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Mickey Rooney

Mickey Rooney

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Also Known As: Mickey Mcguire,Joseph Yule Jr.,Mickey Mcguire Died: April 6, 2014
Born: September 23, 1920 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York, USA Profession: Cast ... actor musician singer
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BIOGRAPHY

to do with the show's cancellation after 39 episodes. Still, it had to be more satisfying work than starring opposite Francis the Talking Mule in "Francis in the Haunted House" (1956). With live television attracting some of the best young directors and writers, Rooney kept returning to the small screen. He scored an artistic triumph and an Emmy nomination in "The Comedian" (1957), an episode of the famous series "Playhouse 90" (CBS, 1956-1961). The late 1950s were the Golden Age of live TV and it gave Rooney's career a shot in the arm. He continued to work on TV shows like "Alcoa Theater" (NBC, 1957-1960) while landing the occasional film role. He was a natural fit for the film "Baby Face Nelson" (1957), playing a murderous gangster who looks like a choirboy and he (mercifully) put the Andy Hardy series to rest with the feature "Andy Hardy Comes Home" (1958). Finally, in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (1961) he found a role he could sink his teeth into. Unfortunately, they were a set of fake buckteeth that set off the biggest controversy of his career. Blake Edwards, who had worked on Rooney's TV show as a writer, directed "Breakfast at Tiffany's," an adaptation of Truman Capote's novel. The director and actor were close friends, and perhaps this influenced Edwards not reigning in Rooney's broad performance of a stereotypical, bucktoothed Japanese man. Rooney's overacting marred an otherwise popular and well-reviewed film, but his sub-par work was the least of his problems.

Rooney's latest marriage ¿ his fifth ¿ was falling apart during this period. He had married the beauty queen and B-movie actress, Barbara Ann Thomason (a.k.a Carolyn Mitchell), in 1958. While Thomason had put her career on hold to raise the kids, Rooney worked non-stop to support his ex-wives, his gambling habit, and a growing family. He tried directing, but the dismal comedy "The Private Lives of Adam and Eve" (1960) should have stayed private. Hack TV work kept the money rolling in, and there was a cinematic bright spot with his supporting turn in the drama "Requiem for a Heavyweight" (1962), but lightweight fluff like "How to Stuff a Wild Bikini" (1965) was more representative of Rooney's output at the time. Now in his forties, he nevertheless continued his extra-marital affairs; a favor returned by his young wife. When Rooney was in the Philippines filming the war movie "Ambush Bay," he was literally ambushed by tragic news: Thomason's jealous lover had murdered her in the Rooney's Brentwood home. Rooney returned to the states and a cauldron of controversy. The sordid and dysfunctional personal life of the man who had played the all-American boy became fodder for the tabloids and permanently tarnished Rooney's image. He continued plugging away in mediocre movies like "Skidoo" (1968) in an attempt to keep the demons at bay, but Judy Garland's death from an accidental overdose of barbiturates in 1969 was an even worse punishment.

Nearing fifty and rocked by personal tragedy and professional disappointment, it would have been easy for Rooney to pack it in. But Rooney's vaudeville training had instilled in him a powerful ethos that "the show must go on." He kept working throughout the 1970s, seemingly in any production that would pay him. Wary of more controversy, he passed up the role of the racist Archie Bunker in the TV classic "All in the Family" (CBS, 1971-79); instead turning to family friendly fare like "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" (ABC, 1970), "The Year Without a Santa Claus" (ABC, 1974), and "Journey Back to Oz" (1974). An inveterate gambler and horse racing aficionado, his love of the ponies found artistic triumph in the film classic "The Black Stallion" (1979). Rooney turned in one of his great performances playing Henry Dailey, a once successful horse trainer who gets one last shot at immortality. Rooney received some of the best reviews of his career for a role that was a metaphor for his own creative resurrection.

Rooney followed up his Academy Award-nominated performance in "The Black Stallion" with a starring role opposite dancer Ann Miller in the long running Broadway hit "Sugar Babies" (1970-1982). Earning a Tony nomination for his stage work, he scored again with an Emmy win playing a mentally handicapped man in the TV drama "Bill" (CBS, 1981). It was the high-water mark of Rooney's career: film, stage, and TV work of the highest quality all within a couple years and late in the game. And while he did not hit such a hot streak again, Rooney had proven to his loyal fans and vocal detractors that he still had the goods. He continued working steadily on TV and in movies such as "Night at the Museum" (2006), as well as the theater. He even traveled the world in a multi-media live stage production called "Let's Put on a Show!" recounting his long, eventful life in show business to his still sizable fan base.

In 2011, Rooney accused his stepson Chris Aber of committing elder abuse against him, including acts of financial malfeasance; Rooney's eighth wife and Aber's mother, Jan Rooney, denied the allegations. Rooney testified about elder abuse before a Senate committee in March 2011 and won a multi-million dollar settlement against Aber. That same year, Rooney made his final feature film appearance with a cameo role in Jason Segel's hit franchise reboot "The Muppets" (2011). Rooney died of undisclosed natural causes on April 6, 2014.on kids, let's put on a show!" variety.

But Rooney's popularity was not contingent upon Garland, who shot to worldwide fame playing Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz" (1939). Rather, his appeal came from his infectious energy and innate fearlessness as an actor. Whether sharing the screen with giants like Spencer Tracy and Lionel Barrymore in "Captains Courageous" (1937), and again with Tracy in "Boys Town" (1938) ¿ for which Tracy received an Academy Award ¿ Rooney more than held his own. And, of course, the public adored him. From 1939 through 1941, Rooney was the number one box office actor in the United States, as he would proudly continue to remind the world even years later. As America entered World War II, his Andy Hardy films continued to be wildly popular and Rooney worked steadily. He somehow found the time to marry and divorce the gorgeous starlet Ava Gardner (the future Mrs. Frank Sinatra) between 1942 and 1943 before hitting his professional peak opposite Elizabeth Taylor in the horse racing drama, "National Velvet" (1944). But when Rooney was drafted into the military, everything changed.

During WWII, Rooney went to war to entertain the troops, only serving 21 months. But while he did not suffer any physical harm while abroad, when he came home his career was damaged. Post-war America was less innocent than the one that had embraced Andy Hardy. Moreover, Rooney was now 26 years old and thus, a little too long in the tooth to continue playing teenagers. His professional life started a long, slow slide. While he was never at a loss for work, the quality of the material was inferior to his earlier films. To make matters worse his onscreen partnership with Judy Garland came to a close with the musical "Words and Music" (1948). Rooney gamely soldiered on, while his former co-star's career eclipsed his. Not only because he loved to work but also because he had to. He fit in a few more failed marriages, including one to actress Martha Vickers, while trying to find good parts to pay his alimony. There were bright spots like the Korean War drama "The Bridges at Toko-Ri" (1954), but more often than not Rooney did whatever slop he was offered, including "The Fireball" (1950) and "The Atomic Kid" (1954). Like many movie stars before him whose stars were starting to fade, he turned to television.

"The Mickey Rooney Show" (NBC, 1954-55) ¿ also known as "Hey, Mulligan" ¿ featured Rooney playing a fast-talking teenager. The fact that Rooney, in his mid-30s, was essentially reprising his Andy Hardy character may have had something

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