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Special Events
Alumni Remember "Boys Town"

Sixty-five years after Mickey Rooney starred as the young tough Whitey Marsh in the movie “ Boys Town,” he came back to Boys Town to reminisce with some of the remaining alumni who played extras in many of the scenes. Ed Novotny, Hank Avilla, Tom McGuire, Charles Kopplin, John Anthony and Louis Martinez sat down with Mickey and brought back the recollections of those times that covered many themes.

· The Glamour of Filmmaking
Alumni: The movie crew would get their reflectors, wait for the sun to get in the right position. Then at a given point, you just had a certain pocket, window and at that time they would shoot. Then a cloud would come over and you’d stand there for half a day waiting and finally everything would get okay again or they would move around to the side of the building where the sun hadn’t been and then they would go ahead and shoot.

· Film Tricks
Alumni: They shot a night scene but it was daytime and they threw a canvas over it to make it night – spotlights and everything.

· Tough Times
Alumni: Look what we ate on Sunday, we’d get behind the gym over there and they had a great big pot of colored milk or whatever it was and a bologna sandwich. There was no second helping, I’ll tell you that. You very gently ate it slow, to last you all day. They’d make that cream of wheat at noon or night they would put the raisins in it and that would be our dessert.

· Quiet On The Set
Alumni: During lunch (Spencer) Tracy comes in and then they serve him his food and Mickey used to agitate him. They had this long table, so Mickey comes in (and sits) across from him and took off his shoes and socks and put them right up in front of his plate. Oh, Tracy, was he burning a hole through it.

· Lunch Hour
Alumni: During lunch (Spencer) Tracy comes in and then they serve him his food and Mickey used to agitate him. They had this long table, so Mickey comes in (and sits) across from him and took off his shoes and socks and put them right up in front of his plate. Oh, Tracy, was he burning a hole through it.

· Hardest Part of Filming
Alumni: Getting the crowd to calm down and follow the instructions. That was the most difficult as a group, getting us to calm down and follow the instructions. You know how kids are. We were no different.

· Cinema Magic
Alumni: I think the most interesting thing was all of a sudden you could pick out different scenes where maybe you saw yourself and then it was like a miracle because the fact that they had all these pieces and segments and then all of a sudden they put it together and here you got a beautiful movie come out of it. The filming of every scene wasn’t very long. You think it would be a lot more to it to make the picture but it filled in somewhere along the line.

· Lasting Memory
Mickey Rooney: Sidney Miller was here, you know, he played the barber and he put black shoe polish on my face. Those memories will be with me forever.

· What’s In A Name?

Alumni: Tell them how you got the name Mickey Rooney.

Rooney: I was at Universal and they wanted to change my name. (Mickey) McGuire (name he was using at the time) didn’t seem to fit so they said, Looney, Tooney, Rooney. I’ve got it, Mickey Rooney. So I had my named changed and it’s been Mickey Rooney all my life.


· The Meeting
Rooney: Well, I just remember Mr. Tracy and myself, we went in and I said to (MGM President) Mr. Mayer, “Mr. Mayer, you’ve got to release Boys Town.” He says, “But it’s got no sex in it, Mickey. There are no songs.” I said, “It’s a song of freedom. It’s a song of rehabilitation. It’s the song of youth no matter what color or faith you are. It’s about praying. It’s about living a good life.”

Alumni: What did Mayer say?

Rooney: He said Okay. We didn’t give him any place else to go.


· The Film’s Lasting Impact
Alumni: I thought the movie would go on, but not to this magnitude. I was amazed. The longevity. I tell you what, the good that Boys Town has consistently given and I think indirectly the movie had a great influence on this place because prior to that time we had difficulty getting something to eat and maintaining this place and then all of a sudden people started finding out, “well, gee there is a Boys Town and they’re doing some good and as a result people started sending in a dollar here and a dollar there and that certainly continued on. Now you have a beautiful place that we have here for the kids and to carry on Father Flanagan’s dream.

· Parting Thoughts
Rooney: I think we should think of the children and television has changed so much. There’s no more Uncle Milton (comedian Milton Berle), he was a very good friend of mine. (Comedian) Sid Caesar. There’s very little to laugh about on television and our troops everyday, we’re losing men in Iraq and we’ve got to think of our American values and we’ve got to support our president and the presidents to come, but they have to support Boys Town.
Read more about “Boys Town” on TurnerClassicMovies.com
Boys Town Success Hinged on One Meeting
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