Mickey Rooney biography
Mickey Rooney was born on September 23, 1920, in Brooklyn. His first stage appearance was in his parents' vaudeville act, and in 1937 he played Andy Hardy in the first of 15 films featuring the character. He co-starred with Judy Garland in a successful series of musicals, including Babes in Arms, and was awarded a special juvenile Oscar in 1938. Rooney continues to work as a character actor.
Originally known as Joe Yule Jr., Mickey Rooney first took the stage as a toddler in his parents' vaudeville act. He made his first film appearance in 1926, playing a midget. 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 reached new heights in 1937 with A Family Affair, the film that introduced the country to Andy Hardy, an all-American teenager. This beloved character appeared in nearly 20 films and helped make Rooney a top star at the box office. In 1938, Rooney received a special miniature Academy Award for his "contribution in bringing to the screen the spirit and personification of youth" for his work on the Andy Hardy film series.
Teaming up with Judy Garland, Rooney also appeared in a string of musicals, including Babes in Arms (1939) and Girl Crazy (1943). He and Garland, who had first worked together in an Andy Hardy movie, became good friends. "We weren't just a team, we were magic," Rooney once said. He also appeared with Elizabeth Taylor in the now-classic National Velvet (1944) around this time.
Later Challenges and Triumphs
After serving in the military during World War II, Rooney took on a variety of roles. He appeared in such musicals as Summer Holiday (1948) and such dramas as Killer McCoy (1947) and The Big Wheel (1949), but none of these pictures matched his earlier successes on the big screen.
As his cinematic clout seemed to fade, he turned to television. The Mickey Rooney Show only ran from 1954 to 1955, however. Still, the consummate entertainer pressed on, making television guest appearances, performing in nightclubs and landing a few smaller film parts. One of his most notable roles from this time was in the war drama The Bold and the Brave (1956), which showed that he could shine in a serious role. He also appeared in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard. Rooney played Hepburn's Asian neighbor Mr. Yunioshi. Tackling another dramatic role, he played a boxing trainer in Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962) with Anthony Quinn and Jackie Gleason.
Experiencing a career slump in the late 1960s and 1970s, Rooney showed audiences and critics alike why he is one of Hollywood's most enduring stars. He gave an impressive performance in 1979's The Black Stallion, which brought him an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor. Around this time, Rooney also wowed theater audiences in a revival of Sugar Babies with Ann Miller on Broadway. The pair took the hit show on the road as well.
In 1981, Rooney won an Emmy Award for his portrayal of a mentally challenged man in Bill. The critical acclaim continued to flow for the veteran performer, with Rooney receiving a honorary Academy Award "in recognition of his 60 years of versatility in a variety of memorable film performances."
Now in his nineties, Rooney continues to act. He has appeared in such films as Night at the Museum (2006) with Ben Stiller, and The Muppets (2011). Outside of performing, Rooney has chosen to use his distinctive voice to speak out about elder abuse. He testified about the issue in Congress in 2011.
Sadly, the actor knows firsthand how vulnerable the more senior members of society are. Rooney filed suit against his stepson Chris Aber, claiming that Aber and his wife verbally and financially abused him. He stated that he was misled by the pair about his money situation, they used his funds to cover their expenses, and they denied him needed food and medicine, among other offenses. Aber is the son of Rooney's eighth wife, Jan.
Mickey and Jan have been married since 1978 and live in Los Angeles. Among his seven other marriages was his brief union with actress Ava Gardner in 1942. Rooney had two sons, Mickey Jr. and Timothy (who died in 2006), with second wife Betty Jane Rase. With third wife Martha Vickers, he welcomed son Theodore. Kelly, Kerry, Michael and Kimmy came from his fifth marriage, to Barbara Ann Thomason, which ended in tragedy in 1966. Thomason was murdered, leaving Rooney with four young children to care for. Rooney adopted Jimmy, the son of sixth wife Carolyn Hockett. Rooney and Hockett also had a daughter together, Jonelle.