It was a pleasure to know Mickey Rooney. I had seen him intermittently over the years, and, of course, family members knew him. What I did not know until our last visit is that Mickey Rooney was an Elvis fan!
The Mick was surprised to learn that I was kin to Elvis, and I, in turn, was surprised to learn that Mickey's late son, Timmy Rooney, was a student of karate with Elvis while the latter was living in California.
Sadly, Timmy Rooney died following a five year battle with dermatomyositis on September 24, 2006. His career as a child actor included films and TV shows but only after a miraculous recovery from childhood polio, which had left him paralyzed for two years. He and older brother, Mickey Rooney Jr. were two of Disney's original Mouseketeers in TV's original "The Mickey Mouse Club"
I had mentioned to Mickey that Elvis was a fan of Judy Garland, whom Mickey could barely speak of without tearing up. The question was if Elvis and Judy had ever performed together and the only answer I can give is that they may have rehearsed, or not, as Judy was slated to appear on Elvis' 1969 television event, and he was slated to appear on the Judy Garland show. No definite proof of either is obtainable other than word of mouth. Elvis did enjoy the "Wizard of Oz" and loved the song, "Over the Rainbow," which he sang in private, never recording it. Like me, he may have believed that the song always and forever belongs to Judy.
It is a fact that Elvis did meet Judy's fifth and final husband, Mickey Deems, when Deems managed the then famouse New York Discoteque, "Jillys." Elvis promised something to Deems in the way of memorabilia for a museum he (Deems) was opening, and gladly contributed a pair of Mardi Gras Mask cufflinks to the entreprenuer. I was privy to viewing these same cufflinks in a friend's private collection.
As for Mickey Rooney, I was even able to tempt him with an Elvis' family recipe for potato salad which I am sure he looked forward to trying. And Mickey didn't forget! Here is an excerpt from an email I received from Mickey and his then wife, Jan:
"SORRY I HAVE TO RUN..WILL CATCH UP ASAP WE WILL BE BACK SOMETIME IN JANUARY. PLEASE KEEP IN TOUCH.
P.S. WOULD STILL LOVE TO HAVE SOME OF THOSE ELVIS RECEIPES!! YUMMY!! THANK SO MUCH. HAVE A VERY HAPPY THANKSGIVING AND A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS XXOO"
The legend, Mickey Rooney, is gone now. He will be missed.
The late Tim Rooney, below, son of Mickey, was a friend of Elvis and often saw him when Elvis was living on Hillcrest Drive. They shared a love of karate and took some classes together.