Hollywood's top box office star of 1939, washed up and bankrupt by 1962, Mickey Rooney led a life as dramatic as any of the 200 films to his name.
But by the end of his long career, the small but powerful actor had emerged as one of the more spirited survivors of the studio system. Initially named Joe Yule Junior, the all-American bundle of energy was the son of two Brooklyn-based vaudevillians. Aged 18 months, the toddler crawled on to the stage with his parents and never looked back.
The quintessential cheeky chappie turned his attention to cinema and, by the age of six, had his first film role, that of a cigar-smoking midget in Orchids and Ermine. Starring in a string of two-reel comedies as the spunky newspaper strip hero Mickey McGuire inspired the fledgling actor to change his name.
Hollywood high point
In 1937 and now called Mickey Rooney, the actor took the the part of Andy Hardy in the film A Family Affair. Playing the son of a small-town judge proved a huge box office draw, and spawned a hit series lasting eight years. At the same time, a series of barnyard musicals paired him with another celebrated studio system youth, Judy Garland. The pair sang and skipped through a catalogue of innocent extravaganzas.
By 1939, Rooney was established as the film industry's top box office draw and married to Ava Gardner. He had Hollywood in his pocket. His honorary Oscar the previous year had cited his "significant contribution in bringing to the screen the spirit and personification of youth". Such spirit of youth could be seen very clearly in 1944. Alongside Elizabeth Taylor, Rooney enjoyed international triumph with National Velvet, but his star appeared to be on the wane.
After wartime service interrupted his career, Rooney attempted to translate his wily youthful persona into more mature roles. He took on character parts, such as Mr Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) and Ding Bell in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963).
[Only registered and activated users can see links. ]
I mainly remember him in its a mad mad mad mad world as one of the taxi drivers who got involved in the race for the money. (">