Mickey Rooney
Actor
Mickey Rooney
Mickey Rooney is an American film actor and entertainer whose film, television, and stage appearances span nearly his entire lifetime. He has received multiple awards, including a Juvenile Academy Award, an Honorary Academy Award, two Golden Globes and an Emmy Award.
Biography
Mickey Rooney's personal information overview.
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Popular photos of Mickey Rooney
News
News abour Mickey Rooney from around the web
Spotlight on child stars - Sunderland Echo
Google News - over 5 years
The event, Child Actors/Child Stars: Juvenile Performance on Screen at the University of Sunderland, will focus on child stars from across the ages, including Harry Potter's Daniel Radcliffe, Shirley Temple, Mickey Rooney and Elizabeth Taylor
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Classic Liz Taylor, Lucille Ball titles released - phillyBurbs.com
Google News - over 5 years
The guest stars from the fifth year include Bill Mumy, George Takei, James Coburn, Lee Marvin, Martin Landau, Mickey Rooney, Shelley Fabares and — in the famous episode “Nightmare at 20000 Feet” — William Shatner. The numerous extras include 20 new
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Historic opera house in Staples is up for auction - Alexandria Echo Press
Google News - over 5 years
The theatre portion of the building Mickey Rooney and Louie Anderson with. In addition to the arts, the building is designed for floors ideal for offices, sleeping rooms or rental spaces, plus a large basement for storage. The building is located in
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Disclaimers Precede 'Tiffany's' Screenings in LA, NY - The Rafu Shimpo
Google News - over 5 years
At issue is Mickey Rooney's portrayal of a Japanese character, Holly's buffoonish, obnoxious landlord. “Mr. Yunioshi” mixes his R's and L's, and has thick glasses and buck teeth. Although there have been negative portrayals of Asians throughout
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Joan Blondell on TCM: DAMES, WILL SUCCESS SPOIL ROCK HUNTER? - Alt Film Guide (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
The fact that Blondell never became a top star says more about audiences — who preferred, say, Shirley Temple and Mickey Rooney — than about Blondell's screen presence and acting abilities. As part of its "Summer Under the Stars" film series,
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Hey Tehachapi! someone is stealing precious fruit - Tehachapi News
Google News - over 5 years
My favorite movie of all time is “The Human Comedy” starring Mickey Rooney, Van Johnson and Donna Reed. It was made in the 40's about a family near Tehachapi struggling to keep their family together during World War II
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PR: Disney Releases Interview with Mickey Rooney on "The Fox and the Hound" - Toon Zone
Google News - over 5 years
Although they only met in passing, Mickey Rooney remembers Walt Disney as “a very charming man.” More than 50 years later, in 1981, Rooney would find himself starring in one of Walt Disney Studio's most beloved animated films, The Fox and the Hound
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Unseen Movie Review: 30 Minutes or Less - Monsters and Critics.com
Google News - over 5 years
The basic premise is an idea older than Mickey Rooney's socks: two criminals force an innocent man to rob a bank for them. But when you make that innocent man a pizza delivery guy and strap a bomb to his chest and make the whole thing a comedy,
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LONG ISLAND ARTS | EAST HAMPTON; They Had a Barn, So They Decided to Put on a Show
NYTimes - over 5 years
East Hampton, N.Y. A WEATHERED old barn here, surrounded by an expansive lawn dotted with other old farm buildings, buzzed with activity one warm evening last month. Kate Mueth was rehearsing her small company, the Mulford Repertory Theater. After dark, seen from a distance, the barn seemed to glow. Inside, though, the actors were considering not
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NOTICED; For Asian Stars, Many Web Fans
NYTimes - over 5 years
ASIAN roles in Hollywood have come a long way since Mickey Rooney played a Japanese neighbor in ''Breakfast at Tiffany's.'' But the dearth of Asian lead characters today suggests that there is still a way to go. It's an entirely different story, however, on YouTube, where a young generation of Asian-Americans has found a voice (and millions of
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Fort Salem Theater's 'Senior Moments' knows its audience - Albany Times Union
Google News - over 5 years
It stars Rudy Tronto, who lives in California, acted on Broadway and earned a Tony-award nomination in 1980 for directing "Sugar Babies," starring Mickey Rooney. Tronto is 83, the oldest of the senior actors. The youngest is 60
