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Mickey Rooney (1920)

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  Summary  

Mickey Rooney is an American film actor and entertainer whose film, television, and stage appearances span nearly his entire lifetime. He has 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, and he has had one of the longest careers of any actor, to date spanning almost 90 years actively making films in ten decades, from 1920s to 2010s. He is the last surviving male star from 1930s Hollywood. For a younger generation of fans, he gained international fame for his leading role as Henry Dailey in The Family Channel's The Adventures of the Black Stallion, as well as the film itself.

  Biography  

 early life
Rooney was born Joseph Yule, Jr. in Brooklyn, New York. His father, Joseph Yule, was from Scotland, and his mother, Nellie W. (née Carter), was from Kansas City, Missouri. Both of his parents were in vaudeville, appearing in a Brooklyn production of A Gaiety Girl when Joseph, Jr. was born. He began performing at the age of 17 months as part of his parents' routine, wearing a specially tailored tuxedo.

When he was 14 months old, unknown to everyone, he crawled on stage wearing overalls and a little harmonica around his neck. He sneezed and his father, Joe Sr., grabbed him up, introducing him to the audience as Sonny Yule. He felt the spotlight on him and has described it as his mother's womb. From that moment on, the stage was his home.

His father was a womanizer and heavy drinker, leaving the family when Joe Jr. was only three. While Joe Sr. was traveling, Joe Jr. and his mother moved from Brooklyn, New York to Kansas City, Missouri to live with his aunt. While his mother was reading the entertainment newspaper, Nellie was interested in getting Hal Roach to approach the young star to participate in the Our Gang series in Hollywood. Roach offered $5 a day to Joe Jr. while the other young stars were paid five times more.

As he was getting bit parts in films; he was working with other established film stars such as Joel McCrea, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Jean Harlow. While selling newspapers around the corner, he also entered into Hollywood Professional School, where he went to school with dozens of unfamiliar students such as: Joseph A. Wapner, Nanette Fabray, Judy Garland, Lana Turner, among many others, and later Hollywood High School, where he graduated in 1938.

 career
 Mickey McGuire
The Yules separated in 1924 during a slump in vaudeville, and in 1925, Nell Yule moved with her son to Hollywood, California, where she managed a tourist home. Fontaine Fox had placed a newspaper ad for a dark-haired child to play the role of "Mickey McGuire" in a series of short films. Lacking the money to have her son's hair dyed, Mrs. Yule took her son to the audition after applying burnt cork to his scalp. Joe got the role and became "Mickey" for 78 of the comedies, running from 1927 to 1936, starting with Mickey's Circus, released September 4, 1927. These had been adapted from the Toonerville Trolley comic strip, which contained a character named Mickey McGuire. Joe Yule briefly became Mickey McGuire legally in order to trump an attempted copyright lawsuit . His mother also changed her surname to McGuire in an attempt to bolster the argument, but the film producers lost. The litigation settlement awarded damages to the owners of the cartoon character, as well as compelled the twelve-year-old actor to refrain from calling himself by the name Mickey McGuire on and off screen.

Rooney later claimed that, during his Mickey McGuire days, he met cartoonist Walt Disney at the Warner Brothers studio, and that Disney was inspired to name Mickey Mouse after him, although Disney always said that he had changed the name from "Mortimer Mouse" to "Mickey Mouse" on the suggestion of his wife.

During an interruption in the series in 1932, Mrs. Yule made plans to take her son on a ten-week vaudeville tour as McGuire, and Fox sued successfully to stop him from using the name. Mrs. Yule suggested the stage name of Mickey Looney for her comedian son, which he altered slightly to Rooney, a less frivolous version. Rooney did other films in his adolescence, including several more of the McGuire films, and signed with MGM in 1934. MGM cast Rooney as the teenage son of a judge in 1937's A Family Affair, setting Rooney on the way to another successful film series.

 "Andy Hardy" and Judy Garland


In 1937, Rooney was selected to portray Andy Hardy in A Family Affair , which MGM had planned as a B-movie. Rooney provided comic relief as the son of Judge James K. Hardy, portrayed by Lionel Barrymore . The film was an unexpected success, and led to 13 more Andy Hardy films between 1937 and 1946, and a final film in 1958. Rooney also received top billing as "Shockey Carter" in Hoosier Schoolboy .

