Skip to main content

See also:

Former child star and award winning actor Mickey Rooney dead at 93

Life and times of Mickey Rooney.
Life and times of Mickey Rooney.
Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images

Mickey Rooney passed away Sunday from natural causes, he was 93 years old. Best known for his roles as a child star during the 30's and 40's in the films "Babes in Arms", "The Human Comedy" and the Andy Hardy film series. During the latter part of his career, Rooney was nominated twice for an Academy Award ("Black Stallion" and "The Bold and the Brave") and received an honorary Oscar for "Fifty years of versatility in a variety of memorable film performances" along with an Emmy and Golden Globe Award for his performance in the made-for-TV movie "Bill". He was one of the few child stars who made the transition into more adult roles and continued to work in show business until he passed away.

Mickey Rooney
Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Born Ninian Joseph Yule Jr. and raised in Brooklyn show business was in his blood. Both of his parents were vaudeville performers and he began his acting career at the tender age of a year and a half (as part of his parents' act). Mickey Rooney started in Hollywood by appearing in a short film produced by the Fox Film Corporation (under the stage name "Mickey McBan". He later starred in sixty-four short films under the name "Mickey McGuire" from 1927-1934. During this time he was also making guest starring roles in films such as "The Life of Jimmy Dolan", "My Pal, the King" and "Manhattan Melodrama". In 1935 he appeared as Puck in the film "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and it was the break his was looking for. Instead of appearing in shorts, Rooney was making the move to bigger roles in larger films and in 1937 he did so with the role of Andy Hardy in "A Family Affair".

The role of Andy Hardy solidified himself as a rising star who could move beyond the childish short films and bit parts. Rooney appeared as the lovestruck youngster in sixteen films for the next twenty years. In the Andy Hardy movie "Love Finds Andy Hardy", he would be paired with another child star Judy Garland and the two would become box office gold. During the box office smash of the Andy Hardy series, he would also star in such notable films as "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", "Babes in Arms", "Young Tom Edison", "Babes on Broadway", "The Human Comedy" and "National Velvet" before joining the U.S. Army during World War II. Whilst serving in the armed forces, the 5' 2" Rooney would do his part by entertaining the soldiers and worked with the Armed Forces Network as a radio personality.

After the war, Rooney would make the transition from young adolescent star into an adult actor. It was hard at first with not a lot of lucrative acting roles being sent his way. During this time he would also return to acting on stage and finding a place on the small screen. In 1955 he had his own television series on NBC titled "The Mickey Rooney Show"(which lasted 33 episodes). Rooney would humble himself by staring with a talking mule in the film "Francis in the Haunted House" and other b-movies such as the "Magnificent Roughnecks", "The Atomic Kid" and "The Twinkle in God's Eye" before being nominated for an Academy Award for his roles as Dooley in "The Bold and the Brave". During the next few decades Rooney would continue to work in television and b-movies until finding success again in the 1980 film "Black Stallion"and once again would be nominated for an Academy Award for the role of Henry Dailey. The following year he would win a Golden Globe and Emmy Award for lead role of Bill in the made-for-TV movie "Bill".

Mickey Rooney's personal life was as much of a rollercoaster as his film career. He was married eight times and had nine children. Amongst his wives were actresses Ava Gardner, Martha Vickers and Elaine Devry. At the time of his death he was separated from his eighth wife Jan. Rooney battled drug and alcohol addiction along with bankruptcy. But he managed to free himself from those problems and continued to work in show business along with devoting time to many different charities and causes.

Mickey Rooney was one of the last of his generation of actors. He appeared in black and white silent productions along with being one of the more successful child star actors. Over the years he managed to adapt to Hollywood and always managed to stay in the business. Whether it was on the stage, silver or small screen Mickey Rooney was a star along with a charisma that only a few actors possess and now he belongs to the ages.