The veteran actor, who died yesterday at age 93, enjoyed a long career that was both launched and perpetuated by horses. We count down a few of his most classic equestrian roles.
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#7: Lightning: The White Stallion (1986) — Rooney plays a down-on-his-luck gambler named Barney Ingram whose horse is stolen by gangsters. They make a deal that requires Ingram to coach a young, visually impaired girl to show jumping victory to absolve his debt.
#6: Lost Stallions: The Journey Home (2008) — Rooney plays a wise elderly horseman named Chief who runs Harmony Ranch, a retreat for troubled youth.
#5: Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry (1937) — Rooney starred alongside Judy Garland as cocky but talented jockey named Timmie Donovan known for come-from-behind finishes. His career is jeopardized, though, when his low-life father convinces him to throw a race so that he can cash in at the betting window.
#4: The Twilight Zone, “The Last Night of a Jockey” (1963) — Rooney gave a one-man performance in this episode, which was written specifically for him. He plays a jockey named Grady who has been banned from racing for life for doping horses, then gets a lesson in “careful what you wish for.”
#3: The Adventures of the Black Stallion (1990-1993) — This popular Family Channel series, a reprisal of the 1979 Black Stallion film, featured Rooney once again in the role of race trainer Henry Dailey.
#2: The Black Stallion (1979) — In this adaption of the children’s book by Walter Farley, Rooney plays Henry Dailey, a retired jockey who trains The Black and his boy, Alec, for racing. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the role.
#1: National Velvet (1944) — Rooney plays Mi Taylor, a jaded former jockey who shied away from racing after causing a collision that resulted in the death of another jockey. Ultimately, though, he faces his demons, helping Velvet Brown (Elizabeth Taylor) train her horse for the Grand National.