Breaking News: Legendary Entertainer Mickey Rooney Dies at 93

Breaking News: Legendary Entertainer Mickey Rooney Dies at 93

According to TMZ, Mickey Rooney, who spent nearly his entire life in the show business, died today at 93, after being in ill health for quite some time. He appeared on Broadway in Sugar Babies (opposite fellow MGM legend Ann Miller) and The Will Rogers Follies.

A four-time Oscar-nominee for Babes in Arms, The Human Comedy, The Bold and the Brave and The Black Stallion (as well as the winner of a 1939 Academy Juvenile Award), Rooney was American's biggest box office attraction at one point in the late 1930s. Brash, charming and exuberant, he was acclaimed for his skills as an actor as well as a song and dance man. With Garland, he starred in such films as Babes in Arms, Strike Up the Band, Girl Crazy and Babes on Broadway. He also played the title role in the Andy Hardy films. Rooney, who has appeared in literally hundreds of films and TV shows, has also appeared on screen in Boys Town, Young Tom Edison, Words and Music, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Requiem for a Heavyweight and Babe: Pig in the City, among many others.

Mickey Rooney was born Joe Yule Jr. on September 23, 1920 in Brooklyn, New York. He first took the stage as a toddler in his parents' vaudeville act at 17 months old. He made his first film appearance in 1926. The following year, he played the lead character in the first Mickey McGuire short film. It was in this popular film series that he took the stage name Mickey Rooney. Rooney reached new heights in 1937 with A Family Affair, the film that introduced the country to Andy Hardy, the popular all-American teenager. This beloved character appeared in nearly 20 films and helped make Rooney the top star at the box office in 1939, 1940 and 1941. Rooney also proved himself an excellent dramatic actor as a delinquent in Boys Town starring Spencer Tracy. In 1938, he was awarded a juvenile Academy Award.

Teaming up with Judy Garland, Rooney also appeared in a string of musicals, including Babes in Arms (1939) the first teenager to be nominated for an Oscar in a leading role, Strike up the Band(1940), Babes on Broadway (1941), and Girl Crazy (1943). He and Garland immediately became best of friends. "We weren't just a team, we were magic," Rooney once said. During that time he also appeared with Elizabeth Taylor in the now classic National Velvet (1944). Rooney joined the service that same year, where he helped to entertain the troops and worked on the American Armed Forces Network. He returned to Hollywood after 21 months in Love Laughs at Andy Hardy(1946), did a remake of a Robert Taylor film, The Crowd Roars called Killer McCoy (1947) and portrayed composer Lorenz Hart in Words and Music (1948). He also appeared in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard. Rooney played Hepburn's Japanese neighbor, Mr. Yunioshi. A sign of the times, Rooney played the part for comic relief which he later regretted feeling the role was offensive. He once again showed his incredible range in the dramatic role of a boxing trainer with Anthony Quinn and Jackie Gleason in Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962). In the late 1960s and 1970s Rooney showed audiences and critics alike why he was one of Hollywood's most enduring stars. He gave an impressive performance in Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 film The Black Stallion, which brought him an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor. He also turned to the stage in 1979 in Sugar Babies with Ann Miller, and was nominated for a Tony Award. During that time he also portrayed the Wizard in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz with Eartha Kitt at New York's Madison Square Garden, which also had a successful run nationally.

Rooney appeared in four television series': The Mickey Rooney Show (1954-1955), a comedy sit-com in 1964 with Sanunee Tong called Mickey, One of the Boys in 1982 with Dana Carvey and Nathan Lane, and the Adventures of the Black Stallion from 1990-1993. In 1981, Rooney won an Emmy Award for his portrayal of a mentally challenged man in Bill. The critical acclaim continued to now for the veteran performer, with Rooney receiving an honorary Academy Award "in recognition of his 60 years of versatility in a variety of memorable film performances". More recently he has appeared in such films as Night at the Museum (2006) with Ben Stiller, and The Muppets (2011) with Amy Adams and Jason Segel.

Photo: Mickey Rooney at The Sands Expo in Las Vegas in January of 1996 by Walter McBride / WM Photos

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