Nationality: American. Born: Joe Yule Jr., in Brooklyn, New York, 23 September 1920. Education: Attended Dayton Heights and Vine Street elementary schools and Fairfax High School, Hollywood; Pacific Military Academy, Culver City, California; also attended a studio school at MGM. Military Service: U.S. Army, 1944–46. Family: Married 1) the actress Ava Gardner, 1942 (divorced 1943); 2) Betty Jane Rase, 1944 (divorced 1949), sons: Mickey Jr. and Timothy; 3) the actress Martha Vickers, 1949 (divorced 1951), son: Teddy; 4) Elaine Mahnken, 1951 (divorced 1958); 5) Barbara Ann Thomasen, 1958 (divorced), sons: Kerry and Kyle, daughters: Kelly Ann and Kimmy Sue; 6) Margie Lang, 1966 (divorced 1967); 7) Carolyn Hocket (divorced), two children; 8) the singer Jan Chamberlain, 1978. Career: Stage debut in his parents' vaudeville act at age 15 months as a midget; 1926—film debut as a midget in Not to Be Trusted ; 1927–34—in series of short films about Mickey McGuire; 1937—first of the Andy Hardy films, A Family Affair ; 1951—directed the film My True Story ; 1963—in summer stock in the play The Tunnel of Love ; 1964–65—in TV series Mickey , and a regular in TV series NBC Follies , 1973; 1964—toured nightclub circuit with dancer Bobby Van; has since toured in other plays; 1979—in theatrical revue Sugar Babies with Ann Miller, first in Los Angeles, then in long Broadway run, and touring (until 1985); 1992–94—in TV series The Black Stallion . Awards: Special Academy Award (with Deanna Durbin), "for their significant contribution in bringing to the screen the spirit and personification of youth and as juvenile players setting a high standard of ability and achievement," 1938; Best Actor César Award (France), for Baby Face Nelson , 1957; Special Academy Award, "in recognition of his 60 years of versatility in a variety of memorable film performances," 1982. Address: 7500 Devista Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90046, U.S.A.
Not to Be Trusted (Buckingham—short)
Orchids and Ermine (Santell)
Emma (Brown); The Beast of the City (Brabin) (as Mickey Fitzpatrick); Sin's Pay Day (Seitz) (as Mickey McGuire); High Speed (Lederman) (as Mickey McGuire); Officer 13 (Melford); Fast Companions ( The Information Kid ) (Neumann) (as Midge); My Pal, the King (Neumann) (as King Charles V)
The Big Cage (Neumann) (as Jimmy); The Life of Jimmy Dolan ( The Kid's Last Flight ) (Mayo) (as Freckles); The
Beloved (Schertzinger); I Like It that Way (Lachman) (as messenger boy); Love Birds (Seiter) (as Gladwyn Tootle); Half a Sinner (Neumann) (as Willie); The Lost Jungle (Schaefer and David Howard) (as Mickey); Manhattan Melodrama (Van Dyke) (as Blackie as a boy); Upperworld (Del Ruth) (as Jerry); The Hide-Out (Van Dyke) (as Willie); Chained (Brown) (as boy swimmer); Blind Date (Neill) (as Freddy); Death on the Diamond (Sedgwick) (as Mickey)
The County Chairman (Blystone) (as Freckles); Reckless (Fleming); The Healer ( Little Pal ) (Barker); A Midsummer Night's Dream (Dieterle) (as Puck); Ah, Wilderness (Brown) (as Tommy Miller); Riffraff (Ruben)
