View Count: 171 |  Publish Date: April 07, 2014
Mickey Rooney, actor whose career spanned 80 years, dies

Mickey Rooney, the exuberant entertainer who led a roller-coaster life - the worlds top box-office star at 19 as the irrepressible Andy Hardy, a bankrupt has-been in his 40s, a comeback kid on Broadway as he neared 60 - died on Sunday. He was 93 and lived in Westlake Village (Los Angeles County).
His death was confirmed by his son Michael Joseph Rooney.
He stood only a few inches taller than 5 feet, but Mr. Rooney was larger and louder than life. From the moment he toddled onto a burlesque stage at 17 months to his movie debut at 6 to his career-crowning Broadway debut in Sugar Babies at 59 and beyond, he did it all. He could act, sing, dance, play piano and drums, and before he was out of short pants he could cry on cue.
As Andy Hardy, growing up in the idealized fictional town of Carvel, Mr. Rooney was the most famous teenager in America from 1937 to 1944: everybodys cheeky son or younger brother, energetic and feverishly in love with girls and cars. The 15 Hardy Family movies, in which all problems could be solved by Andys man-to-man talks with his father, Judge Hardy (played by Lewis Stone), earned more than $75 million - a huge sum during the Depression years, when tickets rarely cost more than 25 cents.Top box-office draw
In 1939, Americas theater owners voted Mr. Rooney the No. 1 box-office star, over Tyrone Power. That same year he sang and danced his way to an Oscar nomination for best actor in Babes in Arms, the first of the Hey kids, lets put on a show MGM musicals he made with Judy Garland.
He was box-office king again in 1940, over Spencer Tracy, and in 1941, with Clark Gable taking second place. Three years earlier, in the New York Times, Frank Nugent had written of Mr. Rooneys performance as the swaggering bully redeemed by Tracys Father Flanagan in Boys Town:
Mickey is the Dead End gang rolled into one. Hes Jimmy Cagney, Humphrey Bogart and King Kong before they grew up, or knew a restraining hand. Mickey, as the French would understate it, is the original enfant terrible.
Mr. Rooney was among the last survivors of Hollywoods studio era, which his career predated. He signed a contract with MGM in 1934 and landed his first big role as Clark Gable as a boy in Manhattan Melodrama. A loanout to Warner Bros. brought him praise as an exuberant Puck in Max Reinhardts 1935 production of A Midsummer Nights Dream, which also featured James Cagney and a young Olivia de Havilland.
His later career proved his resilience: An Oscar nomination for Black Stallion. The Sugar Babies hit that captivated New York, London, Las Vegas and major U.S. cities. Voicing animated features like The Fox and the Hound, The Care Bears Movie and Little Nemo. An Emmy for his portrayal of a disturbed man in the 1981 TV movie Bill. Teaming with his eighth wife, Jan, off-Broadway in 2004 for a musical look back at his career called, fittingly, Lets Put on a Show.Dynamic personal life
Mr. Rooneys personal life was as dynamic as his screen presence. He married eight times. He earned $12 million before he was 40 and spent more. Impulsive, recklessly extravagant, mercurial and addicted to playing the ponies and shooting craps, he attacked life as though it were a six-course dinner.
In Mr. Rooneys later years, his life became tumultuous once again. In 2011 he obtained a restraining order against his stepson Christopher Aber and Abers wife, Christina, charging them with withholding food and medicine and forcing him to sign over his assets. He repeated his allegations in Washington before the Senate Special Committee on Aging. He later filed suit against them; the suit was settled in 2013, with the Abers agreeing that they owed Mr. Rooney $2.8 million.
For all the ups and downs of Mr. Rooneys life and career, there was one constant: his love of performing. Growing up in vaudeville, he once said, made me cognizant of the need to have fun at what youre doing. You cant get it done well without it being fun.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Time: 7:47  |  News Code: 396732  |  Site: San Francisco Chronicle
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