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Winehouse was planning to record with Cee Lo - msnbc.com
Google News - over 5 years
The singer pleaded guilty to assaulting a theater manager who asked her to leave a family Christmas show starring Mickey Rooney because she had too much to drink. (Leon Neal / AFP - Getty Images) Share Back to slideshow navigation Winehouse attends The
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'next to normal' - Dearborn Press and Guide
Google News - over 5 years
When Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland said, “Let's put on a show,” they weren't considering a musical about a woman suffering from bi-polar disorder and the effect her malady had on her family. They weren't, but composer Tom Kitt and
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Did Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland read the Belleville Daily Advocate? - Belleville News Democrat
Google News - over 5 years
I'm not sure how they managed it, but on the second page of the news section, page 118, is a picture of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland both reading copies of the Daily Advocate. The writers went a little overboard on the praise of their industry
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Video: Their mission: To maintain peace, power and plumbing - Cambridge News
Google News - over 5 years
Sgt Mickey Rooney, 37, who has been based in Cambridge for the past four-and-a-half years, is on the operation. He said: “Our main role is to make sure the buffer zone is safe for when the infantry soldiers are out patrolling
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Mickey Rooney
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 2014
    Age 93
    After his death, family members clashed over his burial and a court hearing on the matter was scheduled for April 11, 2014.
    More Details Hide Details On April 10, family members resolved their dispute, deciding that he would be interred at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Rooney's conservator and Jan Rooney agreed to collaborate on a small funeral for family members, but with Christopher and Christina Aber, whom Rooney had accused of abuse, not being permitted to attend. The settlement headed off a potentially expensive lawsuit. His lawyer said that "Mickey had enough lawsuits in life for 10 people; the last thing he needs is for one over where he'll be buried."
    On April 6, 2014, Rooney died of natural causes in his sleep at his stepson Mark Rooney's home in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 93.
    More Details Hide Details He had gone for a nap after lunch, and family members called 911 when they sought to wake him and his breathing seemed labored. He was declared dead at 4 p.m. Rooney was survived by his wife of 37 years, Jan Chamberlain, from whom he was separated, as well as eight surviving children, two stepchildren, nineteen grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren. Rooney signed his will several weeks prior to his death. It disinherited all but one of his eight living children and his wife Jan, from whom he was estranged, and instructed his lawyer, rather than family, to manage his estate. Rooney's lawyer disclosed that his client wanted to purchase a burial plot, but was unable to afford one. His estate had dwindled to $18,000, which was left to stepson Mark Rooney, the son of Jan Rooney. At the time of his death, Rooney owed back taxes to the IRS and the California Franchise Tax Board. Rooney's talent agency, CMG Worldwide, said that medical bills were also owed and that contributions from the public were being accepted, with proceeds "donated to help assist with the debts and expenses of Mickey's estate." Jan Rooney and seven of Rooney's eight biological children later filed separate court actions contesting the will.
  • 2013
    Age 92
    In May 2013, Rooney sold his home of many years, reportedly for $1,300,000, and split the proceeds with his wife, Jan.
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  • 2012
    Age 91
    In June 2012, Mickey requested through the Superior Court to reside with Mark and Charlene permanently and legally separated from his wife, Jan Rooney.
    More Details Hide Details According to Mark Ellis, writing in Godreports, Rooney said that he became a Christian after meeting what he believed was an angel in the form of a busboy at a casino coffee shop in Lake Tahoe, who told him "Mr. Rooney, Jesus Christ loves you very much." According to Ellis, Rooney spent time as a member of the cult-like Church of Religious Science before espousing a more orthodox Christian faith. Rooney's eldest child, Mickey Rooney, Jr., is also a Christian, and has an evangelical ministry in Hemet, California.
