Monday, April 7, 2014

Actor Mickey Rooney, brash star of 1930s and 40s dies at 93 (Reuters)

(Reuters) - Actor Mickey Rooney,
who became the United States'
biggest movie star while still a
brash teenager in the 1930s and
later a versatile character actor
in a career that spanned 10
decades, died on Sunday, friends
and entertainment media said.
He was 93.
Rooney, who developed a
reputation as a hard-partying,
off-screen brat in his heyday and
married eight times, died after a
long illness, the TMZ celebrity
website said. Show business
website Variety also reported his

TMZ and Variety did not give a
cause of death or say where
Rooney died. A spokesman was
not immediately available for
"He was undoubtedly the most
talented actor that ever lived.
There was nothing he couldn't
do," actress Margaret O'Brien
said in a statement.

She said she had worked
recently with Rooney on a film,
"The Strange Case of Dr Jeckyll
and Mr Hyde," and he "was as
great as ever" during the filming.
Actress Rose Marie, a long-time
friend, said he was one of the
greatest talents show business
had ever had. "I shall miss him
and the world shall miss him,"
she said in a statement.

Rooney was an entertainer
almost from the day he was
born in New York on September
23, 1920. His parents, Joe Yule
Sr. and Nell, had a vaudeville act
and Joe Jr., as he was known
then, was not yet 2 years old
when he became a part of it,
appearing in a miniature tuxedo.
As he grew older, Rooney added
dancing and joke-telling to his
stage repertoire before landing
his first film role - a cigar-
smoking little person in the
silent short "Not to Be Trusted."

After his parents split, Rooney
and his mother moved to
California where she steered him
into a movie career. He was
about 7 when he was cast as
the title character in the "Mickey
McGuire" series of film shorts
that ran from 1927 to 1934. Nell
even had his name changed to
Mickey McGuire before changing
the last name again to Rooney
when he began getting other

As a teenager, Rooney was cute,
diminutive (he topped out at 5
feet 2 inches and bursting with
hammy energy. Those attributes
served him well when he was
cast as the wide-eyed, wise-
cracking Andy Hardy in a series
of films that would give movie-
goers a brief opportunity to
forget the lingering woes of the
Great Depression in the late

The first "Andy Hardy" film, "A
Family Affair" in 1937, became a
surprise hit and led to a series of
16, with Rooney's character
becoming the main focus and
helping make him the biggest
box-office attraction of 1939
and 1940. The Hardy films were
wholesome, sentimental
comedies in which Andy would
often learn a valuable lesson
from his wise father, Judge

In 1938, Rooney and Deanna
Durbin received miniature
Academy Awards for juveniles.
"Call him cocky and brash but he
has the sort of exuberant talent
that keeps your eyes on the
screen," the New York Times
said of Rooney in a 1940 review.
It was in "Love Finds Andy
Hardy" that he first worked with
Judy Garland, who was on the
verge of superstardom herself
with "The Wizard of Oz."

They made two more Hardy
movies together and in 1939
were cast together in "Babes in
Arms," a Busby Berkeley musical
about two struggling young
entertainers that earned Rooney,
then 19, an Academy Award
Movie-goers loved the lively "let's
put on a show!" chemistry that
Rooney and Garland brought to
the screen. They were paired
again in "Girl Crazy" in 1943.

"We weren't just a team, we
were magic," Rooney said in a
stage show about his life.
Rooney proved he could handle
serious roles, too, with a notable
performance in 1938 in "Boys
Town" as a troubled kid helped
out by a kindly priest played by
Spencer Tracy.
He picked up another Oscar
nomination for "The Human
Comedy" in 1943 and starred
with Elizabeth Taylor in "National
Velvet" in 1944.
Off the screen, the young
Rooney was the Justin Bieber of
his time. His fame, money,
gambling, lust and mercurial
nature were problems for the
MGM studio, which did not like
seeing its young star sully his
reputation and box-office

The studio assigned a full-time
staffer to keep Rooney out of
trouble but his antics still
frequently ended up in gossip
columns. MGM was greatly upset
when Rooney, 21, married Ava
Gardner, then a 19-year-old
aspiring actress, in 1942. The
marriage lasted barely a year.
From 1939 to 1941 Rooney had
ranked as the top U.S. male box-
office attraction. After he
returned from serving the
military as an entertaine

Reference: by Bill Trott on Yahoo News

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