Swinging From the Ceiling With Mickey Rooney

Rockettes Reflections

By Barbara Ann Woronko Anzalone

Throughout their 90-year history, the world-famous Rockettes have shared the stage—and unforgettable adventures—with many other world-famous personalities. They have appeared at such iconic events as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Super Bowl and on TV shows like America’s Got Talent and Night of 100 Stars. The Rockettes are taking a moment to reflect on their favorite stardust memories.


Former Rockette Barbara with legendary actor Mickey Rooney while filming a national television commercial for Rayovac Batteries

Mickey Rooney was hands down one of the funniest people I’ve ever worked with.

After my days of being a Rockette, I had the opportunity to work alongside four other professional dancers—and Mickey!—doing a TV commercial for Rayovac batteries, which was shot in 1979. All of us girls danced to a jazz routine while wearing various costumes that looked like video games.

The first day on the set, Mickey was supposed to come down on a swing from the ceiling, dressed in a dashing tuxedo. On the first take, he came down halfway and all of a sudden he was upside down, and everybody just burst out laughing. The director yelled, “cut!” … and back up he went.

The next time he came down, he had his leg wrapped around the rope, and the director yelled “cut!” and back up he went … again!

Laugh after laugh and five takes later, Mickey finally nailed it.

While taking a break from shooting the commercial, we got to have lunch with Mickey—he was such a nice guy! Because he was told by his doctor that he needed to watch his weight and eat more chicken, he was very concerned about everybody’s diet. He had a love for a “rich, juicy steak” and couldn’t understand why people ate poultry. He kept telling us: “You might as well just eat paper! If you don’t eat red meat, you don’t get any vitamins, girls. You have to eat red meat.”

Mickey was jovial, witty, kind and we laughed until we cried with every take. From costume fittings and rehearsals to the final take, we all left LOVING Mickey. Without question, one of MGM’s best!

Barbara Ann Woronko Anzalone was a Rockette in 1974 and is the author of The Girl Next Door. She resides in Shavertown, Pa.