Silver Screen Artists

ROCKY'S Mickey Goldmill.. Remembering Burgess Meredith!

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Remember Mickey Goldmill from the Rocky Film Series? The quick wit and short fuse fireball at Mighty Mick's Boxing? Mickey's gravelly voice, intense demeanor and popular catch phrases helped make him highly recognizable as well as a common source of parody and satire in the movies and pop culture in general!

 

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But who was Mickey?? Oliver Burgess Meredith  known professionally as Burgess Meredith...has an amazingly extensive career in film, television, on stage and in the community! Active for more than six decades, Meredith has been called "a virtuosic actor"... and "one of the most accomplished actors of the century".  A life member of The Actors Studio by invitation, he won several Emmys, was the first male actor to win the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor twice, and was nominated for two Academy Awards.

 

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In "real life" Meredith served in the United States Army Air Corps in World War II, reaching the rank of captain.  He was also an avid environmentalist who believed pollution was one of the greatest tragedies of the time, and was a major opponent of the Vietnam War.  Meredith died at age 89 of Alzheimer's disease and melanoma in his home in Malibu, California on September 9, 1997.

Meredith was known later in his career for his appearances on The Twilight Zone, portraying arch-villain The Penguin on the 1960s TV series Batman, and boxing trainer Mickey Goldmill in the Rocky film series.  "Although those performances renewed his popularity," observed Mel Gussow in The New York Times, "they represented only a small part of a richly varied career in which he played many of the more demanding roles in classical and contemporary theater—in plays by Shakespeare, O'Neill, Beckett and others.

 

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In 1929, he became a member of Eva Le Gallienne's Civic Repertory Theatre company in New York City. Although best known to the larger world audience for his film and television work, Meredith was an influential actor and director for the stage. He made his Broadway debut as Peter in Le Gallienne's production of Romeo and Juliet (1930) and became a star in Maxwell Anderson's Winterset (1935), which became his film debut the following year. His early life and theatre work were the subject of a New Yorker profile.

 

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he won a Tony Award nomination for his 1974 Broadway staging of Ulysses in Nighttown, a theatrical adaptation of the "Nighttown" section of James Joyce's Ulysses. Meredith also shared a Special Tony Award with James Thurber for their collaboration on A Thurber Carnival in 1960...
But as Mickey Goldmill he played Rocky Balboa's trainer in the first three Rocky films (1976, 1979, and 1982). Though his character died in the third Rocky film, he returned briefly in a flashback in the fifth film, Rocky V (1990). His portrayal in the first film earned him his second consecutive nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

 

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Burgess' charachter, Mickey, boxed professionally from 1922 until 1947 and achieved great athletic success but never gained any measure of fame or material success. Goldmill recalled that he once knocked fictional opponent, Ginny Russell, out of the ring the same day that Luis Firpo did the same to Jack Dempsey: 14 September 1923. Goldmill claimed that the reason his victory did not garner any media attention was that he did not have a manager, while Dempsey did. He retired in 1947, with a record of 72 Wins, (70 K.O.'s), 1 Loss. Some time after his retirement (in 1948), he opened a boxing gym in Philadelphia, Mighty Mick's Boxing, and began to train fighters.

 

Mighty Mick's!!

Mighty Mick's Gym was a gym managed and owned by Mickey Goldmill, manager and trainer of Rocky Balboa and a former boxer himself. After Mickey's death in 1981, the gym closed and remained dormant for a long period of time. Several years later, after filing for bankruptcy because of a crooked lawyer, Rocky reopened the gym which Mickey willed to his son Robert Jr. Besides Rocky, other boxers who trained at Mighty Mick's were "Big Dipper" and Tommy Gunn.

 

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A "flatiron"-style three story building in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia, PA. The building was seen worldwide in the 1976 film Rocky, and its sequels, as the site for the fictional characters Mickey Goldmill's gym, where the eponymous protagonist first trained. The interior shots were filmed in Main Street Gym in Los Angeles, as the building is not in fact a gym.

 

The dingy red brick façade is still recognizable, though the area looks somewhat different now. The building which stood in for Mighty Mick’s boxing gym never actually was a gym of any kind – all interior scenes of the gym were shot across the country in Los Angeles at the boxer’s haven, Main Street Gym.

 

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Still visited by Rocky fans today this old building remains an iconic stop an any true ROCKY tour! The old three-story building was constructed back in 1910, standing even before Mickey Goldmill’s era of boxing professionally. It has changed hands a few times throughout the years, since the early 2000’s, it’s been a Dollar Plus market.

 

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In recent years, Susquehanna Avenue has experienced development on both sides of Front Street. In East Kensington, numerous projects have risen, including several homes with creative design elements. In the other direction, the Norris Square Civic Association has actively developed quite a bit of affordable housing. Right in the middle of this development activity sits a Hollywood relic at Front & Susquehanna.

 

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Michael "Mickey" Goldmill was portrayed by Burgess Meredith in the Rocky film series, in which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the first film, as was his co-star Burt Young. The character's gravelly voice, intense demeanor and popular catch phrases helped make him highly recognizable as well as a common source of parody and satire in pop culture.

 

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Mickey may be based on Charley Goldman. Both were bantamweights, had Jewish ancestry, and have similar sounding names. In addition, Goldman was the boxing trainer of Rocky Marciano, on whom Rocky Balboa is based. Goldman trained Marciano in many ways similar to how Goldmill trained Balboa, such as tying their ankles together with string to teach them to spread their feet at the appropriate width. Goldman was (again like Goldmill) well known for making wise remarks (ex. "A lot of people say Rocky [Marciano] don't look too good in there, but the guy on the ground don't look too good either.").

According to his memorial plaque, Mickey Goldmill was born on 7 April 1905 to a Jewish family. He boxed professionally from 1922 until 1947 and achieved great athletic success but never gained any measure of fame or material success. Goldmill recalled that he once knocked fictional opponent, Ginny Russell, out of the ring the same day that Luis Firpo did the same to Jack Dempsey: 14 September 1923.

 

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Goldmill claimed that the reason his victory did not garner any media attention was that he did not have a manager, while Dempsey did. He retired in 1947, with a record of 72 Wins, (70 K.O.'s), 1 Loss. Some time after his retirement (in 1948), he opened a boxing gym in Philadelphia, Mighty Mick's Boxing, and began to train fighters. There is an apparent continuity error on Goldmill's actual birth year.

 

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In late 1975, he tells Rocky that he's 76 years old, which would have meant he was born in either 1898 or 1899.However, his memorial plaque says he was born in 1905. It is possible that he lied about his age (stating that he was 23 when he was actually 17) to start boxing and kept up the pretense for the rest of his life.

Even when Burt Young (PAULIE!!) stops by Philadelphia to revisit some of the old spots from filming he always makes it a point to stop at MIGHTY MICK'S!! Check out what Paulie has to say about...ummm...Paulie being "dead"! EPIC!!

 

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