Mickey Rooney dead at 93: Hollywood pays tribute

Apr 7, 2014

Actors, directors and critics remember Mickey Rooney the child actor who went on to stardom

THE veteran Hollywood entertainer Mickey Rooney, one of the most popular actors of his generation, has died at the age of 93.

His death was confirmed by his son, Michael Joseph Rooney.

Fellow stars and members of the media paid tribute to the actor, whose career spanned an incredible ten decades, on social media and in the press.

Girls creator and actor Lena Dunham wrote on Twitter "Mickey Rooney got all the best babes despite being short as hell. #RIP beautiful man".

Shawn Levy, a Hollywood director, tweeted: "Had the honour of shooting with Mickey Rooney on Night At The Museum 3 just last month. A legend, obviously, but something more: grateful, gracious, vital and warm."

Fashion editor Nina Garcia quoted one of Rooney's most famous aphorisms in her tribute: "'I buy women shoes and they use them to walk away from me.' RIP Mickey Rooney. A Hollywood legend", Garcia wrote.

Mickey Rooney began his career as a child star in the 1920s, and went on to become one of the most successful actors of his generation. His career was forged during the golden age of Hollywood in the 1930s and 1940s, when studios built the reputations of some of the most recognisable names of 20th-century cinema.

At the height of his career in 1941, he sold more cinema tickets than any other Hollywood star, ahead of Clark Gable, Bette Davis and Bob Hope.

His movies included the hugely popular Andy Hardy series, Captains Courageous (1937), Boys Town (1938), National Velvet (1944), Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962), It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), The Black Stallion (1979) and Bill (1981).

The actor was as well-known for his tumultuous love life as he was for his on-screen performances. The Guardian notes that film producer Louis B Mayer objected strenuously to Rooney's pursuit of women. "I don't care what you do off camera," he told Rooney, "just don't do it in public. In public, behave. Your fans expect it. You're Andy Hardy. You're the United States. You're the Stars and Stripes. Behave yourself. You're a symbol."

Rooney was married eight times, first to screen beauty Ava Gardner. Asked once if he would marry all his eight wives again, he said: "Absolutely. I loved every one of them."

Adam Bernstein, of the Washington Post, declares Rooney an "irrepressible actor of seemingly limitless skills".

Bernstein notes a review of the entertainer's work by John O'Connor, a New York Times television critic, who underlined Rooney's power as an actor in his review of Bill, the story of a mentally disabled man who leaves an institution to live in the real world.

"As a superb clown, he can look profoundly sad in repose, his eyes going darkly blank," wrote O'Connor. "Then, on the slightest pretext, he can switch to a smile that embodies something approaching an all-trusting delight."

In 1983, Rooney was presented with a special Oscar for lifetime achievement. He continued to work throughout his life, appearing in roles on television, in the theatre, and most recently with a cameo in The Muppets movie in 2011. 

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Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's? In which role, pray?