Oscar: Rooney, Mickey

Aware of their compensatory functions, most recipients of Honorary Oscars are sensitive about it. Mickey Rooney, a four-time nominee, was given the 1983 Honorary Oscar, in recognition of his sixty-year career, which began at the age of two.

Standing on the Oscar podium, Rooney recited all the awards he had recently received lest the Academy think it was doing him a favor. “I’d been the world’s biggest boxoffice star at 19 and, at 40, unable to get work,” Rooney said rather bitterly, reminding his colleagues of the inherent instabilities in his glamorous profession.