Mickey Rooney, Hollywood Legend, Dead At 93

By: CBS
By: CBS

Legendary actor Mickey Rooney died Sunday. He was 93.

Larry Dietz, a Los Angeles County Coroner's office duty officer, confirmed the death to CBS News. No further information was available.

When it came down to it, Rooney knew how to fix anything: He put on a show for nearly nine decades as an entertainer -- sometimes a ham, sometimes a 5-foot-3-inch smart aleck.

But there was no one bigger at the box office in the late '30s. He was so popular that Rooney himself declared that Walt Disney named a certain cartoon mouse after him. Just as famous as his films were his marriages -- eight of them, including sex siren Ava Gardner. He and his most recent wife, Jan Chamberlin, separated in June 2012.

"I've been married so many times, I'm the only guy you know that has a marriage license made out 'to whom it may concern,'" Rooney once said.

Rooney was born Joesph Yule Jr. to vaudeville parents; he started in silent films at the age of 6. Talkies followed, including a 20-year-run playing an all-American boy-next-door named Andy Hardy, whose first obsession was an all-American girl-next-door Judy Garland, including "Babes in Arms" (1939), "Strike up the Band" (1940), "Babes on Broadway" (1941) and "Girl Crazy" (1943). They went on to star together in other musicals as well. Call it chemistry, call it movie magic. Together, they were unstoppable.

Rooney did drama, too. His first serious role was the troubled youngster to Spencer Tracy's patient priest in "Boys Town" -- a film that earned him the first of his two honorary Oscars. He also played opposite Elizabeth Taylor in "National Velvet" and with Anthony Quinn in "Requiem for a Heavyweight."

In "Breakfast at Tiffany's," Rooney played a caricature of a Japanese man -- politically incorrect by today's standards. Although he turned down the role of the deliberately politically incorrect Archie Bunker in the TV show, "All in the Family."

When others were ready to write him off, he teamed with dancer Ann Miller in "Sugar Babies," an old-fashioned burlesque review that ran for years on Broadway and on tour. At the same time, he earned an Emmy for his role as a mentally-challenged man in the 1981 TV film, "Bill."

Younger audiences probably know him from "A Night at the Museum" (2006) and "The Muppets" (2011) with Amy Adams and Jason Segel.

"There's no work to this. This is all fun," he once said. "This is where I come alive. It's entirely fun, exhilarating. It gives you energy, enthusiasm."

But his life was a roller-coaster. Rooney owed millions to the IRS, and came back, battled the bottle, and found religion.

In 2011, he went before a Congressional committee investigating elder abuse, and complained he was being taken advantage of by his stepson, Christopher Aber and Aber's wife.

His stepson denied the accusation, but Rooney had star power to his advantage, as he took to a national stage one last time. He was active as recently as this year, stepping out for the Vanity Fair Oscars party in March.

Rooney survived by nine children.

FAST FACTS:

Here's a look at the life of Mickey Rooney.

Personal: Birth date: September 23, 1920

Birth place: Brooklyn, New York

Birth name: Joseph Yule Jr.

Father: Joseph Yule Sr., vaudeville performer

Mother: Nell (Carter) Yule, vaudeville performer

Marriages: Janice "Jan" Chamberlain (July 28, 1978-present); Carolyn Hockett, (May 27, 1969-November 14, 1974, divorced); Margie Lane (September 10, 1966-December 14, 1967, divorced); Barbara Ann Thompson (December 01, 1958-January 03, 1966, her death); Elaine Mahnken (November 15, 1952-May 18, 1958, divorced); Martha Vickers (June 3, 1949-September 25, 1951, divorced); Betty Jane Rase (September 30, 1944-June 03, 1949, divorced); Ava Gardner (January 10, 1942-May 21, 1943, divorced)

Children: 2 stepchildren with Jan: Christopher Aber and Mark Aber Rooney; with Carolyn: Jonell; Jimmy (both adopted, Carolyn's from a previous marriage); with Barbara: Kelly Ann, September 13, 1959; Kerry, December 29, 1960; Michael Joseph Kyle, April 2, 1962; Kimmy Sue, September 13, 1963; with Martha: Teddy, April 13, 1950; with Betty Jane: Mickey Jr. (also known as Joseph Yule III), July 4, 1945; Tim, January 6, 1947-September 23, 2006

Education: Fairfax High School, Los Angeles, California; Pacific Military Academy, Culver City, California; Attended studio school at MGM Studios

Military: U.S. Army, 1944-1946

Other Facts: American actor, singer, dancer, composer, writer and director.

Rooney was awarded a Bronze Star in World War II for entertaining troops.

Has been in show business for over 90 years, since his start in vaudeville at age one.

Has appeared in more than 300 film and television roles.

Number one box office actor in the United States from 1939 through 1941.

Nominated for 5 Emmys, 4 Academy Awards and 1 Tony. Recipient of 1 Emmy and 2 special Academy Awards.

Timeline: 1920s - Makes his first theatrical appearance at age one, and then regularly appears as part of his parents' vaudeville act.

1926 - Appears in his first movie, "Not to be Trusted."

1927 - Is cast as the lead in the Mickey McGuire movies.

1932 - Legally changes his name to Mickey Rooney.

1934 - Is cast in "Manhattan Melodrama." This leads to a long-term contract with MGM.

1937 - "A Family Affair," first of the popular "Andy Hardy" series, in which Rooney stars as the title character, is released.

1939 - Receives a special Academy Award for his contribution as a juvenile actor.

1944 - Enters the service for 21 months to entertain troops during World War II.

1954 - "The Mickey Rooney Show" premieres on television, and lasts one season.

1982 - Wins an Emmy Award for Outstanding Leading Actor in a Limited Series or Special for "Bill."

1983 - Receives an honorary Academy Award for recognition of 60 years in motion pictures.

2003 - Is made honorary mayor for life of Boys Town. In the movie, "Boys Town," Rooney's character, Whitey Marsh, is elected mayor.

February 16, 2011 - Takes out a restraining order against stepson Chris Aber and Chris's wife Christina. Rooney claims elder abuse and financial mismanagement at the hands of the Abers.

March 2, 2011 - Testifies before the Senate Special Committee on Aging about elder abuse.

March 25, 2011 - Financial affairs are put in conservatorship after $400,000 is found missing from Rooney's accounts. The Abers agree to stay away from Rooney and his home without admitting to any wrongdoing.

September 2011 - Rooney files lawsuit against stepson Chris Aber and Aber's wife Christina for elder abuse.

Posted by Greg Palmer


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