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AKIPRESS.COM - Mickey Rooney, who became one of the world’s biggest movie stars while still in his teens before going on to lead a career that spanned many decades, died on Sunday at the age of 93, France24 reported.
Rooney, who had a reputation for being louder than life, died after a long illness.
“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.
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 roles.
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 Hardy.
He took small parts, worked in lesser movies and tried a couple of television shows. He picked up two more Oscar nominations for 1956’s “The Bold and the Brave” and “The Black Stallion” in 1979.
In 1979 he also broke through on Broadway, harkening back to his vaudeville beginnings with “Sugar Babies,” a burlesque-style revue with MGM tap dancer Ann Miller in which he sang, danced and dressed in drag. He said the role saved him from being “a famous has-been.”
Rooney won an Emmy and a Golden Globe in 1982 for the TV movie “Bill,” playing a mentally handicapped man trying to live on his own. He was given an lifetime achievement Oscar in 1983.
Rooney had five sons and five daughters.