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Mickey Rooney was born Joe Yule, Jr., on September 23, 1920, in Brooklyn, New York.Rooney passed away April 6, 2014, at the age of 93. Joe Yule, Jr., only 17 months old, joined his parents on the vaudeville stage as, of course, a toddler. He made his first film appearance in 1926. The following year, he played the lead character in the first Mickey McGuire short film. It was in this popular film series that he took the stage name Mickey Rooney.
Rooney and his career quickly grew when he appeared as Andy Hardy, the popular all-American teenager, in A Family Affair. This beloved character appeared in nearly 20 films and helped make Rooney the top star at the box office in 1939, 1940, and 1941.
He is also well-known for his award-winning dramatic performance opposite Spencer Tracy in Boys Town. In 1938, Rooney was awarded a juvenile Academy Award.
In 1944, Rooney joined the service, where he helped to entertain the troops and worked on the American Armed Forces Network.
Rooney had almost as many wives as he had starring roles. Mickey permanently and legally separated from his eighth wife, Jan, in June of 2012.
In 2011, Rooney filed elder abuse and fraud charges against stepson Christopher Aber and Aber’s wife. At Rooney’s request, the Superior Court issued a restraining order against the Abers, demanding that they stay 100 yards from Rooney, Mickey’s stepson Mark Rooney, and Mark’s wife Charlene. Just prior, Rooney had mustered the strength to break his silence and appeared before the Senate in Washington D.C. telling of his own heartbreaking story of abuse in an effort to live a peaceful, full life and help others who may also be suffering in silence.
Rooney requested through the Superior Court to permanently reside with his son Mark (a musician) and Charlene Rooney (an artist) in the Hollywood Hills. Ironically, after eight failed marriages, he never looked or felt better and finally found happiness in the single life. Rooney passed away April 6, 2014 at the age of 93.
- Rooney appeared in a string of musicals, including Babes in Arms (1939), and was the first teenager to be nominated for an Oscar in a leading role.
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) starred Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard. Rooney played Hepburn’s Japanese neighbor, Mr. Yunioshi. A sign of the times, Rooney played the part for comic relief, which he later regretted, feeling the role was offensive.
- Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 film, The Black Stallion, brought him an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor.
- He turned to the stage in 1979 in Sugar Babies with Ann Miller, and was nominated for a Tony Award.
- Rooney received an honorary Academy Award “in recognition of his 60 years of versatility in a variety of memorable film performances.”
- Upon Rooney’s death in 2014, Vanity Fair dubbed him “the original Hollywood train wreck.”
- His talents included singing, dancing, acting, playing drums, and playing piano.
- The 5'2" actor attracted some of Hollywood’s most beautiful women. “He went through the ladies like a hot knife through fudge,” said Ava Gardner.
- The millions he had earned over the years had vanished and Rooney died owing medical bills and back taxes.
A Few of Mickey’s Films and TV
A Family Affair (1937)
Babes in Arms (1939)
Strike up the Band (1940)
Babes on Broadway (1941)
Girl Crazy (1943)
National Velvet (1944)
Love Laughs at Andy Hardy (1946)
Killer McCoy (1947)
Words and Music (1948)
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962)
The Black Stallion (1979)
The Mickey Rooney Show (TV, 1954-55)
Adventures of the Black Stallion (TV, 1990-93)