Mickey Rooney was originally called up for military service after Pearl Harbour in 1941, but was turned down due to high blood pressure. Disappointed, he spent the next two years entertaining troops and doing shows for Armed Forces Radio. He tried again to enlist, and was finally accepted for service in 1944.
He was assigned to a US Army Special Services Battalion, which brought entertainers directly to combat troops. Three entertainers: one musician, one singer, and one MC to do the joking, would give what became known as ‘jeep shows’. In his troop of three, Rooney was the MC and his first show was given 3 miles from the front line in a Belgium snowstorm.
Rooney, and other ‘jeep show’ entertainers, were soldiers first and foremost; they were trained for combat and lived in the same conditions as infantry troops. Rooney served more than 21 months, until shortly after the war ended and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for entertaining troops in combat zones.