Little Lord Fauntleroy (Cromwell) (as Dick); The Devil Is a Sissy ( The Devil Takes the Count ) (Van Dyke) (as "Gig" Stevens); Down the Stretch (Clemens) (as Snapper Sinclair)
Captains Courageous (Fleming) (as Dan); Slave Ship (Garnell) (as Swifty); A Family Affair (Seitz) (as Andy Hardy); Hoosier Schoolboy (Nigh) (as Shockey); Live, Love, and Learn (Fitzmaurice) (as Jerry Crump); Thoroughbreds Don't Cry (Alred E. Green) (as Tim Donahue)
Out West with the Hardys (Seitz) (as Andy Hardy); You're Only Young Once (Seitz) (as Andy Hardy); Love Is a Headache (Thorpe) (as Mike); Judge Hardy's Children (Seitz) (as Andy Hardy); Hold That Kiss (Marin) (as Chick Evans); Lord Jeff ( The Boy from Bernardos ) (Wood) (as Terry O'Mulvaney); Love Finds Andy Hardy (Seitz) (as Andy Hardy); Boys Town (Taurog) (as Whitey Marsh); Stablemates (Wood) (as Mickey)
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Thorpe) (title role); The Hardys Ride High (Seitz) (as Andy Hardy); Andy Hardy Gets Spring Fever (Van Dyke) (as Andy Hardy); Judge Hardy and Son (Seitz) (as Andy Hardy); Babes in Arms (Berkeley) (as Mickey Moran)
Young Tom Edison (Taurog) (title role); Andy Hardy Meets Debutante (Seitz) (as Andy Hardy); Strike Up the Band (Berkeley) (as Jimmy Connors)
Andy Hardy's Private Secretary (Seitz) (as Andy Hardy); Men of Boys Town (Taurog) (as Whitey Marsh); Life Begins for Andy Hardy (Seitz) (as Andy Hardy); Babes on Broadway (Berkeley) (as Tommy Williams)
The Courtship of Andy Hardy (Seitz) (as Andy Hardy); A Yank at Eton (Taurog) (as Timothy Dennis); Andy Hardy's Double Life ( Andy Hardy Steps Out ) (Seitz) (as Andy Hardy)
The Human Comedy (Brown) (as Homer Macauley); Girl Crazy ( When the Girls Meet the Boys ) (Taurog) (as Danny Churchill Jr.); Thousands Cheer (Taurog)
Andy Hardy's Blonde Trouble (Seitz) (as Andy Hardy); National Velvet (Brown) (as Mi Taylor)
Ziegfeld Follies (Minnelli); Love Laughs at Andy Hardy (Goldbeck) (as Andy Hardy)
Killer McCoy (Rowland) (as Tommy McCoy)
Summer Holiday (Mamoulian) (as Richard Miller); Words and Music (Taurog) (as Lorenz "Larry" Hart)
The Big Wheel (Ludwig) (as Billy Coy)
Quicksand (Pichel) (as Dan Brady, auto mechanic); He's a Cockeyed Wonder (Godfrey) (as Freddie Frisby); The Fireball (Garnett) (as Johnny Casar)
My Outlaw Brother ( My Brother, the Outlaw ) (Nugent) (as Denny O'More); The Strip (Kardos) (as Stanley Maxton)
Sound Off (Quine) (as Mike Donnelly)
All Ashore (Quine) (as Francis "Moby" Dickerson); Mickey Rooney, Then and Now (Staub); Off Limits ( Military Policemen ) (George Marshall) (as Herbert Tuttle); A Slight Case of Larceny (Weis) (as Augustus "Geechy" Cheevers)
Drive a Crooked Road (Quine) (as Eddie Shannon); The Atomic Kid (Martinson) (as Blix Waterberry); The Bridges at Toko-Ri (Robson) (as Mike Forney)
The Twinkle in God's Eye (Blair) (as the Rev. Macklin)
The Bold and the Brave (Lewis R. Foster) (as Dooley); Francis in the Haunted House (Lamont) (as David Prescott); Magnificent Roughnecks (Rose) (as Frank Sommers)
Operation Mad Ball (Quine) (as M/Sgt. Yancy Skibo); Baby Face Nelson (Siegel) (title role)
Andy Hardy Comes Home (Koch) (as Andy Hardy); A Nice Little Bank that Should Be Robbed ( How to Rob a Bank ) (Levin) (as Gus Harris)
