Many are aware of the voice of Mickey Rooney. Rooney did voices for 3 popular animated Christmas shows including; The Year Without a Santa Claus. Rooney’s career began in 1922 and still spans to this day.
Mickey Rooney was born on September 23, 1920 to parents who were actors. He was born, Joe Yule Jr. in Brooklyn, New York. By the time Mickey was 18 months old, he was crawling on stage with his parents. At the age of three, his parents divorced and Mickey went to Kansas City, Missouri to live with his sister and mother. At age five, he made his motion picture debut playing an adult midget in Not to be Trusted. By 1926, Mickey and his mother returned to Hollywood were he landed the role of “Mickey McGuire.” From 1927 to 1936, young Rooney played the character “Mickey” for 78 of the comedies. At age 12, he became “Mickey Rooney” when his agent decided he needed a better stage and screen name to land any other roles.
Mickey was not known as one who settled down. He was married eight times before 1978, when he married Jan Chamberlin, who is still his current wife to this day. Tragedy once struck Rooney when his wife, Barbara Ann Thompson, was found dead in their bed with her lover, an actor friend of Rooney’s. Shortly after the death of his wife, he married a close friend of hers. The marriage lasted 100 days. From these eight marriages, Rooney has ten children.
Rooney portrayed Andy Hardy in 1937’s A Family Affair. The film was thought to do mediocre, however it was a huge success and MGM ordered 13 more “Andy Hardy” movies between 1937 and 1946. During the filming of these movies, Rooney and co-star, Judy Garland became a successful sing and dance team. Garland appeared in three of the Andy Hardy films and also co-starred in a string of successful musicals, most notably Oscar nominated Babes in Arms.
In 1944, Rooney served the military for World War II. Upon his return, his film career slumped. In 1954, he began The Mickey Rooney Show also known as Hey Mulligan. The show appeared on NBC for 39 episodes before it was cancelled. In 1961, Rooney played a role in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. This role is still considered one of his most controversial roles as he portrayed a stereo-typed, bucktooth Japanese neighbor to the main character.
In the early 1970’s, Rooney did the voices for three Christmas TV animated shows: Santa Claus is Coming to Town, The Year Without a Santa Claus and Frosty’s Christmas in July.
In 1981, Rooney won a Golden Globe and Academy Award for his role in Bill. Rooney portrayed a mentally challenged man attempting to live on his own after leaving an institution.
Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, Rooney continued to work on stage and television. In 1979, Rooney appeared on the acclaimed stage play, Sugar Babies. He also starred in the long-running television series, The Adventures of the Black Stallion.
Rooney has done nearly 200 films, with five Oscar nominations, one Emmy Award, five Emmy nominations and two Golden Globes. Rooney continues to work in film and alongside his wife, Jan, tours in a live stage production called, Let’s Put On a Show! In 2008, Rooney will enter the Guinness Book of World Records as the actor with the longest career on both stage and screen. Sir Lawrence Oliver has called Rooney; “the best Actor America ever produced.” Rooney’s 85 year career is only a true test to that statement.