to attend the service. The eulogy, intended to be read by Mickey, was read by Judy’s co-star from “A Star is Born,” James Mason, When asked recently about Judy, Mickey comments, “She’s the greatest performer. No one has been her equal.”