TRIBUTES have been paid to movie legend Mickey Rooney who made his panto debut in Sunderland at the age of 86.
The actor, who died on Sunday aged 93, came to the Empire Theatre in 2007 to play Baron Hardup in Cinderella, starring alongside Les Dennis, Michelle Heaton and Andy Scott Lee.
He also switched on the city centre’s Christmas lights display during his stay.
Les Scott, who was mayor of the city when the show was staged, said: “He said an English pantomime was his last great theatrical challenge.
“As mayor, it was a delight to meet Mr Rooney and his wife Jan who accompanied him on tour.” Les Dennis, who played Buttons in Cinderella, was among those to pay their respects.
Speaking on BBC 5Live he said: “He was an amazing pro. I don’t think we’ll see the like of him again.”
An Empire spokesman said: “It was a remarkable time for both the theatre and the region.
“We are honoured that Mickey Rooney graced the Sunderland Empire stage and we will always hold fond memories of his time at the theatre.”