Rooney celebrates 80th in vodvil style

Army Archerd is on vacation
GOOD MORNING: Step out of the spotlight for a minute, Tom, Brad, Leonardo, Keanu — tomorrow is the 80th birthday of Mickey Rooney. And what’s he doing? He’s working. I talked to Mickey, who will be celebrating on stage at Sandusky, Ohio’s historic State Theater, once one of the classiest vodvil houses, beautifully restored 10 years ago. Vodvil is where Rooney got his start — reportedly at the age of 2, coming out of the trunk on stage with his dad, Joe Yule Sr., and mom. The State is planning a big bash for Rooney appearing there with wife Jan in the act they have been taking around the country. Congrats are coming in from everyone, including Bill Clinton and MGM alums like Ann Miller, Donald O’Connor — and, of course, from Elizabeth Taylor, who costarred with Mickey in “National Velvet.” She writes: “You were so wonderful, kind, and inspiring to me. You took time out to be especially nice to a 12-year-old kid and I’ll never forget it or be able to thank you enough for it. I loved you then and I love you now.” Mickey told me that film was one of his favorites (of the 355 he made) … He loves Elizabeth but admits “Judy was the best.” He was nominated for four Academy Awards and received two special Oscars, one “in recognition for his 60 years of versatility in a variety of memorable film performances.” His life has been part of Hollywood’s history; he’s had eight wives, starting with Ava Gardner, and nine children. He made hundreds of millions for his employers (and race tracks!) but once had to declare bankruptcy … He’ll be seen on screen in the Disney Channel’s “Phantom of the Megaplex.” And he is happily looking forward to future dates with wife (of 25 years) Jan at Laughlin, Nev., Ramada Express Oct. 14-15 and others across the country. He sings, dances, gives imitations of his MGM pals, Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart and Jimmy Durante. Jan piped up, “And he brings down the house.” Mickey, you always did.

IN ANOTHER TRIBUTE to a class act(or): The Smithsonian honors Bob Newhart when he addresses the Smithsonian’s Associates Oct. 4 at the Warner Theater in D.C. (originally skedded at the Jefferson Auditorium but the event sold out and was moved to the larger, Warner theater). Newhart, 71, brings along his first album “The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart” (WB Records, 1960), which won three Grammys and sold over a million copies. “That was not bad for a guy who six months before was doing jokes on the streets of Chicago,” he recalls. Newhart continues to play dates, saying, “I’ll never give up stand-up. Why would I want to stop making people laugh?” He writes 95% of his own material, never gets into political barbs (although one of his classic routines is about Abraham Lincoln). Would he do another series? “Well, I was watching the Emmys and the juices started to flow.” He’ll be seen on Showtime’s “The Sports Page” as a golfer trying to break 100. He actually shoots under 100 but, to look bad, he says he studied golf played by pals — like Pierre Cossette! … Kirk Douglas, Emmy nominated for his guestint in “Touched by an Angel,” takes the pulpit at Rev. Della Reese’s UP (Understanding Principles for Better Living) Church Sunday to speak about his spiritual life. Services to be held at La Meridian hotel (formerly the Nikko). Douglas’ second autobio, “Climbing The Mountain,” subtitled “My Search for Meaning,” is in paperback by Simon & Schuster.

DANA DELANY SWITCHED ROLES, from Karen to Beth, in the play’s move from B’way to Westwood for the Geffen Playhouse production of Donald Margulies’ “Dinner With Friends.” Rita Wilson is now Karen. Delany moves back to TV after the local and Boston runs: She’ll produce and star in ABC’s “Final Jeopardy” playing a sex criminal prosecutor. The story’s penned by Linda Fairstein from her experiences. The sex crime victim is — a movie star. Larry Sinitksy produces with Delany, who goes on to also produce and star in “Deja Dead” by Kathy Reichs with Karen Moore coproducing, and “While I Was Gone” by Sue Miller … Jean Louisa Kelly, finally seen in “Fantasticks” this week, guests in a wedding scene in an upcoming “Ally McBeal.” She had her mom ship out her own “well-preserved” wedding dress (1995). She’s now starring in CBS’ “Yes, Dear” series as “a neurotic first-time mom” and hopes to sing in the series. She broke into the biz as the lead in “Annie” — and you know she had to sing (“Tomorrow”!) in that one … The American Choreography Awards will be held Sept. 24 at the Alex theater in Glendale … Carroll & Co., BevHills’ classy men’s shoppe founded by onetime press agent Dick Carroll, bows another shop Saturday in Pasadena under the helm of his son, John … Jackie DeShannon’s back and bows her new album Oct. 6 at Tower Records on the Strip … Angie Dickinson is hot: She segued from “Duets” to “Pay It Forward” and next starts “Big, Bad Love” … L.A.’s Palm eatery celebrates its seventh Celebrity Server Dinner benefitting the City of Hope. Celeb waiters include Joan Van Ark, Julie Moran, Judd Nelson, Richard Lewis, etc. … I am on vacation, returning to the office Oct. 16.

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