    Their marriage lasted longer than his previous seven combined, although they became estranged in 2012 and legally separated in 2014.
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    At the time of his death, he was married to Jan Chamberlin Rooney, although they had separated in June 2012.
    More Details Hide Details He had a total of nine children, as well as nineteen grandchildren and several great-grandchildren. Rooney was a gambler, and was addicted to sleeping pills, which he was able to overcome in 2000, when he was in his late 70s.
  • 2011
    Age 90
    In April 2011, the temporary restraining order that Rooney was previously granted was replaced by a confidential settlement between Rooney and his stepson, Aber.
    More Details Hide Details Christopher Aber and Jan Rooney denied all the allegations, and after Rooney's death, Aber contended that Rooney was abusive to his wife and addicted to sleeping pills. Rooney was arrested for beating his wife in February 1997, although prosecutors decided not to file battery charges against him.
    On March 27, 2011, all of Rooney's finances were permanently handed over to a conservator, who called Rooney "completely competent."
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    On March 2, 2011, Rooney appeared before a special U.S. Senate committee that was considering legislation to curb elder abuse, testifying about the abuse he claimed to have suffered at the hands of family members.
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    On February 16, 2011, Rooney was granted a temporary restraining order against Christopher Aber and Aber's wife, Christina.
    More Details Hide Details Aber was one of Jan Rooney's two sons from a previous marriage. The court order stated that the Abers were to stay 100 yards from Rooney, his stepson Mark Rooney and his wife, Charlene Rooney. Mickey charged Chris and Christina Aber with elder abuse and fraud, and Rooney's attorneys alleged that Aber "threatens, intimidates, bullies and harasses Mickey" and refused to reveal the actor's finances to him, "other than to tell him that he is broke."
  • 2010
    Age 89
    On September 23, 2010, he celebrated his 90th birthday at Feinstein's at Loews Regency on the Upper East Side of New York City.
    More Details Hide Details Among those who attended the fete were Donald Trump, Regis Philbin, Nathan Lane and Tony Bennett.
  • 2007
    Age 86
    Rooney made his British pantomime debut, playing Baron Hardup in Cinderella, at the Sunderland Empire Theatre over the 2007 Christmas period, a role he reprised at Bristol Hippodrome in 2008 and at the Milton Keynes theatre in 2009.
    More Details Hide Details In 2011, Rooney made a brief cameo appearance in The Muppets and in 2014, at age 93, he reprised his role as Gus in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. Although confined to a wheelchair, he was described by director Shawn Levy as "energetic and so pleased to be there. He was just happy to be invited to the party." An October 2015 article in The Hollywood Reporter maintained that Rooney was frequently abused and financially depleted by his closest relatives in the last years of his life. The article said that it was clear that "one of the biggest stars of all time, who remained aloft longer than anyone in Hollywood history, was in the end brought down by those closest to him. He died humiliated and betrayed, nearly broke and often broken." Rooney suffered from bipolar disorder and attempted suicide two or three times over the years, with resulting hospitalizations reported as "nervous breakdowns".
    On May 26, 2007, he was grand marshal at the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival.
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  • 2006
    Age 85
    In 2006, Rooney played Gus in Night at the Museum, a comedy starring Ben Stiller and Robin Williams.
    More Details Hide Details He returned to play the role again in the sequel Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian in 2009, in a scene that was deleted from the final film.
  • 2005
    Age 84
    Rooney and his wife, Jan, toured the country in 2005 through 2011 in a musical revue called Let's Put on a Show.
    More Details Hide Details Vanity Fair called it "a homespun affair full of dog-eared jokes" that featured Rooney singing George Gershwin songs.
  • 1996
    Age 75
    He declared bankruptcy for a second time in 1996, and described himself as "broke" in 2005.