Also in 1937, Mickey made his first film alongside Judy Garland with Thoroughbreds Don't Cry. Garland and Rooney became close friends and a successful song and dance team. Besides three of the Andy Hardy films, where she portrayed Betsy Booth, a younger girl with a crush on Andy, they appeared together in a string of successful musicals, including the Oscar-nominated Babes in Arms . During an interview in the documentary film, When the Lion Roars, Rooney describes their friendship:


Rooney's breakthrough role as a dramatic actor came in 1938's Boys Town opposite Spencer Tracy as Whitey Marsh, which opened shortly before his 18th birthday. Rooney was awarded a special Juvenile Academy Award in 1939 and was named the biggest box-office draw in 1939, 1940 and 1941. Unquestionably a well-known entertainer by the early 1940s, Rooney, with Garland, was one of many celebrities caricatured in Tex Avery's 1941 Warner Bros. cartoon Hollywood Steps Out. As of 2011, Rooney is the only surviving entertainer depicted in the cartoon.

 After the war

In 1944, Rooney entered military service. He served more than 21 months, until shortly after the end of World War II. During and after the war he helped entertain the troops in America and Europe, and spent part of the time as a radio personality on the American Forces Network and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for entertaining troops in combat zones. In addition to the Bronze Star Medal, Rooney also received the Army Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, and World War Two Victory Medal for his military service.

After his return to civilian life, his career slumped. He appeared in a number of films, including Words and Music in 1948, which paired him for the last time with Garland on film . He briefly starred in a CBS radio series, Shorty Bell, in the summer of 1948, and reprised his role as "Andy Hardy", with most of the original cast, in a syndicated radio version of The Hardy Family in 1949 and 1950 .

His first television series, The Mickey Rooney Show: Hey, Mulligan , appeared on NBC television for thirty-two episodes between August 28, 1954 and June 4, 1955. In 1951, he directed a feature film for Columbia Pictures, My True Story starring Helen Walker. Rooney also starred as a ragingly egomaniacal television comedian in the live 90-minute television drama The Comedian, in the Playhouse 90 series on the evening of Valentine's Day in 1957, and as himself in a revue called The Musical Revue of 1959 based on the 1929 film The Hollywood Revue of 1929 which was edited into a film in 1960, by British International Pictures.

In 1958, Rooney joined Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra in hosting an episode of NBC's short-lived Club Oasis comedy and variety show. In 1960, Rooney directed and starred in The Private Lives of Adam and Eve, an ambitious comedy known for its multiple flashbacks and many cameos. In the 1960s, Rooney returned to theatrical entertainment. He still accepted film roles in undistinguished films, but occasionally would appear in better works, such as Requiem for a Heavyweight , It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World , and The Black Stallion . One of Rooney's more controversial roles came in the highly acclaimed 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany's where he played a stereotyped buck-toothed myopic Japanese neighbor of the main character, Holly Golightly. Despite Rooney's protests that he was congratulated for the role by Asians, that role would later be held up as one of the most notorious examples of Hollywood's history of stereotypical depictions of that racial group, evidenced in the film Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story when future Asian-American film star, Bruce Lee, was deeply offended seeing the film.

On December 31, 1961, he appeared on television's What's My Line and mentioned that he had already started enrolling students in the MRSE . His school venture never came to fruition, but for several years he was a spokesman/partner in Pennsylvania's Downingtown Inn, a country club and golf resort.

In 1966, while Rooney was working on the film Ambush Bay in the Philippines, his wife Barbara Ann Thomason , a former pin-up model and aspiring actress who had won 17 straight beauty contests in Southern California, was found dead in their bed. Beside her was her lover, Milos Milos, an actor friend of Rooney's. Detectives ruled it murder-suicide, which was committed with Rooney's own gun.

Rooney was awarded an Academy Juvenile Award in 1938, and in 1983 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted him their Academy Honorary Award for his lifetime of achievement. He was mentioned in the 1972 song "Celluloid Heroes" by The Kinks: "If you stomped on Mickey Rooney/ He'd still turn round and smile..."

 Character actor


In addition to his film roles, Rooney made numerous guest-starring roles as a character actor for nearly six decades, beginning with an episode of Celanese Theatre. The part led to other roles on such television series as Schlitz Playhouse, Playhouse 90, Producers' Showcase, Alcoa Theatre, Wagon Train, G.E. True Theater, Hennesey, The Dick Powell Theatre, Arrest and Trial, Burke's Law, Combat!, The Fugitive, Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre, The Jean Arthur Show, The Name of the Game, Dan August, Night Gallery, The Love Boat, Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, among many others.

