Mickey Rooney, a celebrated child actor who embodied the All-American boy in the “Andy Hardy” films of the 1930s and ’40s and became one of the era’s top box-office draws, has died. He was 93.
The Los Angeles coroner’s office confirmed the death of Rooney, whose roller-coaster show-business career was marked by an often-turbulent personal life. No other details were immediately available.
One of the most enduring performers in show business, he made his debut on the vaudeville stage in 1922 as a toddler and toured into his late ’80s in a two-person stage show with Jan Chamberlin, his eighth wife. They had been married since 1978.
Jokes about his propensity to walk down the aisle were once a staple of pop culture. Even Rooney told them. “My marriage license reads, ‘To whom it may concern,'” he chortled to The Times in 1981. The first and most famous of his wives was actress Ava Gardner, whom he married in 1942.
Of his final, lasting marriage, he once simply said: “I think you go until you find the right one. Jan was the right one for me.”
When the 90-year-old Rooney testified before Congress in 2011 about elder abuse, the actor said he spoke from personal experience. A family member who took and misused Rooney’s money had left him powerless, he said.
“I felt trapped, scared, used and frustrated,” Rooney told a Senate committee. “When a man feels helpless, it’s terrible.”
Rooney did not identify the person during his testimony, but the previous month he had obtained a restraining order against his stepson Chris Aber. He accused him of withholding food and medicine and trying to gain control of his assets.
A settlement was reached when Aber and his wife, who both denied wrongdoing, agreed to abide by the stay-away order without it being enforced by a judge.
“If elder abuse happened to me, Mickey Rooney,” the actor testified, “it can happen to anyone.”
In 1982, Rooney earned an Emmy Award for playing the title character in a drama, “Bill,” about a mentally challenged man living on his own for the first time. Many critics considered it his best performance.