The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Mickey Rooney

Joe Yule, Jr. (born September 23, 1920), better known as Mickey Rooney, is an American film actor.

Born into a vaudeville family, Rooney began performing at the age of 17 months.

Entering the movie business in 1927, he literally made his name as the title character in the Mickey McGuire shorts. These were a series of over forty silent, two-reel comedies adapted from the Toonerville Trolley comic strip, in which he starred through 1936. For a time he billed himself as Mickey McGuire, but legally changed his name to Mickey Rooney in 1932. Also during this period he met Walt Disney, and later he would claim Disney had named Mickey Mouse after him.

In 1934 he signed to MGM and was educated at the studio's School for Professional Children.

Rooney's successful role as Andy Hardy in A Family Affair (1937) led to fourteen further films featuring that character from 1938 to 1958. His first role as the top-billed star in a feature film was as Shockey Carter in Hoosier Schoolboy (1937) with Edward Pawley playing his father. His fame peaked in World War II with a string of successful musicals with Judy Garland, including the Oscar nominated Babes in Arms (1939) as well as more serious roles in films such as The Human Comedy (1943) and National Velvet (1944).

In 1944 Rooney entered military service for 21 months; after his return his career slumped. He appeared in a number of indifferent films, including Words and Music in 1948 which paired him for the last time with Garland, and one final Andy Hardy film in the late 1950s. The Mickey Rooney Show, also known as Hey Mulligan, appeared on NBC for 39 episodes during 1954 and 1955. In the 1960s Rooney returned to theatrical entertainment. He still accepted film roles in undistinguished movies, but occasionally he would appear in better works such as Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962) and The Black Stallion (1979).

He was awarded an Academy Juvenile Award in 1938, and in 1983 the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences voted him their Academy Honorary Award for his lifetime of achievement.

He continued to be busy in stage and television work through the 1980s and 1990s, appearing in the acclaimed stage play Sugar Babies with Ann Miller beginning in 1979, starring in a long-running TV series based on The Black Stallion, touring Canada in a dinner theatre production of The Mind with the Naughty Man in the mid-1990s, and playing The Wizard in a stage production of The Wizard of Oz with Eartha Kitt. He also appeared in the documentary That's Entertainment III.

He was married and divorced seven times (including to actresses Ava Gardner and Martha Vickers ) before marrying his current wife, January Chamberlin, in 1978. He has five sons and four daughters.

In January 2005, Rooney made headlines again, starring in a commercial that was barred as "indecent" from its scheduled slot during Super Bowl XXXIX. The ad included a comic turn that saw Rooney's backside briefly exposed. The pulling of the ad is considered more fallout from Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" a year earlier.

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Last updated: 08-25-2005 19:10:55