Bob passed away on September 27, 1981. The picture below is the view from the terrace of his last home, Hollow Brook Farm in Canaan Valley, Ct. In the April, 1992, issue of Architectural Digest, Brendan Gill wrote an article on Bob, which ends with the following tribute:
"For a conservative Republican from an old family, Montgomery possessed a rather moody restlessness of spirit. At a certain point as he grew older, nothing would do but that he and Buffy sell the Hook Pond property and move on to new adventures --- in summer, a place on the water in North Haven, Maine, and in winter a beautiful ancient farmhouse in the Canaan Valley, in northwestern Connecticut. It was there in 1981, a short drive from the big family house overlooking the Hudson at Fishkill, that Montgomery died. He had played many roles in his long lifetime, off-camera and on-; in age, the slender playboy of Our Blushing Brides had become a no-longer-slender country squire, but the grace of the performer remained what it had always been: a prompting to merriment, an occasion for applause."
Mickey Rooney turned 92 years young yesterday, which means he has been in show business for over 90 years, a career that has extended over 10 decades! Now that's impressive. As a young man he possessed a boundless energy that I am sure has kept him going all this time. Just in case you haven't seen them, a couple recommendations for a movie to watch to get some idea of Mickey's talent. Check out A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935) to watch Mickey at his most frantic as the fairy Puck. At the other end of the spectrum, there is The Human Comedy (1943) wherein Mickey gives possibly his best and most restrained performance as the youth who supports his family on the home front during WWII. And to give you a good idea of a typical Mickey Rooney role, watch Hide-Out (1934) with Mickey playing the young brother of Maureen O'Sullivan who pesters everyone, including Robert Montgomery.
Hide-Out (1934), The Mick with Maureen O'Sullivan
On a purely personal note, back in the 80s I was watching a movie in a small theater in Thousand Oaks, CA, which had maybe a dozen customers for a weekday matinee. A short time into the movie, an old man sitting four rows behind my spouse and me began discussing the performances with his partner, a loud discussion he was sharing with the entire audience. Not being very patient with people who disturb me in a theater, I turned around and asked/told him to in effect, SHUT UP! He did, the movie went on to its peaceful conclusion and we got up to leave. There was the old man, already walking out and almost to the exit. He looked familiar. We followed him out in time to see him get into this humongous white cadillac with the license plate, THE MICK. Yeah, I told Mickey Rooney to shut up ... and he did. Sorry, Mick.
It was a quite different pairing from Bob and Joan Crawford, but equally great. Instead of Bob being protected by Joan, Bob got to be the beautiful, young protector to Dorothy. Dorothy quit the movies in 1933, got married, had three children and stayed married to the same man until his death forty years later. Good for her. Just glad she stayed in the movies long enough to co-star with Bob in Love in the Rough and Shipmates. The photos of them are all priceless.
Robert Benchley was one funny man ... a humorist, prolific essayist and, for all too few times, a delightful scene-stealing movie co-star.
With Bob in the drinking scene in Piccadilly Jim, an easy chore for Robert, who knocked down a few in his life.
Being adorable with Rosalind Russell and Helen Vinson in Live, love and learn.
And on a totally personal note, a big Happy Birthday to my Big Bro, David ... Love ya' ... your always Baby Sis.
Bob and Joan had it, individually and together. The magical "it" factor, difficult to define. But everyone who has sat in a darkened theater and been overwhelmed by the entrance on screen of a Bob or Joan has been touched by it. Has felt it. Has longed for it.
I'm late with this photo...Bob was definitely not arriving at the Democratic Convention. Officially, he's headed for the Republican Convention to help Eisenhower with his speech. Unofficially, I'm guessing he was just taking advantage of the opportunity to wear his favorite straw hat.
Not counting They Were Expendable, I had not seen a photo of Bob wearing dress whites until I ran across this recently. It's July 30, 1943, Bob is in Chicago to serve as master of ceremonies at a naval show. I'd say it was worth the wait.