Social Mood Conference | Socionomics Foundation

By Chuck Thompson | Excerpted from the April 2014 Socionomist



[Ed: Actor Mickey Rooney, who passed away at the age of 93, experienced what the Associated Press called “a seesaw of career tailspins and revivals.”

Socionomists found that Rooney’s most popular years occurred during trends toward negative mood. In this article, Chuck Thompson explains why Rooney’s enthusiasm and sunny spirits were in high demand during bear markets and rejected during bull markets.

Here’s a brief excerpt of Thompson’s April 2014 article].

Rooney began his acting career as a toddler in his parents’ vaudeville act in the 1920s. From 1927-1936 he appeared in a series of short films based on a comic strip character named Mickey McGuire.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average completed a major rally in 1937, setting the stage for a five-year bear market. The ensuing negative mood was a boon to Rooney’s career. In 1937 he won the lead role of Andy Hardy in the film A Family Affair, which spawned more than a dozen Andy Hardy movies. USA Today’s Donna Freydkin says the 15-part series was “such a smash that from 1939 to 1941, Rooney became the Tom Cruise of his time: the No. 1 box-office draw in the country.”

In 1939 Rooney received a special Juvenile Academy Award for his role in Boys Town (1938). The following year he received an Academy Award nomination for “Best Actor in a Leading Role” for Babes in Arms (1939). And in 1944, the Academy again nominated him for “Best Actor in a Leading Role” for his performance in The Human Comedy (1943). That year, Rooney began 21 months of service in the military, entertaining more than 2 million troops as part of the “Jeep Theater,” a traveling entertainment brigade that performed across Europe—usually on the front lines.

But social mood was trending positively when he returned to Hollywood, and his status as an actor changed. MGM, the studio that had turned him into a megastar, dropped him. The country needed such soothing, comforting themes in the bear market, but they were less in vogue after mood began trending positively again. “If enthusiasm was always Rooney’s stock in trade, America was less interested in buying during the years following World War II,” says Los Angeles Times film critic Kevin Turan. “The actor’s ‘look at me’ energy level started to wear out its welcome.”


Continue reading this concise, three-page report to discover how the social mood trends of the next fifty years influenced Rooney’s popularity.

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