Mickey Rooney Jr. Dies: Musician, Mouseketeer & Hollywood Scion Was 77

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Mickey Rooney Jr., the eldest son of Hollywood actor Mickey Rooney who went on to a show business career of his own that included being an original – if short-lived — Mouseketeer, an actor and a member of Willie Nelson’s band, died Saturday at his home in Glendale, AZ. He was 77.

His death was announced by Paul Petersen, the former actor and founder of advocacy group A Minor Consideration. Petersen, who posted the news on Facebook, did not specify a cause but said Rooney died peacefully.

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The first child of Mickey Rooney and his first wife, the singer Betty Jane Rase, Rooney Jr. and his brother Tim Rooney were hired by Walt Disney in 1955 as original Mouseketeers for The Mickey Mouse Club. Both Rooneys, as well as fellow Mouseketeer Petersen, were fired before the end of the first season.

Willie Nelson and Mickey Rooney Jr., ‘Honeysuckle Rose’ (1980) - Credit: Everett Collection
Willie Nelson and Mickey Rooney Jr., ‘Honeysuckle Rose’ (1980) - Credit: Everett Collection

Everett Collection

“Mickey Junior was tall and talented,” Petersen wrote on Facebook. “He could sing, dance and act … and get in trouble. We three were fired for Conduct Unbecoming a Mouse!”

Rooney Jr. later appeared in several films, including the 1967 feature Hot Rods to Hell and the 1975 TV movie Beyond the Bermuda Triangle. A musician who played multiple instruments — guitar, keyboards, drums — Rooney Jr. formed a band with brother Tim in the 1960s and appeared on the TV music show Shindig! He later played in bands with Nelson and appeared alongside him in the 1980 feature Honeysuckle Rose.

Later in life, Rooney Jr., who had struggled with substance-abuse issues, became a born-again Christian and founded an evangelical ministry.

“Mickey Junior was the personification of ‘damaged goods,'” Petersen wrote. “He gave all he could. I was born on the same day as Mickey’s father and ‘The Mic’ gave me, unsolicited mind you, the most useful advice I ever got. It is one of my greatest sorrows that he didn’t do the same for his son. Mickey Rooney Junior. Rest in Peace at last. We will see to your wishes.”

Rooney Jr. is survived by companion Chrissie Brown. Complete information on survivors was not immediately available.

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