    More Details Hide Details He kept performing on stage and in the movies.
  • 1994
    Age 73
    He wrote a novel about a child star, published in 1994, The Search For Sunny Skies.
    More Details Hide Details Despite the millions of dollars that he earned over the years, such as his $65,000 a week earnings from Sugar Babies, Rooney was plagued by financial problems late in life. His longtime gambling habit caused him to "gamble away his fortune again and again."
  • 1991
    Age 70
    Rooney wrote a memoir titled Life is Too Short, published by Villard Books in 1991.
    More Details Hide Details A Library Journal review said that "From title to the last line, 'I'll have a short bier', Rooney's self-deprecating humor powers this book."
  • 1982
    Age 61
    On television, he starred in the short-lived sitcom, One of the Boys, along with two unfamiliar young stars, Dana Carvey and Nathan Lane, in 1982.
    More Details Hide Details He toured Canada in a dinner theatre production of The Mind with the Naughty Man in the mid-1990s. He played The Wizard in a stage production of The Wizard of Oz with Eartha Kitt at Madison Square Garden. Kitt was later replaced by Jo Anne Worley.
  • FIFTIES
  • 1979
    Age 58
    The show opened on Broadway on October 8, 1979, to rave reviews, and this time he did not throw success away.
    More Details Hide Details The show turned out to be a spectacular hit," and Rooney and Miller performed the show 1,208 times in New York and then toured with it for five years, including eight months in London. Co-star Miller recalls that Rooney "never missed a performance or a chance to ad-lib or read the lines the same way twice, if he even stuck to the script." Biographer Alvin Marill states that "at 59, Mickey Rooney was reincarnated as a baggy-pants comedian—back as a top banana in show biz in his belated Broadway debut." Following this, he toured as Pseudelous in Stephen Sondheim's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. In the 1990s, he returned to Broadway for the final months of Will Rogers Follies, playing the ghost of Will's father.
    A major turning point came in 1979, when Rooney made his Broadway debut in the acclaimed stage play Sugar Babies, a musical revue tribute to the burlesque era costarring former MGM dancing star Ann Miller.
    More Details Hide Details Aljean Harmetz noted that "Mr. Rooney fought over every skit and argued over every song and almost always got things done his way.
  • 1978
    Age 57
    Finally, in 1978, Rooney married his eighth wife, Jan Chamberlin.
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  • FORTIES
  • 1969
    Age 48
    He was married to Carolyn Hockett from 1969–74, but financial instability ended the relationship.
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  • 1964
    Age 43
    In 1964, he launched another half-hour sitcom, Mickey, on ABC. The story line had "Mickey" operating a resort hotel in southern California. His own son Tim Rooney appeared as his character's teenage son on this program, and Emmaline Henry starred as Rooney's wife. The program lasted for 17 episodes, ending primarily due to the suicide of co-star Sammee Tong in October 1964.
    More Details Hide Details Rooney garnered a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Special for his role in 1981's Bill. Playing opposite Dennis Quaid, Rooney's character was a mentally handicapped man attempting to live on his own after leaving an institution. His acting quality in the film has been favorably compared to other actors who took on similar roles, including Sean Penn, Dustin Hoffman and Tom Hanks. He reprised his role in 1983's Bill: On His Own, earning an Emmy nomination for the turn. Rooney did voice acting from time to time. He provided the voice of Santa Claus in four stop-motion animated Christmas TV specials: Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town (1970), The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974), Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July (1979) and A Miser Brothers' Christmas (2008). In 1995, he appeared as himself on The Simpsons episode "Radioactive Man".
  • 1963
    Age 42
    Also in 1963, in 'The Hunt' episode 9, season 1 for Suspense Theater, he played the sadistic sheriff hunting the young surfer played by James Caan.
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    In 1963, he entered CBS's The Twilight Zone, giving a one-man performance in the episode "The Last Night of a Jockey".