The Last Mile (Koch) (as "Killer" John Mears); The Big Operator (Haas) (as Little Joe Braun)
Platinum High School ( Rich, Young, and Deadly ) (Haas) (as Steven Conway)
Breakfast at Tiffany's (Edwards) (as Mr. Yunioshi); King of the Roaring Twenties ( The Big Bankroll ) (Joseph M. Newman) (as Johnny Burke); Everything's Ducky (Taylor) (as Beetle McKay)
Requiem for a Heavyweight (Nelson) (as Army)
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (Kramer) (as Ding Bell)
Secret Invasion (Corman) (as Terrence Scanlon)
Twenty-Four Hours to Kill (Bezencenet) (as Norman Jones); How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (Asher) (as Peachy Keane)
Il diavolo innamorato ( The Devil in Love ; L'arcidiavolo ) (Scola); Ambush Bay (Winston) (as Sgt. Ernest Wartell)
The Extraordinary Seaman (Frankenheimer) (as W.W.J. Oglethorpe); Skidoo (Preminger) (as "Blue Chips" Packard)
The Comic (Carl Reiner) (as Cockeye); Eighty Steps to Jonah (Oswald) (as Wilfred Bashford)
The Cockeyed Cowboys of Calico County (Leader) (as Indian Tom); Hollywood Blue (Osco)
B. J. Lang Presents (Yablonsky)
Evil Roy Slade (Parish—for TV); Richard (Yerby and Hurwitz) (as Guardian Angel); Pulp (Hodges)
The Godmothers (Grefe) (+ co-sc)
Az de corazon ( Ace of Hearts ) (Demicelli); Thunder County ( Cell Block Girls ; Convict Women ; Women's Prison Escape ; It Snows in the Everglades ) (Robinson); That's Entertainment! (Haley Jr.—compilation) (as narrator); Journey Back to Oz (Hal Sutherland—animation) (as voice); The Year without a Santa Claus (Bass and Rankin Jr.—animation, for TV) (as voice of Santa Claus)
Bon baisers de Hong Kong (Chiffre); Rachel's Man (Mizrahi)
Find the Lady ( Kopek and Broom ; Call the Cops! ) (Trent)
Pete's Dragon (Chaffey) (as Lampie); The Domino Principle ( The Domino Killings ) (Kramer) (as Spiventa)
The Magic of Lassie (Chaffey) (as Gus)
The Black Stallion (Ballard) (as Henry Dailey); Donovan's Kid (McEveety—for TV) (as Bailey); Arabian Adventure (Connor) (as Daad El Shur)
My Kidnapper, My Love ( Dark Side of Love ) (Wanamaker—for TV)
The Fox and the Hound (Stevens—animation) (as voice of Tod); Leave 'em Laughing (Cooper—for TV); L'Empereur de Perou ( The Emperor of Peru ; Odyssey of the Pacific ) (Arrabal) (as Emperor of Peru); Bill (Page—for TV) (as Bill Sackter); Senior Trip (Kenneth Johnson—for TV) (cameo)
The Black Stallion Returns (Dalva) (as Henry Dailey); O'Malley (O'Herlihy); One of the Boys (Baldwin)
Bill: On His Own (Page—for TV) (as Bill Sackter)
It Came upon the Midnight Clear (Hunt—for TV)
The Care Bears Movie (Arna Selznick—animation) (as voice of Mr. Cherrywood)
Lightning—The White Stallion (Levey) (as Barney Ingram); Little Spies (Beeman—for TV); The Return of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer (Danton—for TV); There Must Be a Pony (Sargent—for TV) (cameo)
Bluegrass (Wincer—for TV) (as John Paul Jones)
Erik the Viking (Terry Jones) (as Erik's grandfather)
Home for Christmas (McGubbin—for TV) (as Elmer)
My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys (Rosenberg) (as Junior); Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker (Kitrosser) (as Joe Petto); La Vida Lactea ( The Milky Life ) (Esterlich) (as Barry Reilly); The Gambler Returns: Luck of the Draw (Lowry—for TV) (as the Director)
