Celebrating A Life: 4YE Remembers Hollywood’s Golden Age Box Office Wonder Mickey Rooney

Image: Autograph Mag
Image: Autograph Mag

It is with a heavy heart that we announce that one of the last remaining classic film stars, Mickey Rooney, the pint-sized actor who was one of MGM’s giant box office attractions in the late ’30s and early ’40s, has passed away at the age of 93, according to sources.

Rooney was regarded as the consummate entertainer by many in the entertainment field. During a prolific and rewarding career that lasted some eight decades on both stage and screen, he was nominated for four Academy Awards and received two special Oscars, the Juvenile Award in 1939 and one in 1983 for his body of work, quite a feat in Hollywood.

The veteran actor also made appearances on a number of TV series and made for television movies. For his role in Bill, the story of a mentally challenged man, Rooney won an Emmy.

Rooney made his stage debut at age 15 months in his family’s vaudeville act, Yule and Carter, as a midget in a tuxedo. After his parent’s divorce, his mother Nell answered an ad placed by cartoonist Fontaine Fox, who was looking for a child actor to play the comicstrip character Mickey McGuire in a series of silent comedy shorts. The rest is history.

As a teenager, Rooney appeared in many popular films but it was A Family Affair, a B-movie adaptation of the minor Broadway play Skidding, that made him a star. As star of one of the most successful studios in film history, Rooney was earning $150,000 a year before his 20th birthday. In 1939, he was voted a special Oscar by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences.

Success continued to find him as the following year he was nominated for best actor in the film musical version of Babes in Arms with Judy Garland. Rooney would continue to find some success as a teenager but it was quite hard for him to get away from the child that Hollywood loved him for.

In his later years, Rooney continued to work hard and sometimes found notable success. He received an Oscar nomination for supporting actor in 1980 for The Black Stallion. He won an Emmy for Bill in 1982 and drew an Emmy nom for reprising the role in another CBS telepic two years later.

Rooney made an appearance most recently in 2006 in Night at the Museum and in 2011 in The Muppets feature, among several other films.

Mickey Rooney is survived by wife Jan Chamberlin, a singer he married in 1978; son Mickey Rooney Jr. from his marriage to singer Betty Jane Rase; son Theodore Michael Rooney from his marriage to actress Martha Vickers; daughters Kelly Ann Rooney, Kerry Rooney and Kimmy Sue Rooney and son Michael Joseph Rooney from his marriage to Barbara Ann Thomason; and daughter Jonelle Rooney and adopted son Jimmy Rooney from his marriage to Carolyn Hockett.

Our hearts go out to his loved ones at this time. So long, Mickey Rooney, and thanks for the memories.

Erika Negrón Rivera
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