DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT THIS COVER!
Stunned? Shocked? Nauseated? This cover has that effect on people.
Take a moment. Compose yourself, then we'll move on.
I first found a copy of this album (SRS Records - see below) via eBay. Then to my delight (and sheer astonishment), I found the underwear version of Mickey's Christmas album (Timic Records) at Beverly Records in Chicago earlier this year.
The story of these albums and how it fits into the life story of Mickey Rooney is quite compelling.
Quick history lesson: Rooney was born into a family of vaudeville actors and made his stage debut at the tender age of fifteen months!
While on the vaudeville circuit, Mickey's mom answered an ad looking for boy actors in a fledgling operation known as "moving pictures". He won the part and between 1927 and 1936, he was known as "Mickey McGuire".
As Mickey approached adolescence, he moved over to MGM and became Andy Hardy, met Judy Garland, and became, in Mick's own words, "the biggest movie star in the world..."
Between 1940 and 1970, he continued to work with Judy Garland - "Judy and I were of one heartbeat" Mick claims over and over and over - did a stint in WWII, married and divorced both Ava Gardner and Martha Vickers, appeared on television shows, many B-movies and roles (who could forget his Japanese stereotype Mr. Yunioshi in "Breakfast At Tiffany's"? Me, for starters!), and married and divorced several more times.
By the end of the 1970s, Mickey was washed up - he even turned down the role of Archie Bunker. No jobs were forthcoming and Rooney had had more failed business ventures known to man. One was a restaurant trying to capitalize on his connection with "The Wizard Of Oz" - using the Munchkins as busboys, servers, even cooks. Another venture was an acting school called the Mickey Rooney School of Entertainment - sign me up!
This leads us to 1979. Mickey went into the recording studio to cut a Christmas album featuring several of his own compositions and underwear. According to The Record Robot, this album was home produced, available by mail order only, and even included a letter with each copy on Mickey's own stationery (home address included on the letterhead). Sadly, my album didn't include a letter or autograph.
Rooney's own compositions ("Mr. Wha-Da-Ya-Want", "Mickey's New Year", and "The Gift") lead off side one and are charming in their own weird way. Alternating between singing, screaming, and some deeply creepy weird kiddie like voices, Rooney takes command and sings the only way he knows how - all out and from the heart.
The rest of the covers and originals ("These Things Mean Christmas To Me" is a beautiful song) are listenable and sometimes incredibly short - the average length of a song on this album is around 2:15!
So where does the SRS ornament cover fit in? It's the same album - different packaging (although they kept the back liner notes written by Rooney's great friend Mel Torme). This leads me to ask - did the SRS version come before or after the Timic underwear version? Anyone have a clue?
Let's grab Judy, build a barn, and put on a show:
Mickey Rooney - Merry Merry Micklemas (Timic)
Mickey Rooney - Merry Merry Micklemas (SRS)
After this album was released in 1979, Rooney hooked up with Ann Miller and appeared in the musical "Sugar Babies" across the country, snagged an Emmy and honorary Oscar, appeared in many made-for-TV movies and shows (his failed TV show "One Of The Boys" featured two young co-stars named Dana Carvey and Nathan Lane!).
Rooney has been steadily reminiscing about Judy Garland and occasionally working since - he was last seen in Ben Stiller's "A Night At The Museum" and washing imaginary dishes in a life insurance commercial with his eighth wife Jan.