Breaking News Bar
updated: 4/7/2014 6:49 PM

Rooney death end of multiple eras for St. Charles businessman

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • Actor Mickey Rooney, a Hollywood legend whose career spanned more than 80 years, has died. He was 93. Los Angeles Police Cmdr. Andrew Smith said that Rooney was with his family when he died Sunday at his North Hollywood home.

      Actor Mickey Rooney, a Hollywood legend whose career spanned more than 80 years, has died. He was 93. Los Angeles Police Cmdr. Andrew Smith said that Rooney was with his family when he died Sunday at his North Hollywood home.
    Associated Press

  • In this June 26, 1963, file photo, Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney put their heads together over a television script for their first onstage reunion in 18 years, for the taping of the first of 32 variety shows which Garland will do for CBS next season.

      In this June 26, 1963, file photo, Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney put their heads together over a television script for their first onstage reunion in 18 years, for the taping of the first of 32 variety shows which Garland will do for CBS next season.
    Associated Press

 
 

As someone who has spent his life in the entertainment industry, Ron Onesti, the operator of St. Charles' Arcada Theatre, doesn't get star-struck. But when he learned of the death of Mickey Rooney he did pause to mark the end of an era and the loss of an icon who, for one week in St. Charles, reminded Onesti about what it once took to be a real entertainer.

Onesti booked Rooney, and his then-eighth wife, Jan, to perform at the theater about four years ago while the couple were touring with a multimedia career retrospective show.

Order Reprint Print Article
 
Interested in reusing this article?
Custom reprints are a powerful and strategic way to share your article with customers, employees and prospects.
The YGS Group provides digital and printed reprint services for Daily Herald. Complete the form to the right and a reprint consultant will contact you to discuss how you can reuse this article.
Need more information about reprints? Visit our Reprints Section for more details.

Contact information ( * required )

Success - request sent close

"I had heard stories about him being kind of ornery to work with," Onesti said. "But he turned out to be nothing but a sweetheart. He was both interested and interesting, and you have to remember he was 89 years old at the time."

Onesti spent several days with Rooney taking him on various press interviews and visiting local media outlets to promote the show. But the highlights of Rooney's visit included taking him to a meeting of Italian American War Veterans to share World War II war stories and a meal at Onesti's supper club where Rooney unexpectedly entertained guests with a performance on a 100-year-old piano.

"He was an entertainer that could do it all," Onesti said. "I put him in that same vein as Sammy Davis Jr. He was a very rare individual that was born into it. If you look at a picture of Mickey as a 5-year-old boy, you could just see he already had it. And then it just got better. ... Singing, dancing, telling jokes, telling stories, all the musicianship they had. Who do you see that in now? Gene Simmons? Justin Timberlake? That's who we have now."

Onesti said Rooney's death is notable not just for the loss of a great talent but for what Rooney represented in his final years.

"Mickey was there from practically the beginning of entertainment as we know it," Onesti said. "Think of the people he worked with, the people he had conversations and relationships with. In just my time with him he always had another story about Clark (Gable), or Spencer (Tracy) or about Judy (Garland) or even Marilyn (Monroe). This guy not only knew them all, he was respected by all of them."

Even younger people who might not be familiar with Rooney's work have to be impressed by his longevity in the industry, Onesti said.

"That's part of what makes him special," he said. "He was the last guy of many eras of entertainment who was still around. The John Wayne era. The gangster era. The 1960s "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" era. Everybody is gone. He was the last one. If there was anything that represented the days of the entertainment industry gone by, it was Mickey. And now that entertainment as we knew it is extinct."

Share this page
Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.
    help here