American actor Mickey Rooney was born Joseph Yule Jr. on September 23, 1920, and passed away on April 6, 2014. He was one of the last silent-film stars still alive, having featured in more than 300 movies over the course of a nine-decade career. He was one of the highest-paid actors of the time and the top box office draw from 1939 to 1941. Rooney portrayed the character of Andy Hardy in a run of 16 films in the 1930s and 1940s that embodied the self-image of mainstream America at the height of a career punctuated by declines and comebacks.
The sole child of Nellie W. Carter and Joe Yule, Rooney was born Joseph Yule Jr. in the Brooklyn neighborhood of New York City on September 23, 1920.
His father was a Scottish-born vaudevillian who had immigrated to New York from Glasgow with his family when he was just three months old. His mother was an American former chorus girl and burlesque performer from Kansas City, Missouri. They resided in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint district.
His parents were performing together in a Brooklyn production of A Gaiety Girl when Rooney was born. Later, in his memoirs, he recalled how, while sporting a custom-designed tuxedo, he started performing at the age of 17 months as a part of his parents’ routine.
Mickey Rooney’s Net Worth:
At the time of his passing in 2014, Rooney was a comedian, radio host, and actor in movies and plays. His net worth was $20,000. Over the course of a nine-decade career, Mickey Rooney appeared in over 300 films. He began acting as a child in vaudeville, and as a teenager, he started playing the well-known role of Andy Hardy in a number of MGM movies.
In addition to “Boys Town,” “Babes in Arms,” “Young Tom Edison,” and “Strike Up the Band,” Rooney also starred in later critically regarded films like “National Velvet” and “The Black Stallion.” Between 1939 and 1941, he was the top box office draw. Mickey established an exceptionally prosperous career that resulted in scores of more honors, including an Emmy and an Academy Award.
Career Beginnings as A Child Actor
When Rooney was four years old, his parents divorced. The following year, he and his mother relocated to Hollywood. In the 1926 short film Not to be Trusted, he made his debut at the age of six.
Rooney was able to collaborate with actors like Joel McCrea, Colleen Moore, Clark Gable, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., John Wayne, and Jean Harlow thanks to little roles he landed in movies like The Beast of the City (1932) and The Life of Jimmy Dolan (1933). He attended Fairfax High School after enrolling in the Hollywood Professional School.
His mother came upon an ad looking for a youngster to portray “Mickey McGuire” in a number of short films.
 Rooney was cast in the part and played “Mickey” for 78 of the movies, which were released between 1927 and 1936, beginning with Mickey’s Circus (1927), his first leading performance. [a] [b] He also provided a quick Oswald the Lucky Rabbit voice for Walter Lantz Productions around this time. In his teen years, he also produced a number of more McGuire movies. He appeared as Puck in the 1935 Warner Bros. production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the age of 14. David Thomson, a critic, praised his performance as “one of the most stunning acts of enchantment in cinema.” Rooney next relocated to MGM, where he met Judy Garland and started working with her on a number of musicals that helped both of them become household names.
Andy Hardy films and Hollywood stardom
Judy Garland and Rooney in Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938)Rooney was chosen to play Andy Hardy in A Family Affair, a 1937 B-movie that MGM had intended to be. As the son of Judge James K. Hardy, who was portrayed by Lionel Barrymore, Rooney offered comedic relief (although former silent-film leading man Lewis Stone played the role of Judge Hardy in subsequent pictures).
The movie was an unexpected hit, and as a result, Andy Hardy made 13 additional movies between 1937 and 1946 until making his last movie in 1958. Barry Monash, an author, claims that MGM wanted the Andy Hardy movies to be enjoyed by the entire family. As a typical “anxious, hyperactive, girl-crazy teenager,” Rooney’s character quickly established himself as the accidental leader of the movie.
The series’ success was due to the fact that it gave viewers a “comforting portrait of small-town America that seemed suited for the times,” with Rooney creating “a lasting image of what every parent wished their teen could be like,” despite the fact that some critics have called the movies “sweet, overly idealized, and pretty much interchangeable.”
Military Service and Later Film Career
Rooney amuses American soldiers in Germany in April 1945.
Tom Poston (right) and Rooney in the 1940s
Rooney provides food for the military for the USO in 1952.
Rooney joined the US Army in June 1944 and performed Special Services for the troops in America and Europe for more than 21 months (until just before the conclusion of World War II). He was given the Bronze Star Medal for entertaining troops in battle zones while working part-time as a radio host on the American Forces Network. Rooney was awarded the Bronze Star for his service in the military, as well as the Army Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, and World War II Victory Medal. [Source: self-published]
Rooney’s career suffered after he returned to the workforce. He could no longer play the part of an adolescent because he was an adult and only stood at 5 feet 2 inches (1.57 m), down from 5 feet 1 inch (1.55 m) when he registered for the draught in 1942, but he also lacked the height of most leading males.
He starred in the 1948 movie Words and Music alongside Judy Garland, which was their final on-screen collaboration (he appeared with her on one episode as a guest on The Judy Garland Show). In the summer of 1948, he appeared for a short time on the CBS radio program Shorty Bell. In 1949 and 1950, he returned to The Hardy Family as Andy Hardy alongside the majority of the original ensemble in syndicated radio production (which was rebroadcast on Mutual throughout this time).
Rooney married eight times in his lifetime. Actress Ava Gardner was the subject of his first marriage, which ended in divorce the following year. Rooney married Betty Jane Phillips in 1944 after they had met while he was stationed in Alabama. After World War II, they got divorced and had two boys. Rooney then wed Martha Vickers, a fellow actress, in 1949.
They got divorced in 1951 and had one son. From 1952 through 1958, the fourth marriage—to actress Elaine Mahnken—lasted. Rooney later wed Barbara Ann Thomason, an actress, and model. Milos Milos, a stuntman with whom Thomason had been having an affair, killed Thomason in 1966 when Rooney was filming “Ambush Bay” in the Philippines. Milos Milos also committed suicide.
After that, Rooney wed Marge Lane, Thomason’s close friend, in a union that lasted just 100 days. From 1969 to 1975, he was then engaged to Carolyn Hockett. Finally, he married Jan Chamberlin, who was his eighth wife, in 1978. Despite divorcing in 2012, they remained married until Rooney’s death in 2014. Rooney has a total of nine biological children, two adopted children, 19 grandchildren, and a large number of great-grandchildren.