Mickey Rooney was born on September 23, 1920, in Brooklyn. His first stage appearance was in his parents' vaudeville act, and in 1937 he played Andy Hardy in the first of 16 films featuring the character. He co-starred with Judy Garland in a successful series of musicals and was awarded a special juvenile Oscar in 1938. Rooney continues to work as a character actor.
Originally known as Joe Yule Jr., Mickey Rooney made his first film appearance in 1926, playing a midget. 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, an all-American teenager. This beloved character appeared in 16 films and helped make Rooney the top box office star of 1939, 1940 and 1941. In 1938, Rooney received a special miniature Academy Award for his "contribution in bringing to the screen the spirit and personification of youth" for his work on the Andy Hardy film series.
Rooney rose to film prominence as both a dramatic actor, opposite such greats as Spencer Tracy, and as a musical entertainer, with co-stars like Judy Garland. He earned three Academy Award nominations in the 1940s and ‘50s, and then as his cinematic clout seemed to fade he turned to television. The Mickey Rooney Show only ran from 1954 to 1955, however. Still, the consummate entertainer pressed on, making television guest appearances, performing in nightclubs and landing a few smaller film parts. One of his most notable roles from this time was in the war drama The Bold and the Brave (1956), which showed that he could shine in a serious role. Tackling another dramatic role, he played a boxing trainer in Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962) with Anthony Quinn and Jackie Gleason.
Experiencing a career slump in the late 1960s and 1970s, Rooney showed audiences and critics alike why he is one of Hollywood's most enduring stars. He gave an impressive performance in 1979's The Black Stallion, which brought him an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor. Around this time, Rooney also wowed theater audiences in a revival of Sugar Babies with Ann Miller on Broadway, a production that earned them both Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations.
In 1981, Rooney won an Emmy Award for his portrayal of a mentally challenged man in Bill. The critical acclaim continued to flow 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."
Now in his nineties, Rooney continues to act and has appeared in such films as Night at the Museum (2006) with Ben Stiller and The Muppets (2011). Outside of performing, Rooney has chosen to use his distinctive voice to speak out about elder abuse. He testified about the issue in Congress in 2011. He currently resides in Los Angeles with his son and caregiver Mark Rooney and Mark’s wife Charlene. This year Mickey celebrates his 90th year in show business.