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Mickey Rooney, Film Legend

Full Name Mickey Rooney
Birthday September 23, 1920
Death Date April 6, 2014
Birth Sign Libra
Born Brooklyn, NY, United States
Height 5‘2"
Net Worth $20K
Social Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Mickey Rooney was an iconic actor known for his immense talent and 300+ film roles over the course of 9 legendary decades in Hollywood. With his signature charisma and energetic spirit, Rooney became one of the most beloved stars of Hollywood‘s Golden Age.

Biography and Extensive Career

Born Joe Yule Jr. in 1920 in Brooklyn, Mickey got his start in showbiz as a toddler, joining his family‘s vaudeville act at just 15 months old. By the late 1920s, he had moved to Hollywood and adopted the stage name Mickey Rooney.

Rooney signed with MGM as a teenager and catapulted to stardom as Andy Hardy in the popular film series, appearing in a total of 15 Andy Hardy movies. Just 19 years old, Rooney became the first teenager ever nominated for an Oscar for 1939‘s Babes in Arms.

Other major career highlights include his first leading role in the 1937 film A Family Affair, which launched the Andy Hardy series; his Academy Juvenile Award win in 1939; and starring roles in musicals like Girl Crazy (1943) opposite Judy Garland.

By the 1960s and 70s, Rooney took on more character actor roles in films like It‘s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) and The Black Stallion (1979). He had a career resurgence in the late 1970s on Broadway, earning a Tony nomination for Sugar Babies.

In all, the legendary actor amassed over 300 film and TV credits over 91 illustrious years in show business. As Rooney himself once said, "Always get back up on that horse, and ride into the sunset again." And ride he did.

Why Mickey Rooney Was So Loved

Mickey Rooney possessed a unique star quality and charm that made him one of the most adored actors of his era. Let‘s look at some of the qualities that made him so loved:

Comedic Genius

Rooney was a master of comedic timing and physical humor. As film critic A.O. Scott noted, "He could sing, dance, mug, pantomime, impersonate and make you laugh even when laughing wasn’t dignified or appropriate." He lit up the screen in comic roles.

Boundless Energy and Charisma

The bounce in Rooney‘s step and sparkle in his eye were contagious. His charisma jumped off the screen. As biographer Arthur Marx put it, "Rooney generated more raw energy than a roomful of power plants."

Dramatic Depth as an Actor

While known for his comedic skills, Rooney also delivered moving dramatic performances. From Boys Town (1938) to The Black Stallion (1979), Rooney proved he could bring nuance and heart to complex roles.

An Icon of Hollywood‘s Glory Days

Rooney represented the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema. He worked alongside legends like Garland, Kelly, and Taylor and epitomized the glamour of the era.

Timeless Appeal

From child star to wise elder, Rooney maintained his charm throughout his 91 years. As Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz said, Rooney‘s youthful spirit "shines through in every one of his performances."

Interesting Facts about Mickey Rooney

  • His birth name was Joe Yule Jr. – he created the stage name Mickey Rooney in 1932.
  • Became the top box office star from 1939 to 1941 after success of Andy Hardy films.
  • Was married 8 times; his marriage to starlet Ava Gardner in the 1940s was stormy and short-lived.
  • His role as Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany‘s (1961) would be considered offensive by today‘s standards.
  • Appeared alongside Judy Garland in several beloved musicals like Babes in Arms (1939).
  • Won an Emmy Award and Golden Globe in 1982 for Bill.
  • Was one of the last surviving stars of the silent film era, having started in the 1920s.
  • Was inducted into the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in 2022 as a Hollywood legend.

Mickey Rooney‘s Legacy

Very few performers have reached the legendary status of Mickey Rooney. The breadth of his work, his creativity, and his charisma left a lasting imprint on American film history.

Rooney showed exceptional talent not just for comedy, but drama as well. As critic Michael Phillips wrote in the Chicago Tribune, "No entertainer evolved longer or more rewardingly than Mickey Rooney — he never stopped growing as a performer."

As biographer Gary Fishgall put it, Rooney‘s "uncanny ability to be at turns sweetly innocent, manically hyperkinetic, deeply moving, and quietly wise made him a one-of-a-kind enigmatic screen giant."

Mickey Rooney embodied the Golden Age of Hollywood. Though the world lost him in 2014 at age 93, the body of work he left behind immortalizes him as a beloved icon of 20th century cinema. As Rooney always used to say, "The show must go on."