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'That Little Munchkin'

May 19, 1991

I am writing to express my outrage at Mickey Rooney's purported autobiography ("Life Is Too Short, April 14), most of which is made up of fabrication, of what he would have liked things to be.

I was Norma Shearer's secretary from 1935 to the three years after she left the MGM studios, and I was with her every day during those years. One day she laughingly showed me a note written to her by Rooney, telling how much he admired her.

"I think that little Munchkin is trying to ask me for a date," she said, and apart from seeing him around the studio, that was the end of her dalliance with Rooney, despite his pathetic claim that she "wanted his body." No one ever wanted him for his tiny body, including myself, whom he pursued more than he did Norma.

David Freeman, who reviewed the book, writes: "Gavin Lambert (Shearer's biographer) documents the affair and confirms that it was Louis B. Mayer who broke it up." What Freeman did not mention is that the information given to Lambert for his book came from Rooney, not from Mayer.

Rooney talks about his newly found religion, but his mean-spirited words betray none of that in his many lies about the living and the dead. He throws in the ubiquitous lie about poor Joan Crawford, and it is a very obvious one. He claims he never had any emotional entanglements with any of the girls he worked with, and then tells that he impregnated Lana Turner, after a movie with her, and that she had to have an abortion.

I am unconcerned with the lies he tells about other people, and they are on every page, but I will defend Norma Shearer's good name.

TULA GINZBURG, LOS ANGELES

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