The Magic Voyage (as narrator); The Legend of Wolf Mountain (Clyde) (as Jensen); Maximum Force (Merhi) (as chief of police); Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland (Hurtz and Hata—animation) (as voice of Flip)
Sweet Justice (Plone)
That's Entertainment! III (Friedgen and Sheridan—compilation) (as host); The Revenge of the Red Baron ( Plane Fear ) (Robert Gordon) (as Grandpa James); Radio Star—Die AFN-Story (Karnick and Richter—doc) (as himself)
The Legend of O. B. Taggart (Hitzig) (+ sc); Brothers' Destiny (Hamilton—for TV) (Father Flanagan)
Boys Will Be Boys (Dom DeLuise) (as Wellington); Animals (Di Jiacomo) (as Tollkeeper)
Stories From My Childhood (series for TV) (as Ole Lukoje); Michael Kael vs. the World News Company (Smith) (as Griffith); Babe: Pig in the City (Miller) (as Fugly Floom)
(1927–34 series of "Mickey McGuire" shorts, directed by Herman, Montgomery, and Duffy; Rooney was billed first as Mickey Yule, then Mickey "Himself" McGuire, and Mickey Rooney):
Mickey's Circus (includes Pals , Battle , Eleven )
Mickey's Parade (includes In School , Nine , Little Eva , Wild West , In Love , Triumph , Babies , Movies , Rivals , The Detective , Athletes , Big Game Hunt )
Mickey's Great Idea (includes Explorers , Menagerie , Last Chance , Brown Derby , Northwest Mounted , Initiation , Midnight Follies , Surprise , Mixup , Big Moment )
Mickey's Champs (includes Strategy , Mastermind , Luck , Whirlwind , Warriors , The Romeo , Merry Men , Winners , Musketeers , Bargain )
Mickey's Stampede (includes Crusaders , Rebellion , Diplomacy , Wildcats , Thrill Hunters , Helping Hand , Sideline )
Mickey's Travels (includes Holiday , Golden Rule , Busy Day , Charity , Big Business )
Mickey's Ape Man (includes Race , Big Broadcast , Disguises , Touchdown , Tent Show , Covered Wagon )
Mickey's Minstrels (includes Rescue , Medicine Man )
My True Story
The Private Lives of Adam and Eve (co-d with Zugsmith, + ro as Nick Lewis/Devil)
I.E. An Autobiography , New York, 1963.
Life Is Too Short , New York, 1991.
The Search for Sonny Skies (novel), Secaucus, New Jersey, 1994.
"My Turn: The Value of Villains," in Newsweek , vol. 114, 27 November 1989.
Interview with George Christy, in Interview (New York), May 1992.
Marx, Arthur, The Nine Lives of Mickey Rooney , New York, 1986.
Current Biography 1965 , New York, 1965.
Jordan, D., and E. Connor, "Judge Hardy and Family," in Films in Review (New York), January 1974.
Shindler, Merrill, "'How I Did It!': Three Recent Comebacks that Have Worked," in Los Angeles Magazine , March 1980.
Marill, Alvin H., "Mickey Rooney," in Films in Review (New York), June/July 1982; see also letter in August/September issue.
Wright, J., in Making Better Movies: The Film and Video Monthly (Hertfordshire), vol. 4, November 1988.
Witchel, Alex, "At 73, Still the Star, Still the Child," in New York Times , 7 July 1993.
Nickens, C., "Editorials/Letters: Rooney Didn't Find Marilyn Monroe," in New York Times , vol. 142, A18, 20 July 1993.
