Mickey Rooney, versatile actor and master showman, dies at 93
By Bill Trott
(Reuters) - Actor Mickey Rooney, who became the United States' biggest movie star while a brash teenager in the 1930s and later a versatile character actor in a career that spanned 10 decades, died on Sunday of natural causes, Los Angeles authorities said. He was 93.
Rooney, who developed a reputation as a hard-partying, off-screen brat in his heyday and married eight times, died at his home in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles County coroner's office said, citing information from the Los Angeles Police Department.
"He was undoubtedly the most talented actor that ever lived.
There was nothing he couldn't do," said actress Margaret O'Brien, who recently worked with Rooney on a film adaption of Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."
Actress Rose Marie, a long-time friend of Rooney, said he was one of the greatest talents show business had ever had. "I shall miss him and the world shall miss him," she said in a statement.
Other stars took to Twitter to express their sadness about Rooney's death.
"RIP Mickey Rooney. We can only be awed and grateful for so many great performances," actress Mia Farrow said.
Actor William Shatner described him as "one of the greats," and author Anne Rice said he was not only an actor but a legend.
"Sad to think of him gone. But what an amazing life he lived," Rice added on Twitter.
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 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 as 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 back to Rooney when he began getting other roles.
As a teenager, Rooney was cute, diminutive - he topped out at 5 feet 2 inches - and bursting with hammy energy. Those attributes served him well when he was cast as the wide-eyed, wise-cracking Andy Hardy in a series of films that would give movie-goers a brief opportunity to forget the lingering woes of the Great Depression in the late 1930s.