This Restaurant Never Existed and I Proved It
We’ll get to the restaurant but first we must understand its namesake.
Mickey Rooney was prolific. He passed away in 2014 after a nine-decade career in Hollywood. The man appeared in over 300 films, topped the box-office, and was among Tinsel Town’s highest-paid actors. A character on screen and off.
His earnings never kept pace with his spending. In the 1980’s, Mickey received $75,000 weekly for nearly 5 years for the Broadway hit, Sugar Babies. By 1992, he was bankrupt for the second time. Crazy ventures, 8 wives, and 11 children could be the reason.
Biographers Richard A. Lertzman and William J. Birnes write, “When Mickey was 93, he was still making films and wacky investments.” He appeared in the Night at the Museum movie and was paid $250,000 on March 20, 2014. Dead less than 3 weeks later, there was just $18,000 in his bank account.
The book, Life and Times of Mickey Rooney, dispels a prank floating around the web. While conducting research I found an ad for Mickey Rooney’s Potato Fantasy Family Restaurants. I thought it real. The concept is weirdly plausible. However, it is never mentioned in the biography.
I determined it must be fake! All hail my intelligence. Let me prove why but first, what makes this an excellent parody is Mickey’s numerous and questionable real forays into business. Here is a list of ones he either conceptualized, spearheaded or endorsed. Some were solid ideas but suffered from bad timing:
- Mickey’s Two-Ball-a-Golf-a-Chair (indoor golf game)
- Rooney’s Lovely Lady Cosmetics (Trapeze, Taming the Shrew and Twelfth Night perfume)
- Complete (men’s spray-on hair)
- Elim Pharmaceuticals (stomach laxative Elim-A-Ache and foot powder Elim-An- Itch)
- Rip-offs (disposable undergarments) and Tip-Offs (disposable bra)
- Puppy Pop (bubbly drink for dogs)
He also floated Mickey Rooney’s Acting Schools and Mickey Rooney’s School of Dance. He did enter the restaurant business with Mickey Rooney’s Star Bar B Cue and Mickey Rooney’s Tabas Hotel, Inn and Theater. A decent success was a 52 location chain of Mickey’s Weenie World featuring round hot dogs.
The actor’s official website, (https://www.mickeyrooney.com), is basically a licensing portal. His estate still commercializes his name.
The Potato Fantasy Family Restaurant parody has taken on a life of its own. It is has been attributed to a creative wag in advertising. A fictitious menu, promotion and newspaper article also exist. The fake article finally settles the score. The reporter’s name is Otto Pinkpig. That raised my eyebrows. After a bit of sleuthing, I discovered a Sherman Oaks, California restaurant that operated mid last century named, Otto Nasser’s Pink Pig Restaurant. And that is how I solved the mystery.
I should have solved it long before that clue. The menu is full of inside jokes. Spencer Tracy’s quote is a tip-off so is flying in russet potatoes daily. Entrees named after actors Regis Toomey and Ray Bolger give it away. How about these menu items: Potatocuterie Platter, Instant Mash & Hot Water, Potato Club Sandwich. If that wasn’t enough all the dessert and beverage options are potato-based!
This following promotion is extremely well laid out and constructed. The weathered effects and silly clip art communicate a 1950’s ad. The homage to the Colonel’s bucket of chicken is too funny given the potato carbo-load it represents. The coupon and “verbal holiday greeting” from Mickey is perfect. All clues to its inauthenticity as is most of the randy copy the prankster decided upon. Still fun though!
This newspaper article really exposes the running prank. Not only for the reporter’s name, which had me thinking I was Sherlock Holmes, but for it’s extreme content. Had I just read it, I would not need to get all detective-y.
I can’t help but think, Mickey would be wildly happy with all this and try to make a buck from the idea. Congrats to the prank perpetrator(s).