* * *
Mickey Rooney has done everything there is to do in show business—vaudeville, radio, legitimate theater, television, and film—all with equal success and, it might be said, equal failure. His is a career that reached the heights and plunged to the depths, but through it all Rooney kept on working and growing, the mark of a professional. His recent successes include nominations for the Tony ( Sugar Babies ), the supporting actor Oscar ( Black Stallion , the inspiration for a later television series in which he also appeared), and an Emmy ( Bill ). The "comeback" such recognition indicates represents one of the most spectacular returns to the limelight in Hollywood history.
Rooney was born into a show business family. At the age of two, he joined his parents in their vaudeville act, and by the age of five was appearing in a series of filmed shorts under the name of Mickey McGuire. Throughout the late 1920s and early 1930s, he made more than 40 appearances in films. By the mid-1930s he was called Mickey Rooney and was under contract to MGM as a successful child star. In 1937 he was featured in a minor film called A Family Affair , which introduced the family of Judge Hardy (played in that original movie by Lionel Barrymore). Rooney's appearance as the Judge's son, Andy Hardy, was to turn into a box-office bonanza as he became one of Hollywood's best-loved characters. Hardy became the idealized image of the all-American teenager, real enough to get himself into trouble, but strong enough to find his way out of it (though not without the wise counsel of his beloved father, played in the later Hardy films by Lewis Stone). In 1938 Rooney was awarded a special honorary Oscar for "bringing to the screen the spirit and personification of youth" and for "setting a high standard of ability and achievement" as Andy Hardy. In 1939, 1940, and 1941 Rooney was among the top box-office stars in the United States, a success attributable not only to the Hardy series, but also to his pairings with co-stars as diverse as Wallace Beery and Judy Garland. In these famous MGM films, Rooney sang, danced, clowned, played various musical instruments, emoted, and generally did everything with seeming ease and an abundance of raw talent. He was nominated for Oscars in 1939 and 1943. He was on top of the world at the age of 20, full of youth and energy, and with an apparently unlimited career ahead of him. By the end of the 1940s, however, and by his own admission, he was an unwanted commodity. "In 1938," he said, "I starred in eight pictures. In 1948 and 1949 together, I starred in only three."
During the 1950s, Rooney kept his career going by appearing in nightclubs and on television, and by forming an independent film production company to present himself as the star of a series of movies, none of which was really successful. He also tried his hand at dramatic roles, many of which were much against type. Rooney received another Oscar nomination for his intense performance as a doomed G.I. during the invasion of Italy in the iconoclastic war film The Bold and the Brave ; drew excellent notices for his supporting role in Requiem for a Heavyweight , the film version of Rod Serling's celebrated television drama; and won a Best Actor César award (the French equivalent of the Oscar) for his Cagneyesque performance as the psychopathic title character of Don Siegel's much underrated gangster film Baby Face Nelson . Despite these accomplishments, his career faltered. Bankruptcy in 1962, various emotional problems, and seven divorces (which made him the subject of many jokes) all contributed to a difficult period in which Rooney was considered finished in show business. He developed himself further as a character actor, however, and began to find acclaim in television. He published an autobiography, pursued various business ventures, and taught acting, continuing to work professionally when and where he could. In the early 1980s he returned to Broadway in the long-running hit musical, Sugar Babies , and found himself once more back on top. When the Motion Picture Academy gave him a second honorary Oscar at its 1982 ceremony, his long career as the boy who could do anything and everything, but who had to grow up, was placed in perspective.
Rooney's abundant talent, like his film image, might seem like a metaphor for America: a seemingly endless supply of natural resources that could never dry up, but which, it turned out, could be ruined by excessive use and abuse, by arrogance or power, and which had to be carefully tended to be returned to full capacity. From child star to character actor, from movie shorts to television specials, and from films to Broadway, Rooney ultimately did prove he could do it all, do it well, and keep on doing it. His is a unique career, both for its versatility and its longevity.
—Jeanine Basinger, updated by John McCarty