Film, TV, and stage legend Mickey Rooney has passed away at 93, after having been in poor health for “quite some time,” according to TMZ, which broke the story. The LAPD confirmed that Rooney died Sunday at his home in Los Angeles, but his cause of death has not been released. Born Joe Yule Jr. in a Brooklyn boardinghouse on September 23, 1920, he made his stage debut as a toddler in his parents’ vaudeville act. Rooney went on to become one of the top box-office draws of the ‘30s and ‘40s as all-American teen Andy Hardy in the Hardy Family films, and won a special Academy Award in 1939 for “bringing to the screen the spirit and personification of youth, and … setting a high standard of ability and achievement.”
Rooney’s career and personal life were both tumultuous. He was married eight times, first to Ava Gardner in 1942, when he was 21 and she was 19. They divorced a year later. He joined the Army and entertained troops during World War II, but when he came home, his career crumbled, thanks in part to his womanizing and problems with alcohol and drugs. He began taking more roles on TV and reinvented himself as a character actor.
In the late ‘70s, Rooney began to turn his life around. He quit drinking, became a born-again Christian, and married his eighth wife, Jan Chamberlin. Their marriage would last longer than the other seven combined, but they reportedly separated in recent years. He had a career comeback too with Sugar Babies, his Broadway debut, in 1979. The musical tribute to burlesque won rave reviews and earned Rooney a Tony Award nomination.
Rooney appeared in more than 300 films and TV projects over the course of his career, including classics like National Velvet and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and recent hits such as Night at the Museum and The Muppets. In addition to winning two Golden Globes and an Emmy, Rooney received Oscar nominations for Babes in Arms, The Human Comedy, The Bold and the Brave, and The Black Stallion. In 1983, he was given an honorary Academy Award “in recognition of his 60 years of versatility in a variety of film performances.”