Thursday, May 1, 2014

Saying Goodbye to Two of the Greats


Bob Hoskins (1942-2014)                  Mickey Rooney (1920-2014)

This Wednesday, I received a text as I was getting out of work. It was my sister informing me of the passing of an actor very endeared to me, Bob Hoskins. 

Hoskins was a British actor with the usual, long body of work, most of which I have never seen. Those of us who grew up in the 80's and 90's though, and probably every generation since, most likely know him best for the same two films, "Who Framed Roger Rabbit", in which he played the live-action lead of Eddie Valiant, private detective, and "Hook", in which he played Mr. Smee, sidekick to the title character. I am a huge fan of his work in both films, but it's the former that is most significant for me. "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" happens to be my favorite film of all-time.

"Hook", on the other hand, remains a favorite for most of us who saw it when we were still young or young at heart. Bob was perfectly cast in the Smee role. So perfectly, in fact, that he played Smee again 20 years later in the Syfy Channel TV movie, "Neverland", a prequel to the Peter Pan story (with some sci-fi mixed in), that is extremely good and I highly recommend. I had actually forgotten Bob was even in that one. I really need to add it to my collection. That's funny. I don't think he's been in a straight up version of Peter Pan as Smee, but he's been in both the prequel and the sequel, ha. 

Now, here's something I DO remember him doing...

Yes, Bob had the honor of being cast as Mario in the Super Mario Bros. movie in 1993! All I'll say about that is, flawed as it was, I remember finding it pretty entertaining, ha.

Another huge, fairly recent loss is one I was delayed in posting about until I forgot I hadn't done it already. I'll remedy that now, because even though I intended to lay off the obituaries for the most part, sometimes you just can't bare not to acknowledge the hole someone's passing leaves in the world. This year, we lost some pretty major screen legends; some of the last greats of old Hollywood. Early last month, Mickey Rooney left us. It's not just tragic because of what a treasure he and his work have been to us, but also because of the golden era he was one of the last to represent. 

You probably see his films all the time on TCM. Mickey Rooney was one of the first big child stars and teen heartthrobs. His charmingly innocent films of yesteryear are still such a joy to watch today, as hammy as his performances could sometimes be. But, when he wasn't doing comedy, he could do some powerful, tear-jerking stuff too.

But, again, I'm a Disney kid who grew up in the 80's and 90's. And, heck, I'll admit, I was born in the 70's. So, my first introduction to Mickey Rooney looked more like this...

To me, Mickey was Lampy in "Pete's Dragon" and the voice of adult Todd in "The Fox and the Hound". Outside of Disney, he was Santa Claus in the classic "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", and he continued working in film and television right up to the ending, with some films, like "A Night at the Museum 3", still in production. And, you may remember his cameo in "The Muppets" (2011). I believe his son or grandson or some sort of relative choreographed that one.

Of course, thanks to TCM, one of the best television networks we've ever had, and also thanks to their DVD releases, over the past few decades I've had the chance to get to know the classic work of Mickey Rooney a bit better. Most significantly, his work with Judy Garland. The two were best friends who starred in many films together, including some of the Andy Hardy comedy films Rooney was known for as a teen. They're all a delight to watch, and it doesn't hurt that I still have a thing for Judy circa this period of her work. Aside from Oz, I'm not really into her color stuff, but LOVE black and white Judy, my first live-action crush. Sorry, ha, don't mean to get sidetracked. I'll hopefully post a new Crush of the Week tomorrow.

Anyway, with that, we say adieu to two wonderful and unique talents, Bob Hoskins and Mickey Rooney. Tragic losses, but we will continue to appreciate and treasure the celluloid gifts you've left us with till the end of time.

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