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  • 1962
    Age 41
    In 1962, he was cast as himself in the episode "The Top Banana" of the CBS sitcom, Pete and Gladys, starring Harry Morgan and Cara Williams.
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  • 1961
    Age 40
    In 1961, he guest-starred in the 13-week James Franciscus adventure–drama CBS television series The Investigators.
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    On December 31, 1961, he appeared on television's What's My Line and mentioned that he had already started enrolling students in the MRSE (Mickey Rooney School of Entertainment).
    More Details Hide Details His school venture never came to fruition. This was a period of professional distress for Rooney; as a childhood friend, director Richard Quine put it: "Let's face it. It wasn't all that easy to find roles for a 5-foot-3 man who'd passed the age of Andy Hardy." In 1962, his debts had forced him into filing for bankruptcy. In 1966, while Rooney was working on the film Ambush Bay in the Philippines, his wife Barbara Ann Thomason (aka Tara Thomas, Carolyn Mitchell), a former pinup model and aspiring actress who had won 17 straight beauty contests in Southern California, was found dead in their bed. Beside her was her lover, Milos Milos, an actor friend of Rooney's. Detectives ruled it murder-suicide, which was committed with Rooney's own gun. His appearance in John Frankenheimer's The Extraordinary Seaman in 1969 complemented David Niven's performance, and resulted in a friendship with co-star Faye Dunaway, which lasted until his death.
    He portrayed a Japanese character, Mr. Yunioshi, in the 1961 film version of Truman Capote's novella Breakfast at Tiffany's.
    More Details Hide Details His performance was later criticized in subsequent years as an offensive stereotype. In 2008, after defending his performance as Yunioshi for many years, Rooney said that if he had known he was going to offend people he wouldn't have done it.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1960
    Age 39
    In 1960, Rooney directed and starred in The Private Lives of Adam and Eve, an ambitious comedy known for its multiple flashbacks and many cameos.
    More Details Hide Details In the 1960s, Rooney returned to theatrical entertainment. He still accepted film roles in undistinguished films but occasionally would appear in better works, such as Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962), It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), and The Black Stallion (1979).
  • 1958
    Age 37
    In 1958, Rooney married Barbara Ann Thomason (stage name Carolyn Mitchell), but tragedy struck when she was murdered in 1966.
    More Details Hide Details He then married Barbara's best friend, Marge Lane. That marriage lasted 100 days.
    In 1958, Rooney joined Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra in hosting an episode of NBC's short-lived Club Oasis comedy and variety show.
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  • 1957
    Age 36
    Rooney also starred as a ragingly egomaniacal television comedian, loosely based on Red Buttons, in the live 90-minute television drama The Comedian, in the Playhouse 90 series on the evening of Valentine's Day in 1957, and as himself in a revue called The Musical Revue of 1959 based on the 1929 film The Hollywood Revue of 1929, which was edited into a film in 1960, by British International Pictures.
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  • 1952
    Age 31
    He married actress Elaine Mahnken, better known as Elaine Devry, in 1952. They divorced in 1958.
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  • 1951
    Age 30
    In 1951, he directed a feature film for Columbia Pictures, My True Story starring Helen Walker.
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  • TWENTIES
  • 1949
    Age 28
    His marriage to actress Martha Vickers in 1949 produced one son but ended in divorce in 1951.
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    In 1949 Variety reported that Rooney had renegotiated his deal with MGM.
    More Details Hide Details He agreed to make one film a year for them for five years at $25,000 a movie (his fee until then had been $100,000 but Rooney wanted to enter independent production.) Rooney claimed he was unhappy with the billing MGM gave him for Words and Music. His first television series, The Mickey Rooney Show: Hey, Mulligan (created by Blake Edwards with Rooney as his own producer), appeared on NBC television for 32 episodes between August 28, 1954, and June 4, 1955.
  • 1948
    Age 27
    He briefly starred in a CBS radio series, Shorty Bell, in the summer of 1948, and reprised his role as "Andy Hardy", with most of the original cast, in a syndicated radio version of The Hardy Family in 1949 and 1950 (repeated on Mutual during 1952).
