Tim Rooney         (1947-2006)
At age 8, Tim was the second youngest mouseketeer. Although he was only on the show a short time, Tim spent the rest of his life working in various areas of the entertainment field, including acting, singing, and producing.
Timothy Hayes Rooney was born on January 4th, 1947 in Birmingham, Alabama to Mickey Rooney and Betty Jane Rase. Both of his parents began entertaining at an early age. Tim's father, famous actor Mickey Rooney, was on the vaudeville stage at age 2. His mother sang with many bands as a teenager, and had her own local radio show at age fourteen. After being a background singer on records and television shows, she became a well-respected vocal contractor, who selected and directed background singers for recording sessions.
Before becoming a mouseketeer, Tim took vocal and tap dancing lessons. He and his older brother Mickey performed in what Tim called "little theater" and appeared on local television shows including Doye O'Dell's. Tim also appeared with his father on The Donald O'Connor Show on January 29, 1955.
Tim and his brother Mickey had a connection to the Disney Studio through their stepfather Buddy Baker, who was at that time with the Disney Music Department, composing and arranging many songs for the Mickey Mouse Club. However, Tim stated in an interview with Skip Lowe that he and his brother auditioned just like everyone else. After the auditions, Mickey was hired. Tim joined the cast later, becoming the second replacement mouseketeer. He was probably hired to replace Paul Petersen. However, Tim was not placed on the team that had included Paul. Perhaps the director did not want two brothers on the same team. More likely Tim was placed on a team to be paired with Bronson as they were about the same age and height.
As a side note, it is interesting that Tim did not go by "Timmy" which would have followed the pattern of other mouseketeer names (Bobby, Lonnie, Johnny, etc). This seems unusual as Tim was called "Timmy" by his friends and had recently been billed as "Timmy" on The Donald O'Connor Show.
Tim was not a mouseketeer for very long. Shortly after he was hired, both Tim and his brother Mickey were dismissed from the cast allegedly for mischievous behavior in the studio paint shop. Neither brother has discussed this incident. In the interview with Skip Lowe, Tim explained their leaving by saying that children were "shuffled" in and out of the show.
Tim was on the show for a brief period of time so there is little to evaluate. He appeared on just four segments of Monday's Fun With Music Day, and in two of these he did little more than sit or stand. The only segment available for viewing is Friendly Farmers which was a part of the show's premiere. Tim's role in this segment is to simply sit and listen to Bob Amesberry. Later, Tim and Bronson use a simple dance step to exit off stage leaving four older mouseketeers to perform a more complicated dance routine. As this first show would introduce the mouseketeers, the goal was to present children that the viewers would identify with and want to see again. While Tim did not stand out, he had a pleasant on camera presence and came across a cute boy who would be nice to know.
The other three segments in which Tim appears are described by Randall Nakashima on this site under Lost Episodes. In Roy, Roy Quick on the Draw, Tim does get to sing two short lines, but basically his job is to simply stand still with his head through a backdrop while Roy draws a picture around his head. In Mickey Mouse Mambo, Tim participates in a dance ensemble, but mainly joins the other mouseketeers as they circle around Roy. Tim's largest role was in Get Busy. Tim does the introduction, sings one of the verses, and dances with the rest of the team. Tim's dancing is not as advanced as the other mouseketeers, and he appears lost at times.
In mentioning Tim's dancing, two things should be noted. First, mistakes were often deliberately left in to give the viewers a sense that these were ordinary children just like them. Secondly, many mouseketeers and adult staff have commented about the fast pace of rehearsal to performance. Often, there was just a three hour period for the children to learn the dance and give the final performance for camera. Tim was just eight years old with little experience and may have had difficulty in learning the routines as quickly as the older, more seasoned dancers.
In selecting the mouseketeers, Walt Disney wanted children who were not child performers. Tim, despite his parents background, was basically a nonprofessional who performed adequately in relation to his training and experience.
Around age ten Tim was stricken with polio which left him unable to walk for two years. When he recovered, he began an acting career. His first part, in 1960, was an uncredited role as a school child on Maverick. In 1961, he was in the movie King of the Roaring 20's--The Story of Arnold Rothstein, and in 1962 was a regular in the TV series Room for One More. He co-starred with his father in the television series Mickey in 1964. While under contract with Warner Brothers, Tim made at least twenty appearences as a guest actor on a variety of television shows from 1962 thru 1970, including My Three Sons, Bewitched, and Dr. Kildare. During this time Tima also appeared in movies including Village of the Giants and Riot on Sunset Strip.
In 1966, Tim joined his brothers Mickey and Teddy to form The Rooney Brothers. The group received a recording contract from Columbia Records, released three singles, and appeared on television shows like The Woody Woodbury Show and Mike Douglas. However, the records did not chart and the group soon disbanded.
Tim attended Wilson Junior High and spent his junior and senior years at Glendale High School where he sang in the a'capella choir and had the lead in the play Dark of the Moon during his senior year.
During this time Tim had many other interests. He enjoyed horseback riding, and exhibited his quarterhorse Rex as a trail horse. He was an expert at bareback riding. Tim also enjoyed working on cars, and occasionally drove in both drag and stock car races. He was with the crew of Roland Leong's car The Hawaiian when it won the NHRA national championship in Indianapolis during 1965.
Tim continued his acting during the seventies, appearing in The Loners in 1972, and Storyville in 1974. During a 1978 interview with Otto Dekom of the San Bernardino Sun, Tim mentioned that although he was not getting the parts he wanted, he had plenty of acting jobs doing commercials. He had filmed thirty in the first six months of 1978. In the 1980's Tim began to work as a voice actor, doing several voices in 1983 for Saturday Supercade, and also doing voices for The Jetsons and Mister T. In 1980 Tim appeared on the Mickey Mouse Club Reunion.
In the late 80's and early 90's, Tim managed two nightclubs -- Spanks in Palmdale and the MaximPlum in Lancaster, California. In the late 90's Tim and his brother Mickey formed the Rooney Entertainment Group, a production company involved with television and movies. In 2001 Tim and his brother Mickey volunteered as spokesmen for the Western Eagle Foundation, a Southern California food bank. Tim also owned thoroughbred race horses.
Tim's last project, which began in 2000, was a television show he created and hosted called Finders Keepers. This show, designed around Tim's interest in metal detection, featured him searching for items with a metal detector. After the pilot was produced and aired, Tim became sick with dermatomyositis, a muscle wasting disease. Tim was not able to continue filming, and the project was dropped. However, in 2006 Tim decided to revive the project. One week before a scheduled meeting with the crew, Tim passed away on September 23, 2006 at his ranch in Hemet, California.
- - - Profile by Marcia Eaton