 Television, stage and The Black Stallion

Rooney made a successful transition to television and stage work. In 1961, he guest starred in the 13-week James Franciscus adventure–drama television series The Investigators on CBS. In 1963, he even entered The Twilight Zone, giving a one-man performance in the episode "The Last Night of a Jockey". In 1964, he launched another half-hour sitcom, Mickey, on ABC. The story line had "Mickey" operating a resort hotel in southern California. Son Tim Rooney appeared as Rooney's teenaged son on the program, and Emmaline Henry starred as Rooney's wife. It lasted 17 episodes, ending primarily due to the suicide of co-star Sammee Tong in October 1964.

He won a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award for his role in 1981's Bill. Playing opposite Dennis Quaid, Rooney's character was a mentally challenged man attempting to live on his own after leaving an institution. He reprised his role in 1983's Bill: On His Own, earning an Emmy nomination for the role.

Rooney did the voices for four Christmas TV animated/stop action specials: Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town , The Year Without a Santa Claus , Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July , and A Miser Brothers' Christmas — always playing Santa Claus. In 1970, he was approached by television producer Norman Lear to consider taking on the role of Archie Bunker in the upcoming CBS series, All in the Family. Like Jackie Gleason before him, Mickey rejected the role, which ultimately went to Carroll O'Connor.

He continued to work on stage and television through the 1980s and 1990s, appearing in the acclaimed stage play Sugar Babies with Ann Miller beginning in 1979. He also starred in the short-lived sitcom, One of the Boys, along with 2 unfamiliar young stars, Dana Carvey and Nathan Lane, in 1982. He toured Canada in a dinner theatre production of The Mind with the Naughty Man in the mid-1990s. He played The Wizard in a stage production of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz with Eartha Kitt at Madison Square Garden. Kitt was later replaced by Jo Anne Worley. In 1995 he starred with Charlton Heston, Peter Graves and Deborah Winters in the Warren Chaney docudrama America: A Call to Greatness. He also appeared in the documentary That's Entertainment! III.


Rooney voiced Mr. Cherrywood in The Care Bears Movie , and starred as the Movie Mason in a Disney Channel Original Movie family film 2000's Phantom of the Megaplex. He had a guest spot on an episode of The Golden Girls as Sophia's boyfriend "Rocko", who claimed to be a bank robber. He voiced himself in the Simpsons episode "Radioactive Man" of 1995. In 1996–97, Mickey played Talbut on the TV series, Kleo The Misfit Unicorn produced by Gordon Stanfield Animation . He co-starred in Night at the Museum in 2006 with Dick Van Dyke and Ben Stiller.

After starring in one unsuccessful TV series and for turning down an offer on a huge TV series, Rooney finally hit the jackpot, at 70, when he was offering a starring role on The Family Channel's, The Adventures of the Black Stallion, where he reprised his role as Henry Dailey from the film of the same name, eleven years earlier. The show was based on a novel by Walter Farley. For this role, he had to travel all the way to Vancouver. Just like the film itself, the Black Stallion TV series, Rooney became one of the most beloved stars, that the show itself became an immediate hit with teenagers, young adults and people all over the world. The show was also seen in 70 countries. It also lost out to Harry and the Hendersons, when the show was nominated for a Young Artist Award in the "Best Off-Prime Time or Cable Family Series" category.

Also starring on Black Stallion were Docs Keepin Time who played "The Black Stallion", but did not have a voice part in the series, despite appearing in every episode of the series, with an unfamiliar Canadian high school student, a fan of Rooney's films, a voice-over actor, a future acting instructor, and online radio host, Richard Ian Cox, in the role of Henry's teenaged traveler, Alec Ramsay. The on- and off-screen chemistry between Rooney and Cox was an immediate success story of 1990s television. Richard also had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with Mickey's real-life family, when not filming. For its three seasons on air, Rooney was nominated for a Gemini Award in the category of "Best Performance by an Actor in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role", but didn't win. By the end of the third season, Black Stallion's ratings were declining, the show was cancelled in 1993, after three seasons and 78 episodes.

In December 2009 he appeared as a guest to a dinner party hosted by David Gest on the UK channel 4 show Come Dine With Me.

 Current work
Rooney appeared in television commercials for Garden State Life Insurance Company in 1999, alongside his wife Jan. In commercials shown in 2007, he can be seen in the background washing imaginary dishes.

