On Sunday, Hollywood actor Mickey Rooney died at the age of 93. He was with his family when he passed away at his North Hollywood home.
“He was a tremendous talent, and someone at 5-foot-tall that everybody looked up to,” actor Billy Crystal said on Monday. Rooney had a long, successful career on stage and screen, one that included reigning as the top moneymaking movie star from 1939 to 1942 (his streak came to a halt when he enlisted in the Army). He starred in films such as Love Finds Andy Hardy, alongside Judy Garland, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s (in which he—nowadays notoriously so—played a full-throttle Japanese caricature).
Rooney was also a friend of actor-turned-most-powerful-man-in-the-world Ronald Reagan. Below is one of President Reagan’s letters to Rooney and his wife Jan, written in 1985. The president invited the couple to a White House dinner. Rooney couldn’t make it, and wrote back, “Damn it! It’s always when I’m working, but thank goodness that I am.” Here is Reagan’s reply, in which he writes about the time he and Mickey Rooney met:
Dear Jan and Mickey,
Sorry you can’t make it June 12th but you have an ongoing rain check. While we’ll miss you we’re happy you are working ’cause that means pleasure for a lot of people.
Mickey I’ll bet you don’t remember the first time we met. The year was 1937 or thereabouts. I was new in Hollywood living in the Montecito apartments. Someone had run over a dog in the street outside. You came in to look for a phone book so you could find the nearest veterinarian and take the dog to him. I figured this had to be a nice guy and I was right.
Nancy sends her best and so do I.
Sincerely, Ronald Reagan
Click here to read another one of President Reagan’s letters to Rooney.