Mickey Rooney, Hollywood legend since the early dawn of film, died Sunday at age 93 surrounded by family. Acting since he was young enough to walk, he began his career in vaudeville. Known as the original teen heart-throb, his lengthy career cast him in rolls opposite acting heavyweights like Spencer Tracy, Dean Martin, Lionel Barrymore, and Judy Garland. Rooney and Garland went on to co-star in over 10 hit films together.
One of the last surviving performers of the silent film era, Mickey Rooney went on to star in one of films first hit series, The Hardy Boys, as Andy Hardy. With a career that spanned over 80 years, he worked well into his mid-80’s. In recent years he co-stared in several Disney and Hallmark films and had cameos in films such as The Muppets and Night at the Museum staring Ben Stiller.
Joining the Army in 1944, he served for 21 months until shortly before the end of the war. Mickey Rooney served with the Entertainment Brigade for the remaining course of WWII entertaining over two million troops and earning several civil service awards. Along with his service to his country, he was also a long time activist for animal and human rights, specifically fighting for the rights of the elderly.
Longtime Hollywood playboy, Rooney married eight times, including his first high-profile marriage to Eva Gardner. His last marriage, to singer Jan Chamberlin Rooney, lasted 34 years. Mickey Rooney leaves behind nine children, 19 grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren. Rooney was preceded in death by a son, Tim, who died in 2006.
By Kimberly Beller