Monday, April 7, 2014
We All Loved Mickey Rooney
Rooney was married eight times, including to Ava Gardner from 1942 to 1943. He married Jan Chamberlain in 1978, and they consistently performed together.
“My partners weren’t what we call in horse racing parlance routers,” he told People Magazine in 1993. “They were sprinters. They went out of the gate, but then they stopped. They couldn’t go the distance.”
His final marriage lasted longer than his other seven marriages combined.
Rooney was born Sept. 23, 1920 as Joseph Yule, Jr. His parents were vaudeville actors, and he first appeared on-stage as a toddler.
During the period of 1939 to 1941, Rooney was Hollywood’s biggest box office draw.
His career languished following World War II, and Rooney was relegated to bit roles and TV spots. Those roles – such as 1954’s “The Bridges at Toko-Ri,” 1962’s “Requiem for a Heavyweight” and “The Black Stallion” in 1979 – showcased his acting chops and triggered his long second career arc.
Rooney’s later years were marred by elder abuse accusations against his stepson and stepdaughter, leading the actor to testify before Congress in 2011.
“I felt trapped, scared, used and frustrated,” he told a special Senate committee at the time. “But above all, when a man feels helpless, it’s terrible.”
Rooney’s career honors include the Academy Award, Golden Globe and Emmy. He received a “Lifetime Achievement” Academy Award in 1982.
Rooney had nine children.