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    He appeared in a number of films, including Words and Music in 1948, which paired him for the last time with Garland on film (he appeared with her on one episode as a guest on her CBS variety series in 1963).
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  • 1944
    Age 23
    While stationed in the military in Alabama in 1944, Rooney met and married local beauty queen Betty Jane Phillips, who later became known as a singer under the name BJ Baker.
    More Details Hide Details They had two sons together. This marriage ended in divorce after he returned from Europe at the end of World War II.
    In 1944, Rooney was drafted into the United States Army.
    More Details Hide Details He served more than 21 months, until shortly after the end of World War II in Special Services entertaining the troops in America and Europe. He spent part of the time as a radio personality on the American Forces Network and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for entertaining troops in combat zones. In addition to the Bronze Star Medal, Rooney also received the Army Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, and World War II Victory Medal, for his military service. After his return to civilian life, his career slumped. Now an adult with a height of only 5'2", he could no longer play the role of a teenager yet lacked the stature of most leading men.
  • 1942
    Age 21
    Rooney married his first wife, Ava Gardner, Hollywood starlet at the age of 21 (she was 19) in 1942, but the two were divorced in 1943, well before she became a star in her own right.
    More Details Hide Details She divorced him because he couldn't remain faithful to her.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1940
    Age 19
    A major star in the early 1940s, he appeared on the cover of Time magazine in 1940, timed to coincide with the release of Young Tom Edison; the cover story began: Hollywood's No. 1 box office bait in 1939 was not Clark Gable, Errol Flynn or Tyrone Power, but a rope-haired, kazoo-voiced kid with a comic-strip face, who until this week had never appeared in a picture without mugging or overacting it.
    More Details Hide Details His name (assumed) was Mickey Rooney, and to a large part of the more articulate U.S. cinema audience, his name was becoming a frequently used synonym for brat. During his long career, Rooney also worked with many of the silver screen's greatest leading ladies, including Elizabeth Taylor in National Velvet (1944) and Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)." Rooney's "bumptiousness and boyish charm" as an actor would develop more "smoothness and polish" over the years, writes biographer Scott Eyman. The fact that Rooney fully enjoyed his life as an actor played a large role in those changes: Clarence Brown, who directed Rooney in his Oscar-nominated performance in The Human Comedy (1943) and again in National Velvet (1944), enjoyed working with Rooney in films: In 1991, Rooney was honored by the Young Artist Foundation with its Former Child Star "Lifetime Achievement" Award recognizing his achievements within the film industry as a child actor. After presenting the award to Rooney, the foundation subsequently renamed the accolade "The Mickey Rooney Award" in his honor.
    For their roles in Boys Town, Rooney and Tracy won first and second place in the Motion Picture Herald 1940 National Poll of Exhibitors, based on the box office appeal of 200 players.
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  • 1939
    Age 18
    In 1939, he was the first of many Hollywood stars to appear as an animated caricature in the Donald Duck cartoon The Autograph Hound.
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    The popularity of his films made Rooney the biggest box-office draw in 1939, 1940 and 1941.
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    Rooney was awarded a special Juvenile Academy Award in 1939 and Tracy won the Oscar for Best Actor.
    More Details Hide Details Wayne describes one of the "most famous scenes" in the film, where tough young Rooney is playing poker with a cigarette in his mouth, his hat is cocked and his feet are up on the table. "Tracy grabs him by the lapels, throws the cigarette away and pushes him into a chair. 'That's better,' he tells Mickey."
    Rooney was the top box office attraction from 1939–41, and one of the best-paid actors of that era, but his career never rose to such heights again.
