Mickey Rooney was one of the greatest actors of Hollywood with the longest career spanning over nine decades. He appeared in more than 300 films, notable for his charisma, enthusiasm, and adaptability of any character. He was one of the highest-paid actors of his era and was among the last surviving stars of the silent film era.
Mickey Rooney made his first stage appearance at the age of 17 months in his parents’ vaudeville act. He made his film debut at the age of six as a cigar-smoking midget con man in the silent short “Not to Be Trusted (1926)”. Over the next few years, Rooney starred as a tough, cocky kid in a series of comedy shorts. He took the stage name Mickey Rooney during that time. Rooney made another breakthrough at the age of 14 and portrayed the role of Puck in the play which later turned into the 1935 film “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Rooney became the first teenager to be nominated for an Academy Award at the age of nineteen. His career-changing role came in 1937 when he portrayed the role of And Hardy, the popular all-American teenager. He repeated this character in the next 20 films and reached the top of the box office. Between the ages of 15 and 25, Rooney had appeared in 43 films.
Rooney during WWII
At the peak of his career, Rooney was drafted into the US military during World War II. He served nearly two years entertaining over two million troops on stage and radio and was awarded a Bronze Star for performing in combat zones. After returning in 1945, Rooney failed to get prominence and reputation, because audiences preferred the juvenile Rooney to the grown-up one.
However, he performed in many low-budgeted movies during the 1950s and earned a reputation as a fine character actor in many roles. In 1961, he received the best supporting role in a romantic comedy film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. Throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s he portrayed many characters and made hundreds of appearances on TV, including dramas, variety programs, and talk shows.
Mickey Rooney’s personal life
Rooney was married eight times, with six of the marriages ending in divorce. He married actress Ava Gardner in 1942 who was a teenage starlet at that time. The marriage only lasted for a year and ended with a divorce. Rooney later married Betty Jane Phillips, actress Martha Vickers, actress Elaine Mahnken, actress Barbara Ann, Marge Lane, and Carolyn Hockett. In 1978, he married his eighth and final wife, Jan Chamberlin and their marriage lasted until his death. Rooney had nine children and two stepchildren, as well as 19 grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.
Mickey Rooney’s death
Rooney underwent double heart bypass surgery during his lifetime. He died on April 6th, 2014, at the age of 93. His death was attributed to natural causes. Rooney was taking his afternoon nap and never woke. He died owing medical bills and back taxes, and contributions were solicited from the public.
Here below are some stunning photos of Mickey Rooney from his early life and career.