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Long-time Actor Mickey Rooney dead at 93

Mickey Rooney attends 2014 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carton on Mar. 2, 2014
Pascal Le Segretain-Getty Imaages

Police confirmed that long-time Actor Mickey Rooney, who appeared in more than 200 films and was nominated for four Oscars, died Sunday at 93 years old.

Rooney began his career as a toddler vaudevillian. He was the biggest box-office draw in Hollywood in 1939 and spent the next 70 years trying with varying success to make his way back to that pinnacle, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Rooney received multiple awards, including a Juvenile Academy Award, an Honorary Academy Award, two Golden Globes and an Emmy Award. Working as a performer since he was a child, he was a superstar as a teenager for the films in which he played Andy Hardy. He had one of the longest careers of any actors, spanning 92 years actively making films in ten decades from the 1920s to the 2010s.

He started in the silent era as a toddler and until his death, was one of the last surviving stars who worked in the silent film era.

At the age of 7, Rooney was popular in Mickey McGuire shorts where he starred a street-wise Irish kid. As a teen he played the part of a frenetic teenager. During his special juvenile Oscar citation the Academy Award committee said he brought “the spirit and personification of youth” to the screen.

He starred with Judy Garlan in Babes in Arms in 1939. That same year the pair starred in the top-grossing film. Other notable films from that period include “Boys Town,” “National Velvet” and “The Adventures of Huckelberry Finn.”

Rooney returned in the 1950s as a TV star, continuing his movie career with smaller roles. He continued acting and working dinner theaters until 1980, when he unexpectedly won the best actor Tony on his Broadway debut in the burlesque musical “Sugar Babies.”

Mickey Rooney had eight marriages by 1980, including a brief one to Ava Gardner and another to the former Miss Muscle Beach who later died in a murder-suicide with her lover. He became a born-again Christian and lived through bankruptcy, drug dependency and playing Mr. Yunioshi in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

At the time, he said, “I am what most people would call a survivor.”

He won an Emmy for the 1981 telemovie “Bill,” in which he convincingly played a mentally handicapped adult.

He was born in Brooklyn, his birth name was Joe Yule Jr. He was the son of a vaudevillian and a dancer. He was on stage from the time he could walk, appearing in a tuxedo as “Sonny Yule.” He sang tear-jerking songs from the stage to his mother. His parents divorced when he was 5. His mother then moved to Hollywood where Rooney starred as Mickey McGuire, then Andy Hardy. Along the way he changed his name to Mickey Rooney.

Into his late 80s Rooney maintained a busy schedule, performing live shows with his eighth wife, Jan Chamberlin, singing songs from old movies and telling stories. He will be greatly missed.

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