"National Velvet": Behind the Scenes of the Beloved Movie Starring Elizabeth Taylor, Mickey Rooney, and Angela Lansbury

Herbie J Pilato

Photo byforcesofgeek.com

It's one of the most beloved feature films of all time, and it made a star out of its then-very young leading lady, who would grow up to be an Oscar-winning actress (and ultimately a Royal Dame!).

The name of the movie is National Velvet, which was released by MGM in 1945. The film stars teenage Elizabeth Taylor, Mickey Rooney, and Angela Lansbury. The cast also includes Donald Crisp, who offers a charming performance as Taylor's father, and Anne Revere, playing Taylor's compassionate mother; a role that earned Revere the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Taylor, who died in 2011, Rooney, who died in 2014, and Lansbury (who died in 2022) were first-rate professionals from the on-set. They each give 100% to their performances in National Velvet, which has recently been released in a glorious Blu-ray edition.

And though Taylor and Rooney would find super fame on the big screen, Lanbsury's biggest success would be achieved on television with Murder, She Wrote in the 1980s and '90s.

Meanwhile, Revere (who died in 1990), would make decades after Velvet make a special guest appearance on TV's The Six Million Dollar Man in which her character is in need of a physical bionic heart. Clearly, Revere, and the entire cast of National Velvet, gave their whole heart and soul to every performance, whether on the big or small screens.

As documented on RottenTomotatoes.com, the plot of National Velvet is as follows:

"When Velvet Brown (Elizabeth Taylor), an equine-loving 12-year-old living in rural Sussex, becomes the owner of a rambunctious horse, which she decides to train it for England's Grand National race. Aided by former jockey Mi Taylor (Mickey Rooney) and encouraged by her family, the determined Velvet gets her steed, affectionately called 'The Pie,' ready for the big day. However, a last-minute problem arises with the jockey and an unexpected rider must step in as a replacement."

According to IMDB.com, other intriguing bits of behind-the-scenes trivia are as follows:

"Elizabeth Taylor fell from the horse and broke her back during the filming of the racing scene. Although she recovered quickly, she suffered greatly later in life. Mickey Rooney had to film all of his scenes in one month before he had to report for basic training to serve in World War II. Elizabeth Taylor fell in love with King Charles while visiting the Rivera Country Club. He was acquired by MGM for $800 to appear in this movie with her. Elizabeth spent time each day riding, caring, and bonding with him in order to prepare for her role in this movie. King Charles was reported to be aggressive to his handlers except for Taylor. She and King had a special bond that became evident throughout the movie. At the end of the movie, Elizabeth found out that she had been gifted with 'The Pie', and she and King Charles remained together until his death. After production was completed, arrangements were made to allow Dame Elizabeth Taylor to keep the horse. She kept the horse from age 13 until it died when she was 24."

For more details and behind-the-scenes information about the heart-warming National Velvet, click here.

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including RETRO ACTIVE TELEVISION, THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA

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