In 2003, Mickey and Jan Rooney began their association with Rainbow Puppet Productions, providing their voices to the 100th Anniversary production of "Toyland!" an adaptation of Victor Herbert's Babes in Toyland. He created the voice for the Master Toymaker while Jan provided the voice for Mother Goose. Since that time, they have created voices for additional Rainbow Puppet Productions including "Pirate Party" which also features vocal performances by Carol Channing. Both productions continue to tour theaters across the country.

He continues to work in film and tours with his wife in a multi-media live stage production called Let's Put On a Show! His first performance of this show after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack was in Bend, Oregon, in which Mickey and Jan requested the show begin with the singing of the "Star Spangled Banner" by Jan offstage with only the American Flag visible on stage.

On May 26, 2007, he was grand marshal at the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival. Rooney made his British pantomime debut, playing Baron Hardup in Cinderella, at the Sunderland Empire Theatre over the 2007 Christmas period, a role he reprised in 2009 at the Milton Keynes theatre.

In 2008, Rooney starred as "Chief", a wise old ranch owner, in the independent family feature film Lost Stallions: The Journey Home, marking a return to starring in equestrian-themed productions for the first time since the 1990s TV show Adventures of the Black Stallion. Although they have acted together before, is the sole film to date in which he and Jan portrayed a married couple on screen.

Rooney made a brief cameo appearance in the 2011 feature film The Muppets.

 personal life
Rooney has been married eight times. In the 1950s and 1960s, he was often the subject of comedians' jokes for his alleged inability to stay married. His current marriage, to Jan Chamberlin, has lasted more than 30 years, which is longer than his previous seven marriages combined. He has 9 children from his eight marriages, as well as nineteen grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.

In 1942, he married Hollywood starlet Ava Gardner, but the two were divorced well before she became a star in her own right. While stationed in the military in Alabama in 1944, Rooney met and married local beauty queen Betty Jane Phillips. This marriage ended in divorce after he returned from Europe at the end of World War II. His subsequent marriages to Martha Vickers and Elaine Mahnken were also short-lived and ended in divorce. In 1958, Rooney married Barbara Ann Thomason, but tragedy struck when she was murdered in 1966. Falling into deep depression, he married Barbara's friend, Marge Lane, who helped him take care of his young children. The marriage lasted only 100 days. He was married to Carolyn Hockett from 1969 to 1974, but financial instability ended the relationship. Finally, in 1978, Rooney married Jan Chamberlin, his eighth wife. , they live in Westlake Village, California. Both are outspoken advocates for veterans and animal rights.

After battling drug addiction and a near bankruptcy caused by gambling and bad investments, Rooney became a born-again Christian in the 1970s, after an alleged unusual encounter with a busboy in a casino coffee shop. Rooney shared his religious beliefs on Jim and Tammy Bakker's Christian television show, The PTL Club.

Rooney's oldest child, Mickey Rooney, Jr., is a born-again Christian and has an evangelical ministry in Hemet, California. He and several of Rooney's other eight children have worked at various times in show business. One of them, actor Tim Rooney, died in 2006, aged 59.

On September 21, 2005, just days after the death of Liza Minnelli's ex-stepfather, Sid Luft, where he attended his service, Rooney celebrated his 85th birthday at the Regent Theater in Arlington, Massachusetts, where his wife appeared with him in a play titled Let's Put On A Show.

On September 23, 2010, Rooney celebrated his 90th birthday at Feinstein's at Loews Regency in the Upper East Side of New York City. Among the people who were attending the party were: Donald Trump, Regis Philbin, Nathan Lane, Tony Bennett and Jan Rooney, who threw the party for him. In December 2010 he was honored as Turner Classic Movies Star of the Month.

On February 16, 2011, Rooney was granted a temporary restraining order against Christopher Aber, one of Jan Rooney's two sons from a previous marriage. On March 2, 2011 Rooney appeared before a special US Senate committee that was considering legislation to curb elder abuse. Rooney stated that he was financially abused by an unnamed family member. On March 27, 2011, all of Rooney's finances were permanently handed over to lawyers over the claim of missing money.

In April 2011, the temporary restraining order that Rooney was previously granted was voluntarily withdrawn as a result of a confidential settlement between Rooney and his stepson. Christopher Aber and Jan Rooney have denied all the allegations.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Mickey Rooney", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.