    More Details Hide Details Drafted into the Army during World War II, he served nearly two years entertaining over two million troops on stage and radio and was awarded a Bronze Star for performing in combat zones. Returning from the war in 1945, he was too old for juvenile roles but too short to be an adult movie star, and he was not able to obtain acting roles as significant as before. Nevertheless, Rooney was tenacious and he rebounded, his popularity renewed with well-received supporting roles in films such as Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962), It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), and The Black Stallion (1979) for which he was nominated for an Oscar. In the early 1980s, he returned to Broadway in Sugar Babies and again became a celebrated star. Rooney made hundreds of appearances on TV, including dramas, variety programs, and talk shows. During his career, he received four Academy Award nominations and was nominated for five Emmy Awards, winning one.
    At nineteen he was the first teenager to be nominated for an Oscar for his leading role in Babes in Arms, and he was awarded a special Academy Juvenile Award in 1939.
    More Details Hide Details At the peak of his career between the ages of 15 and 25, he made forty-three films and co-starred alongside Judy Garland, Wallace Beery, Spencer Tracy, and Elizabeth Taylor. He was one of MGM's most consistently successful actors and a favorite of studio head Louis B. Mayer.
  • 1938
    Age 17
    For his acting the part in fifteen Andy Hardy films, he received an honorary Oscar in 1938 for "bringing to the screen the spirit and personification of youth" and for "setting a high standard of ability and achievement."
    More Details Hide Details Rooney's talents were multiple. In an appraisal after his death, Nancy Jo Sales recounted in Vanity Fair that "He could sing, he could act, he could dance. He learned to play the banjo—scarily well—in a day. He played the drums like a pro. He was an expert golfer, a champion ping-pong player. He composed a symphony, Melodante, which he performed on the piano at Franklin Roosevelt's 1941 Inauguration Gala. Mickey was some kind of beautiful, talented monster." "There was nothing he couldn't do", said actress Margaret O'Brien. MGM boss Louis B. Mayer treated him like a son and saw in Rooney "the embodiment of the amiable American boy who stands for family, humbug, and sentiment," writes critic and author, David Thomson. By the time Rooney was 20, his consistent portrayals of characters with youth and energy suggested that his future success was unlimited. Thomson also explains that Rooney's characters were able to cover a wide range of emotional types, and gives three examples where "Rooney is not just an actor of genius, but an artist able to maintain a stylized commentary on the demon impulse of the small, belligerent man:"
  • 1937
    Age 16
    In 1937, Rooney received top billing as Shockey Carter in Hoosier Schoolboy but his breakthrough-role as a dramatic actor came in 1938's Boys Town opposite Spencer Tracy as Father Flanagan, who runs a home for wayward and homeless boys in Omaha, Nebraska, and helps the boys get their lives back together.
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    In 1937, Rooney made his first film alongside Judy Garland with Thoroughbreds Don't Cry.
    More Details Hide Details Garland and Rooney became close friends as they co-starred in future films and became a successful song-and-dance team. Audiences delighted in seeing the "playful interactions between the two stars showcase a wonderful chemistry." Along with three of the Andy Hardy films, where she portrayed a girl with a crush on Andy, they appeared together in a string of successful musicals, including the Oscar-nominated Babes in Arms (1939). During an interview in the 1992 documentary film MGM: When the Lion Roars, Rooney describes their friendship: Judy and I were so close we could've come from the same womb. We weren't like brothers or sisters but there was no love affair there; there was more than a love affair. It's very, very difficult to explain the depths of our love for each other. It was so special. It was a forever love. Judy, as we speak, has not passed away. She's always with me in every heartbeat of my body.
    In 1937, Rooney was selected to portray Andy Hardy in A Family Affair, which MGM had planned as a B-movie.
    More Details Hide Details Rooney provided comic relief as the son of Judge James K. Hardy, portrayed by Lionel Barrymore (although Lewis Stone would play the role of Judge Hardy in subsequent films). The film was an unexpected success, and led to 13 more Andy Hardy films between 1937 and 1946, and a final film in 1958. According to author Barry Monush, MGM wanted the Andy Hardy films to appeal to all family members. Rooney's character would portray a typical "anxious, hyperactive, girl-crazy teenager", and he soon became the unintended main star of the films. Although some critics describe the series of films as "sweet, overly idealized, and pretty much interchangeable," their ultimate success was because they gave viewers a "comforting portrait of small-town America that seemed suited for the times", with Rooney instilling "a lasting image of what every parent wished their teen could be like."
