By Matthew McKibben | April 7, 2014
Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney has died at the age of 93. Born Joseph Yule Jr. in 1920s Brooklyn, Rooney’s career began at an early age on stage with his vaudeville acting parents. From there, at age 6, he went on to make his first film Not to Be Trusted (1926), and thus began a decade long career with MGM making silent films.
When it comes to child stars, there’s Rooney and there’s everyone else. While modern child stars are lucky to be in 2 films a year, Rooney starred in upwards of nine movies a year, including the Depression-era Andy Hardy comedies he made with fellow child star Judy Garland.
Like a lot of child stars, he struggled to find great parts as an adult and his tabloid life seemed to overshadow his film output. He was married nine times over the course of his life, but no marriage was more notable than the one to Ava Gardner. Although he struggled to find work as an adult, he had memorable parts in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) as the wince inducing Mr. Yunioshi, had an Oscar nominated turn in Black Stallion (1979), and had a small but memorable part in Night at the Museum (2006). He also found a lot of voice work, with major parts in the television show Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town and Disney’s The Fox and the Hound.
At the time of his death, he had three movies (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Old Soldiers, Fragments from Olympus: The Vision of Nikola Tesla) in various rounds of production. The status of those movies is uncertain. He is survived by nine children, 19 grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren.