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Rooney in the show's premiere episode, 1954.
Rooney in the show's premiere episode, 1954.

The Mickey Rooney Show (also known as Hey, Mulligan) is an American sitcom that aired from 1954 to 1955 on NBC. The series stars Mickey Rooney (in his first television role) who was particularly remembered for his starring role in numerous Andy Hardy films made between 1937 and 1958, which overlapped with Hey Mulligan.[1]


Rooney stars as Mickey Mulligan, an Irish American television studio page at the fictional International Broadcasting Company in Hollywood. Mulligan aspires through his night studies to become a recognized performer.

Regis Toomey played Mickey's father, Joe Mulligan, a veteran Los Angeles police officer. Claire Carleton was cast as his mother, Nell Mulligan, who in the story line is a former burlesque performer who met her husband when he arrested her. Mulligan lives at home and earns $47.62 per week as a page.[2] Carleton, however, was only seven years older than Rooney. Carla Balenda, formerly acting under her real name Sally Bliss, played Pat Harding, Mickey's girlfriend,[3] a studio secretary who encourages his acting aspirations. Comedian Joey Forman played Mickey's friend, Freddy Devlin, a fellow page. John Hubbard played the boss, Mr. Charles Brown. English actor Alan Mowbray played Mr. Swift, Mickey's drama coach.[4]

Production notes

The Mickey Rooney Show was created by Blake Edwards and Richard Quine, also a former child actor and a long-time Rooney friend.[4] The pair had previously co-written and directed Rooney's three feature films for Columbia Pictures, Sound Off, All Ashore and Drive a Crooked Road. The title first proposed for the series, For the Love of Mike, was dropped because it had already been registered. Rooney's career had begun to decline when he left full-time employment at MGM in 1948. The situation comedy emerged at a needed time in his career. Some people, including Rooney himself, speculated that his three stormy marriages by the early 1950s to actresses Ava Gardner, Martha Vickers, and Betty Jane Rase had marred his wholesome "Andy Hardy" image. (His fourth wife at the time, Elaine, was not an actress.) Although Rooney was thirty-four years old in 1954, his character Mickey Mulligan was only twenty-three.[2]


The series aired from August 28, 1954, to June 4, 1955 on Saturday evenings opposite the first half-hour of both CBS's The Jackie Gleason Show and ABC's The Dotty Mack Show, a low-budget novelty program in which Dotty Mack lip-synced many of the works of other singers.[5] Rooney's then-manager Maurice Duke had flatly predicted that the show would outperform Gleason's because Rooney had greater appeal to younger viewers. Rooney, who ended his business connection with Duke after the series folded, said, "I don't want to knock off anybody. All I want to do is put on a nice, funny show that people will like."[2]

NBC put great faith in the series because Rooney was not only its star but its executive producer who "writes the music, discusses gags with the director, and shakes hands with visitors on the set."[2] According to Brown, the failure of The Mickey Rooney Show was a line from the pilot episode; the result of Rooney have been "too small to be a wrestler and too big to be a puppet," or perhaps too old for the studio page role.[2]


Co-producer Maurice Duke hired Van Alexander, then an arranger at Capitol Records to score the show with an orchestra of 12 musicians. Though he had never scored for film or television, Rooney enjoyed the score and hired Alexander to do his next feature film The Atomic Kid that reused Hey Mulligan's director and writers. Alexander then scored seven more films for Rooney.[6]

DVD release

In June 2007, Timeless Media group released thirty episodes of the series on Region 1 DVD in the United States.

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