Mickey Rooney, a triple threat actor who in his heyday could sing, dance and act, passed away on April 6 according to an April 6 report on Yahoo Movies. A giant box office attraction of the 30’s and 40’s, Rooney was best known for his ‘Andy Hardy’ films, “Boys Town” and a career that spanned 8 decades and more than 300 films.
His career brought him 4 Academy Award nominations and 2 special Oscar awards, one a juvenile award in 1939 and the other a lifetime achievement award in 1983. He also earned an Emmy for his portrayal of title character in the TV movie “Bill.” He also earned Emmy nominations on 3 other occasions and a Tony nomination for “Sugar Babies,” a musical revue he did in 1980 with Ann Miller.
His personal life saw as many highs and lows as his professional one. Rooney was married a total of 8 times and was forced to file bankruptcy in 1962.
While still in his teens, Rooney was involved in many popular films including a turn as Puck in the 1935 version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” From there he climbed the ladder to stardom with a week-to-week contract at MGM. He racked up movie roles in the likes of “Ah Wilderness,” “Little Lord Fauntleroy,” “Captains Courageous” and “Boy’s Town,” with the latter being alongside powerhouse Spencer Tracy.
He first brought his signature character, Andy Hardy, to life in “A Family Affair.” The Hardys were so popular that it spawned a 15 film franchise and earned Rooney an enormous $150,000 per year salary before he turned 20. IN 1939, he won his Juvenile Oscar for the role.
The next year, he earned another nomination, this time for appearing alongside star and pal, Judy Garland in “Babes in Arms. This was the first of several successful pairings of the 2 stars. Other films they did together included “Strike Up the Band,” “Babes on Broadway” and “Girl Crazy.” His first adult role came opposite eternal beauty Elizabeth Taylor in “National Velvet.”
Rooney served in the U.S. Army from 1944 to 1946 as an entertainer, travelling roughly 150,000 miles to keep the troops entertained. Afterward he tried to make the leap from child actor to adult actor with only moderate success.
Mickey Rooney is survived by wife Jan Chamberlin, a singer he married in 1978; son Mickey Rooney Jr. from his marriage to singer Betty Jane Rase; son Theodore Michael Rooney from his marriage to actress Martha Vickers; daughters Kelly Ann Rooney, Kerry Rooney and Kimmy Sue Rooney and son Michael Joseph Rooney from his marriage to Barbara Ann Thomason; and daughter Jonelle Rooney and adopted son Jimmy Rooney from his marriage to Carolyn Hockett.
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