Hollywood icon Mickey Rooney dead at 93

Mickey Rooney, a Hollywood legend with one of the longest careers of any actor in American film, has died. He was 93.

Born Joe Yule Jr. in Brooklyn to two vaudeville veterans, Rooney debuted on the silver screen aged six and appeared in more than 300 films. The irrepressible showman's prolific career on stage and screen spanned eight decades and earned him four Academy Award nominations and two special Oscars.

"He was undoubtedly the most talented actor that ever lived. There was nothing he couldn't do," actress Margaret O'Brien said in a statement. O'Brien recently worked with Rooney on "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."

"I always say, 'Don't retire — inspire,'" Rooney said in an interview with The Associated Press in March 2008. "There's a lot to be done."

At the peak of his fame in the early 1940s, Rooney was Hollywood's biggest box-office draw. The cherubic, diminutive young performer skyrocketed to national fame after starring as all-American teenager Andy Hardy in "A Family Affair," which spawned nearly 20 sequels over three decades.

Widely beloved for a string of high-energy musicals with longtime friend Judy Garland, Rooney was the first teen nominated for an Oscar for his performance in their classic song-and-dance picture "Babes in Arms."

Rooney also scored plaudits for an early dramatic turn as a delinquent youth in the Spencer Tracy film "Boys Town." The role earned him a special Juvenile Academy Award in 1939.

Reuters described the young Rooney as "the Justin Bieber of his time. His fame, money, gambling, lust and mercurial nature were problems for the MGM studio, which did not like seeing its young star sully his reputation and box-office potential. The studio assigned a full-time staffer to keep Rooney out of trouble but his antics still frequently ended up in gossip columns."

As the pint-sized Rooney grew older, he remained a ubiquitous presence on numerous television shows and as a character player in scores of Hollywood titles, from Francis Ford Coppola's "The Black Stallion" to 2011's "The Muppets."

Rooney also won an Emmy for his TV movie "Bill" and had a Tony nomination for his Broadway smash "Sugar Babies."

Rooney was married eight times — including a year of matrimony with the 19-year-old Ava Gardner. He had 11 children.

"The American public is my family," Rooney once said. "I've had fun with them all my life."

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

  • Slideshow Photos

    Image: Mickey Rooney

    Mickey Rooney, 1920-2014

    The actor-singer-dancer may have been short of height, but he loomed tall with his enduring talent.

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    Seen here in 1987, Mickey Rooney spent the majority of his life in show business, and died on April 6, 2014.
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    Little man -

    At age 6, Rooney was already posing like a pro for promotional photos like this one, which is dated approximately 1925.
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    Putting on a show -

    Rooney, aged 7 in this photo, had a clear stage presence early on.
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    All-American boy -

    Rooney as a child, 1930. He appeared in his first film in 1926, a short called "Not to Be Trusted."
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    Dotted line -

    A savvy veteran of Hollywood by age 13, Rooney is shown reading his movie contract before signing, with his manager Harry Weber looking on, in Sept. 1934. Rooney reportedly received $150 per week from the movie studio.
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    Gang's all here -

    Judy Garland, Jackie Cooper, Diane Lewis and Mickey Rooney (left to right) check out a ball game in Hollywood in 1936.
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    Good boy -

    Rooney starred as Whitey Marsh with Spencer Tracy as Father Edward J. Flanagan in 1938's "Boys Town."
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    On the ropes -

    In "Boys Town," Rooney was coached by Spencer Tracy's Father Flanagan (also pictured, Frankie Thomas).
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    Tuning up -

    Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland starred alongside one another in 1939's "Babes in Arms," and ultimately made ten films together.
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    Dynamic duo -

    Rooney and Garland strike a pose during the CBS Lux Radio Theater broadcast of 1940's "Strike Up the Band."
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    True Hollywood glamour -

    Rooney wed his first wife Ava Gardner in 1942; here, the two pose shortly before the nuptials. They split in 1943.
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    Boots on the ground -

    Private First Class Mickey Rooney does some impressions for the infantrymen of the 44th Division of the U.S. Seventh Army in April 1945. He was a member of a three-man unit making a jeep tour to entertain the troops in Germany, and received a Bronze Star Medal for his work.
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    Hi-yo, Silver! -

    Butch Jenkins, Elizabeth Taylor and Rooney pose atop a horse in a promotional photo for 1945's "National Velvet."
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    Come dancing -

    Elizabeth Taylor and Rooney shared a little dance backstage in 1947.
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    Third time around -

    In 1949, Rooney was ready to wed Martha Vickers, but they both had to wait for divorces from their spouses first. Vickers became Rooney's third wife later that year.
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    Ooh, la la! -

    Mickey Rooney created a French caricature in Jacques Devereux, which he played on "The Mickey Rooney Show" (1954-55).
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    Atten-hut! -

    Rooney earned his third Oscar nomination for playing G.I. Dooley in 1956's "The Bold and the Brave."
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    Tell the truth -

    Rooney played Pinocchio, the toy who would be a boy, in a 1957 TV movie.
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    Controversial role -

    Mickey Rooney plays the role of I.Y. Yuniosh in the 1961 film, "Breakfast at Tiffany's," a role that became the subject of extensive critical commentary and review.
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    End of the line -

    Mickey Rooney played Grady in "The Twilight Zone" episode "The Last Night of a Jockey," which was written by Rod Serling and originally broadcast on Oct. 25, 1963.
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    Full of Hope -

    Rooney played Lefty Duncan in 1965's "Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater." It was his second of two appearances on the program.
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    Back to school -

    Rooney appeared with Sammy Davis Jr. and Connie Stevens in a 1972 episode of the short-lived "NBC Follies."
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    In living color -

    Rooney played Mickey Mulligan opposite his third wife, actress Elaine Devry, in "The Mickey Rooney Show." They divorced in 1958.
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    Horse of a different color -

    Rooney received his final acting Oscar nomination for his role in 1979's "The Black Stallion," in which he appeared with Michael Higgins, Teri Garr, Kelly Reno, Kristen Vigard and Clarence Muse.
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    I Love New York -

    Ann Miller and Mickey Rooney film a portion of an "I Love New York" commercial in 1980, surrounded by the titular Sugar Babies from the musical comedy review of the same name.
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    Gotham guy -

    Rooney also appeared alongside Elizabeth Taylor in an "I Love New York" commercial, this one filmed in 1981.
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    Golden boy -

    In 2007, Rooney posed with some of his awards, including an honoray Oscar given to him in 1983 for recognizing his then-50 years in the business, and an Emmy for his work in 1982's "Bill."
    Mario Anzuoni / Reuters
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    Last in the line -

    Rooney and his final wife, Jan Chamberlin, wed in 1978 and separated in 20013. Here, they pose together at the 14th annual Screen Actors Guild awards in January 2008 in Los Angeles.
    Kevin Winter / Getty Images
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    On the Hill -

    Rooney gave testimony on Capitol Hill in 2011 about elder abuse, something he said he had suffered himself at the hands of a family member. "I felt trapped, scared, used ad frustrated," he told the Senate committee.
    Alex Brandon / AP
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    Mad world -

    Rooney, who co-starred in 1963's "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," was on hand to kick off The Last 70mm Film Festival, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in July 2012 in Beverly Hills, Calif.
    Chris Pizzello / AP
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