Mickey Rooney dies at 93

Tributes paid to MGM giant.

by Amber Wilkinson

Mickey Rooney, Dick Van Dyke and Bill Cobbs in Night At The Museum
Mickey Rooney, Dick Van Dyke and Bill Cobbs in Night At The Museum
Actor Mickey Rooney died at the age of 93 on Sunday. The Brooklyn-born child star who went on to become a giant at MGM is reported to have been ill for some time.

Rooney - real name Joseph Yule Junior - began his career when he was just an toddler in his parents' vaudeville act Yule and Carter. He starred in his first film - a silent - Not To Be Trusted in 1926 and quickly went on to find success as comic strip character Mickey Maguire in a string of silent comedy shorts.

It was the role of Andy Hardy - the son of a small town judge - in a string of films, and his pairing with Judy Garland in musicals such as Babes In Arms that propelled him to stardom. By the time he was 19, in 1939, he was the biggest box office draw in Hollywood.

His career was interrupted by the Second World War, when he spent two years entertaining the troops. Afterwards, he struggled to forge a career as an "adult" actor. Despite some success with television work, he filed for bankruptcy in 1962. Still, he stuck by his motto "never retire but inspire" and continued to work in recent years, with cameo roles in The Muppets and Night At The Museum.

During his lifetime, the star was nominated for four Academy Awards and received two special Oscars, most recently in 1983 for his body of work.

Tributes poured in for Rooney.

In a statement, his former co-star Carol Channing wrote, "I loved working with Mickey on Sugar Babies. He was very professional, his stories were priceless and I love them all... each and every one. We laughed all the time."

At the time of his death, Rooney was working on a new film with fellow former child star Margaret O'Brien.

She said in a statement: "Mickey was the only one at the studio that was ever allowed to call me Maggie. He was undoubtedly the most talented actor that ever lived. There was nothing he couldn't do. Singing, dancing, performing... all with great expertise. Mickey made it look so easy. I was currently doing a film with him, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - I simply can't believe it. He seemed fine through the filming and was as great as ever."

The star's offscreen life was almost as colourful as that onscreen. He was married eight times, including to star Ava Gardner.

He is survived by his wife, singer Jan Chamberlin, whom he married in 1978, and nine children. His son, Tim, died in 2006.

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