Rooney was born Joe Yule Jr., on September 23, 1920 in Brooklyn, son of well-known performers Joe Yule and Nell Carter. The consummate performer, he made his first stage appearance at the age of one when he crawled out on stage during his Parénts' vaudeville act.
All of Rooney's eighty-three years have been busy. At four, he made his motion picture debut, as a midget in Not To Be Trusted. A year later, he became Mickey Himself McGuire for seventy-eight short film comedies based on Fontaine Fox's tough little cartoon character. He outgrew the role at twelve and went on the road taking the name of Mickey Rooney. In the 1930's, he signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for whom he made the famous Andy Hardy series. Box office receipts for 1938-1940 made him the number one star in the world.
In 1939, he received a special Academy Award for the film Boy's Town with Spencer Tracy and for his work in the Andy Hardy series. This was also the year he made his first major musical with Judy Garland, Babes in Arms, which earned him an Academy Award nomination as best actor. It was the first time a juvenile had competed with adult stars for the honor. The next time he was so honored was in 1943 for his work in The Human Comedy. In 1944, he made National Velvet with Elizabeth Taylor, before joining the army for World War II. As a regular GI, during the war he entertained frontline troops with the Jeep Shows, which consisted of three men in a jeep who delivered much needed entertainment to the troops at the front. For his services in the war, he was awarded the Bronze Star with clusters.
After the war, Rooney set about rebuilding his career. He would make several classic films including Killer McCoy, The Fireball (Marilyn Monroe's first film), Baby Face Nelson and Breakfast at Tiffany's. His list of credits for the past eight decades is impressive, containing more than three hundred films, including The Black Stallion for which he received an Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
With the advent of television, Rooney dove into and conquered the new medium. He appeared in many classic dramas, such as The Comedian with famed director John Frankenheimer, (for which he received an Emmy nomination) and the classic Twilight Zone episode The Last Night of a Jockey. In 1982, he portrayed Bill Sechter in the television film Bill and received an Emmy, The Golden Globe, and the Peabody Award for his performance. He repeated the role two years later in Bill On His Own. He has starred in numerous television series including Hey Mulligan; Mickey for which he won the Golden Globe in 1964; A Year At The Top with Sammy Davis Jr.; One Of The Boys with Nathan Land and Dana Carvey; and The Adventures of the Black Stallion.
In 1979, Rooney achieved a new triumph, which took him to the cover of Life magazine for his starring role in the theatrical production of Sugar Babies, which garnered him a Tony nomination. The show ran successfully on Broadway for three years and had a record-breaking eight-year run on the road. His stage success continued in 1989 when he and Donald O'Connor made a twenty-city tour in Two For The Show, which they co-wrote. In 1990, they enjoyed similar success, with a thirteen-city tour in Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys. He returned to Broadway in 1993 to appear with Larry Gatlin in The Will Rogers Follies. He successfully revived Sugar Babies in 1995 at the Desert Inn in Las Vegas with Juliette Prowse and appeared in Toronto at Royal Alexandra Theatre in Crazy for You. In 1997, he toured the United States and Canada as 'The Wizard' and 'Professor Marvel' in Madison Square Garden's acclaimed production of The Wizard of Oz.
In 1998 Rooney and his wife Jan launched a successful tour of The One Man One Wife Show in Australia and New Zealand. The show has been a continued success delighting audiences throughout the United States and Europe. Rooney is also an accomplished musician and can play almost every instrument in an orchestra. As a member of ASCAP, he has composed numerous pop songs, a symphony and several film scores.
The recipient of three stars on The Hollywood Walk of Fame, in April of 2004, Rooney was honored to received a Fourth Star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame. He proudly shares that star with his wife, Jan for their achievement in live entertainment. They remain deeply in love with one another. They currently reside in Ventura County, California. There they enjoy the pleasure and quiet of the country with the other loves of their lives, children, grandchildren and their two birds. They are both strong Animal Rights advocates.
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Mickey Rooney Facts
|Joe Yule Jr.
|September 23, 1920 (103)
|Brooklyn, New York, USA
|5' 3" (1m60) How tall is Mickey Rooney compared to you?
|1983 Academy Awards: Honorary Award
|1982 Golden Globe Awards: Best Actor in a Mini-Series or a TV Film (for Bill)