Mickey Rooney

Right up to the end, Mickey Rooney was unstoppable,

 

its a sad goodbye to one of the most loved movie and stage star. Mickey aged 92 died April 6 2014, his death was due to natural causes.

 

Mickey Rooney

Both of his parents were in vaudeville, appearing in a Brooklyn production of A Gaiety Girl when Joseph, Jr. was born. His father, Joe Yule , was from Scotland, and his mother, Nellie was from Kansas City, Missouri. . He began performing at the age of 17 months as part of his parents’ routine, wearing a specially tailored tuxedo. Mickey’s mother was reading the entertainment newspaper , Nellie was interested in getting Hal Roach to approach her son 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 established film stars such as Joel McCrea, Colleen Moore, Clark Gable, 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 Judy Garland and Lana Turner, among many others, and later Hollywood High School, where he graduated in 1938.

 

Mickey always said that Judy Garland was in his heart forever and he treasured her love more than anyone else in his life. They appeared in many films together, but most people would remember the Andy Hardy movies. According to author Barry Monush, MGM wanted the Andy Hardy films to appeal to all family members. Rooney’s character would portray a typical “anxious, hyperactive, girl-crazy teenager,” and he soon became the unintended main star of the films. Although some critics describe the series of films as “sweet, overly idealized, and pretty much interchangeable,” their ultimate success was because they gave viewers a “comforting portrait of small-town America that seemed suited for the times,” with Rooney instilling “a lasting image of what every parent wished their teen could be like.”

In 1937, Rooney made his first film alongside Judy Garland with Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry. Garland and Rooney became close friends as they co-starred in future films and became a successful song-and-dance team. Audiences delighted in seeing the “playful interactions between the two stars showcase a wonderful chemistry.”Along with three of the Andy Hardy films, where she portrayed a girl with a crush on Andy, they appeared together in a string of successful musicals, including the Oscar-nominated Babes in Arms (1939). During an interview in the 1992 documentary film MGM: When the Lion Roars, Rooney describes their friendship.

The popularity of his films made Rooney the biggest box-office draw in 1939, 1940 and 1941. For their roles in Boys Town, Rooney and Tracy won first and second place in the Motion Picture Herald 1940 National Poll of Exhibitors, based on the box office appeal of 200 players. Boys’ Life magazine wrote, “Congratulations to Messrs. Rooney and Tracy! Also to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer we extend a hearty thanks for their very considerable part in this outstanding achievement.” Actor Laurence Olivier once called Rooney “the greatest actor of them all.”

A major star in the early 1940s, he appeared on the cover of Time magazine in 1940, timed to coincide with the release of Young Tom Edison; the cover story began:
Hollywood’s No. 1 box office bait in 1939 was not Clark Gable, Errol Flynn or Tyrone Power, but a rope-haired, kazoo-voiced kid with a comic-strip face, who until this week had never appeared in a picture without mugging or overacting it. His name (assumed) was Mickey Rooney, and to a large part of the more articulate U.S. cinema audience, his name was becoming a frequently used synonym for brat.

During his long career, Rooney also worked with many of the silver screen’s greatest leading ladies, including Elizabeth Taylor in “National Velvet” and Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast At Tiffany’s.” In 1991, Rooney was honored by the Young Artist Foundation with its Former Child Star “Lifetime Achievement” Award recognizing his achievements within the film industry as a child actor. After presenting the award to Rooney, the foundation subsequently renamed the accolade “The Mickey Rooney Award” in his honour.

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In 1944, Rooney enlisted in the United States Army. 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 II Victory Medal for his military service.

His first television series, The Mickey Rooney Show: Hey, Mulligan (created by Blake Edwards with Rooney as his own producer), appeared on NBC television for 32 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, loosely based on Red Buttons, 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.

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…”

Mickey on Broadway

The Will Rogers Follies
[Musical, Original]

  • Performer: Mickey Rooney

 

May 01, 1991 – Sep 05, 1993
Sugar Babies
[Musical, Revue, Comedy, Burlesque, Original]

  • Starring: Mickey Rooney [Mickey]
Oct 08, 1979 – Aug 28, 1982

 

In 2003, Rooney and his wife 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.

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 at Bristol Hippodrome in 2008 and at the Milton Keynes theatre in 2009.

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. Even though they acted together before, Lost Stallions: The Journey Home was the sole film in which Rooney and Jan portrayed a married couple on screen.

In December 2009, he appeared as a guest at a dinner-party hosted by David Gest on Come Dine With Me.

In 2011, Rooney made a brief cameo appearance in The Muppets and appeared in an episode of Celebrity Ghost Stories, recounting how, during a down period in his career, his deceased father appeared to him one night, telling him not to give up on his career. He claimed that the experience bolstered his resolve and soon afterwards his career experienced a resurgence. In 2014, Rooney returned to film scenes to reprise his role as “Gus” in Night at the Museum 3. It is currently unknown whether he completed his scenes and whether his death will affect the film’s production.

Rooney was married eight times. In the 1950s and 1960s, he was often the subject of comedians’ jokes for his alleged inability to stay married. At the time of his death, he was married to Jan Chamberlin, although they were then separated. He had a total of nine children, as well as 19 grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.

Marriages

Wife Years Children
Ava Gardner 1942–1943
Betty Jane Rase 1944–1949 Mickey Rooney, Jr. (born July 3, 1945)
Tim Rooney (January 4, 1947 – September 23, 2006)
Martha Vickers 1949–1951 Theodore Michael Rooney (born April 13, 1950)
Elaine Devry 1952–1958
Barbara Ann Thomason
(a.k.a.: Tara Thomas, Carolyn Mitchell)
1958–1966 Kelly Ann Rooney (born September 13, 1959)
Kerry Rooney (born December 30, 1960)
Michael Joseph Rooney (born April 2, 1962)
Kimmy Sue Rooney (born September 13, 1963)
Marge Lane 1966–1967
Carolyn Hockett 1969–1975 Jimmy Rooney (adopted from Carolyn’s previous marriage) (born in 1966)
Jonelle Rooney (born January 11, 1970)
Jan Chamberlin 1978–2014 (Separated May 2013)

 

During his peak years from the late 1930s to the early 1940s, Rooney was among the top box-office stars in the United States. His success was due not only to the versatility of his acting, but to being co-starred with other great actors of the time, including Judy Garland, Wallace Beery and Spencer Tracy. Between the age of 15 and 25 he made forty-three pictures. Among those, his role as Andy Hardy became one of “Hollywood’s best-loved characters,” with Marlon Brando calling him “the best actor in films.” For his acting the part in fifteen Andy Hardy films, he received an honorary Oscar in 1938 for “bringing to the screen the spirit and personification of youth” and for “setting a high standard of ability and achievement.”

Rooney became an MGM standard, a success vehicle noted for his ability to act, sing, dance, clown, and play various musical instruments, most of which he did with apparent ease and raw talent. “There was nothing he couldn’t do,” said actress Margaret O’Brien. MGM boss Louis B. Mayer treated him like a son and saw in Rooney “the embodiment of the amiable American boy who stands for family, humbug, and sentiment,” writes critic and author, David Thomson. By the time Rooney was 20, his consistent portrayals of characters with youth and energy suggested that his future success was unlimited. Thomson also explains that Rooney’s characters were able to cover a wide range of emotional types, and gives three examples where “Rooney is not just an actor of genius, but an artist able to maintain a stylized commentary on the demon impulse of the small, belligerent man:”

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