Babes in Arms, 1939

When kids of show people are told they’re getting sent off to school while their song and dance parents are on tour, Mickey Rooney, as Mickey Moran, leads the children in a show that town will never forget. He enlists the help of a beautiful out-of-work child actor without realizing she’s probably going to ruin his relationship with his girlfriend Patsy Barton, played by Judy Garland.

Mickey Rooney started his film career in 1926, and at 91 years old, he’s still working today. That’s the longest career in film history, performances in each of ten decades. I’ve seen him in Manhattan Melodrama 1934, Captains Courageous 1937, Babes in Arms 1939, National Velvet 1944, Operation Mad Ball 1957, It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World 1963, The Black Stallion 1979, The Fox and the Hound 1981, and Night at the Museum 2006. When The Muppets releases this month, I will have seen him perform in films released in eight of the ten decades.

Margaret Hamilton played Martha Steele. This was the second time that year she played a villain opposite Judy Garland. Babes in Arms released just two months after The Wizard of Oz.

There were some very memorable musical moments in Babes in Arms. Because of his work in this film, Rooney became the first teen with an Oscar nomination for a leading role. With both Rooney and Garland growing up as child actors and short as adults, (Garland was just under five foot and Rooney was 5’2”), they were easy to cast as teens even after they were older.

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