Iconic ‘All American’ actor Mickey Rooney, the star of the Andy Hardy films and National Velvet, has died at age 93.
Rooney had been ill for some time, US entertainment media reported late on Sunday. The celebrity website TMZ said that Rooney died of natural causes.
Born in Brooklyn in 1920, Rooney was the most beloved star in Hollywood, often alongside Judy Garland, in the 1930s and 1940s, but his career spanned 10 decades and saw him acting into his 90s.
The pint-sized entertainer’s best loved performances included 1944’s National Velvet with Elizabeth Taylor, the Andy Hardy series, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, in which he played an almost unrecognisable Japanese neighbour of Audrey Hepburn’s Holly Golightly, and The Black Stallion in 1978.
Rooney, who was born Joseph Yule Jnr., parlayed a successful career as a child into a wonderful acting legacy. His first film role was in 1927 and his final appearance on screen was in the 2012 movie Last Will and Embezzlement. He also recently appeared in the 2006 comedy Night at the Museum and in the 2011 movie The Muppets.
In 1937, Rooney was cast as Andy Hardy in A Family Affair. The film was an unexpected success and led to another 13 Andy Hardy films up until 1958, three of which were opposite Judy Garland.
In 1939, the actor received a juvenile Oscar for 1938’s Boys Town, opposite fellow screen great Spencer Tracey. and in 1982 he received a lifetime achievement Academy Award.
Rooney was married eight times, his first to screen beauty Ava Gardner in 1942 – which lasted a year. His eighth marriage, to Jan Chamberlin, ended in separation in May 2013.
When Gardner wrote her memoirs in the late 1980s, she said Rooney, who she married at age 19, was the “fox” of MGM Studios, where he was the movie factory’s biggest star.
“Why don’t we start with my first husband, Mickey Rooney? I was still practically a child anyway.” — Ava Gardner http://t.co/svw4bT9qMP
— VANITY FAIR (@VanityFair) April 7, 2014
“Always get married in the morning. That way if it doesn’t work out, you haven’t wasted the whole day.” Mickey Rooney, who died today. RIP.
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) April 7, 2014
Mickey Rooney got all the best babes despite being short as hell. #RIP beautiful man
— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) April 7, 2014
But Rooney will be remembered as the golden boy who charmed audiences during The Great Depression and the Second World War.