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Mickey Rooney, An Unusual Role Model!

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We lost a great actor yesterday.

Along with this loss there is much we can learn.

Slightly over 5 feet tall, Mickey Rooney became a Hollywood legend. Like many children born to actors in the early 1920s his career began in Vaudeville at the ripe young age of almost two.

Unlike most he became a box office star. This was due in large part to great talent and his role in the Andy Hardy movies acting alongside other notables including Deanna Durbin and Judy Garland with whom he enjoyed "cinematic magic."

Both Rooney and Durbin also shared the "Juvenile" Academy Award in 1938.

Similar to many childhood actors his life became a roller coaster and then some.

Despite having been the biggest box office draw in the late 1930s garnering Academy Award nominations for "Babes in Arms" and "The Human Comedy" acting roles became more scarce.

As he got older -- at the ripe middle age of the early 30s -- his career stalled.

Mickey Rooney's life was not charmed. Married eight times, earning then losing a small fortune and gambling addiction among other woes were just a small part of the vast mosaic of this talented actor's career.

At times we tend to recall and attach too much importance to the weaknesses of others while failing to learn from their strengths.

Despite the many setbacks suffered, Mickey Rooney never gave up. Defeat didn't seem to be in his vocabulary. A great lesson to us all.

Here's where our story really begins.

So often we have the tendency to take rejection in a cocktail mixed with self deprecation, depression, inactivity, excuse making and a general feeling of malaise.

Perseverance, a quality that would stand us all in good stead is what made Mickey Rooney a success despite many set-backs.

I consider him to be a role model. Not perhaps in the traditional sense we tend to admire individuals like Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt and so many others.

Mickey wasn't too proud to take smaller parts during the lean years, even receiving another Oscar nomination for his performance in The Bold and the Brave at the advanced age of thirty six.

Yet it wasn't until he was 59-years-old that his stalled career began to take off once again. He picked up another Oscar nomination for The Black Stallion and starred on Broadway with Ann Miller in the well received Sugar Babies.

At 62 he won an Emmy and Golden Globe for his performance in Bill. A year later he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Oscar for his contributions to the film industry.

Although the success of his youth wasn't to be repeated, nothing stopped Mickey Rooney from performing. He refused to be a quitter.

He took the jobs that came his way and accumulated an amazing 340 acting credits. His career spanned nine decades.

According to the Independent Movie Database, at the time of his death he was filming Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and had two films in pre-production.

Mickey Rooney is a role model. He represents energy, drive, willpower and the refusal to give up when encountering difficulty.

Sometimes it's a bit hard to make the associative jump from a star's life to our own. In this case it's not difficult.

All of us encounter challenges on a daily basis, although usually not as public as those of a movie star. However they are just as difficult and important to us.

We have a choice to make. Do we allow ourselves to become debilitated or function less effectively? We can. Or we may choose another course.

Turn adversity into prosperity. I'm not referring to monetary gain. Take the trials and tribulations that are a daily part of life as challenges.

Be mindful when you encounter a negative experience and respond accordingly. Realize that it is within your power to determine how you internalize what is occurring.

All of us have the ability to control our outlook and response to what's happening at the moment.

When we adopt a positive can-do attitude we are far more likely to achieve a greater quality of life.

As we say goodbye to Mickey Rooney, let's remember a man who wouldn't give up.

More importantly, let's recommit ourselves to taking life as it comes, dealing with it and creating a joie de vivre.

Time is fleeting... how do you want to spend yours?