    MGM cast Rooney as the teenage son of a judge in 1937's A Family Affair, setting Rooney on the way to another successful film series.
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  • 1934
    Age 13
    Rooney made other films in his adolescence, including several more of the McGuire films, and signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1934.
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  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1927
    Age 6
    Joe got the role and became "Mickey" for 78 of the comedies, running from 1927–36, starting with Mickey's Circus, his first starring role, released September 4, 1927.
    More Details Hide Details The film was long believed lost, but in 2014 was reported found in the Netherlands. The Mickey McGuire films were adapted from the Toonerville Trolley comic strip, which contained a character named Mickey McGuire. Joe Yule briefly became Mickey McGuire legally in order to trump an attempted copyright lawsuit (if it was his legal name, the film producer Larry Darmour did not owe the comic strip writers royalties). His mother also changed her surname to McGuire in an attempt to bolster the argument, but the film producers lost. The litigation settlement awarded damages to the owners of the cartoon character, compelling the twelve-year-old actor to refrain from calling himself Mickey McGuire on- and off-screen. Rooney later claimed that during his Mickey McGuire days he met cartoonist Walt Disney at the Warner Brothers studio, and that Disney was inspired to name Mickey Mouse after him, although Disney always said that he had changed the name from "Mortimer Mouse" to "Mickey Mouse" on the suggestion of his wife.
  • 1926
    Age 5
    Joe Yule Jr.'s very first film appearance came in 1926, when he was in the short subject Not to be Trusted, but his breakthrough film role came a year later.
    More Details Hide Details Fontaine Fox had placed a newspaper ad for a dark-haired child to play the role of "Mickey McGuire" in a series of short films. Lacking the money to have her son's hair dyed, Mrs. Yule took her son to the audition after applying burnt cork to his scalp.
  • 1924
    Age 3
    The Yules separated in 1924 during a slump in vaudeville when Rooney was just 4 years old, and in 1925, Nell Yule moved with her son from Brooklyn to Hollywood, where she managed a tourist home.
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  • 1920
    Born
    Rooney was born Joseph Yule, Jr. on September 23, 1920, in Brooklyn, New York, the only child of vaudevillians Joe Yule (born Ninian Joseph Ewell; 1892–1950), a native of Glasgow, Scotland, and Nellie W. Carter (1897–1966), who was from Kansas City, Missouri.
    More Details Hide Details At the time of their son's birth, they were appearing in a Brooklyn production of A Gaiety Girl. Rooney later recounted in his memoirs that he began performing at the age of 17 months as part of his parents' routine, wearing a specially tailored tuxedo. According to another account, he first appeared before audiences at 15 months in his parents' vaudeville act, "singing 'Pal o' My Cradle Days' while sporting a tuxedo and holding a rubber cigar." His mother was a former chorus girl and a burlesque performer. Another account states that Rooney began performing at the age of ten months, then became a regular part of his father's act, and at the age of three became a part of the vaudeville act of comedian Sid Gold. While Joe Sr. was traveling, Joe Jr. and his mother moved from Brooklyn to Kansas City to live with his aunt. While his mother was reading the entertainment newspaper, Nellie was interested in getting Hal Roach to approach her son to participate in the Our Gang series in Hollywood. Roach offered $5 a day to Joe, Jr., while the other young stars were paid five times more. As he was getting bit parts in films, he began working with established film stars such as Joel McCrea, Colleen Moore, Clark Gable, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Jean Harlow. While selling newspapers around the corner, he enrolled in the Hollywood Professional School and later attended Hollywood High School, from which he graduated in 1938.
Original Authors of this text are noted here.
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