IBDB: Internet Broadway Database Policies About the Internet Broadway Database Help FAQ/Contact the Internet Broadway Database
  Home Shows People Theatres Characters Awards Songs grosses  
The Broadway League

Official Broadway League sites:

Quick Search For:   In This Category:  

Mickey Rooney

( b. Sep 23, 1920 Brooklyn, New York, USA - d. Apr 06, 2014 Westlake Village, California, USA ) Male
Also known as: Joseph Yule, Jr. [Birthname]
Relations: Son of Joe Yule
Son of Nell Carter

Mickey Rooney was an exuberant entertainer who led a roller-coaster life -- the world's top box-office star at 19 as the irrepressible Andy Hardy, a bankrupt has-been in his 40s, and a comeback kid on Broadway as he neared 60. He stood only a few inches taller than five feet, but Mr. Rooney was larger and louder than life. From the moment he toddled onto a burlesque stage at 17 months to his movie debut at 6 to his career-crowning Broadway debut in Sugar Babies at 59 and beyond, he did it all. He could act, sing, dance, play piano and drums, and before he was out of short pants he could cry on cue.

Mr. Rooney's personal life was as dynamic as his screen presence. He married eight times. He earned $12 million before he was 40 and spent more. Impulsive, recklessly extravagant, mercurial and addicted to playing the ponies and shooting craps, he attacked life as though it were a six-course dinner.

At 13, he auditioned for the role of the mischievous sprite Puck in the great Austrian producer-director Max Reinhardt's 1934 Hollywood Bowl production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Though unfamiliar with Shakespeare, Mr. Rooney impressed Reinhardt, who cast him in the play and -- along with James Cagney, Dick Powell and Olivia de Havilland -- in the movie version he directed with William Dieterle a year later.

As Andy Hardy, growing up in the idealized fictional town of Carvel, Mr. Rooney was the most famous teenager in America from 1937 to 1944: everybody's cheeky son or younger brother, energetic and feverishly in love with girls and cars. In 1939, America's theater owners voted Mr. Rooney the No. 1 box-office star, over Tyrone Power. That same year he sang and danced his way to an Oscar nomination for best actor in "Babes in Arms," the first of the "Hey kids, let's put on a show" MGM musicals he made with Judy Garland.

Not including the Mickey Maguire shorts, Mr. Rooney made more than 200 movies, earning a total of four Academy Award nominations -- he was nominated for best supporting actor as the fast-talking soldier who dies trying to protect $30,000 he won in a craps game in "The Bold and the Brave" (1956) and as the trainer of a wild Arabian horse in "The Black Stallion" (1979).

He was also nominated for five Emmy Awards and won one, for his performance in the 1981 television movie "Bill" as a developmentally disabled man who has spent most of his life in an institution and must learn to live in the outside world.

Although his career was one of the longest in show business history -- about 90 years separated his first movie from his last -- it was crammed with detours and dead ends. His elfin face and short, stocky body were part of the problem: At 28, with adolescent roles no longer an option and adult roles hard to come by, he said he would give 10 years of his life to be six inches taller. Yet most of his wounds were self-inflicted.

Things began turning around for Mr. Rooney in the 1970s. It took a year to put together the boisterous and proudly old-fashioned burlesque-style revue Sugar Babies, in which Mr. Rooney's co-star was the former MGM hoofer Ann Miller. Mr. Rooney fought over every skit and argued over every song and almost always got things done his way. The show opened on Broadway on Oct. 8, 1979, to rapturous reviews, and this time he did not throw success away.

Sugar Babies ran for three years. A road company with Carol Channing and Robert Morse was not a success -- audiences wanted only one top banana, Mickey Rooney -- so he spent four more years on the road with the show.

For all the ups and downs of Mr. Rooney's life and career, there was one constant: his love of performing. "Growing up in vaudeville," he once said, "made me cognizant of the need to have fun at what you're doing. You can't get it done well without it being fun. And I've never felt that what I do is 'work.'"

Source: The New York Times obituary

ProductionsDate of Productions
The Will Rogers Follies
[Musical, Original]
  • Performer: Mickey Rooney
      Clem Rogers - Replacement
May 01, 1991 - Sep 05, 1993
Sugar Babies
[Musical, Revue, Comedy, Burlesque, Original]
  • Starring: Mickey Rooney [Mickey]
Oct 08, 1979 - Aug 28, 1982
1980 Tony Award® Best Actor in a Musical
Sugar Babies [nominee]
Starring: Mickey Rooney
1980 Theatre World Special Award
winner Mickey Rooney [recipient]
1980 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Sugar Babies [nominee]
Starring: Mickey Rooney
Find out where Mickey Rooney and are credited together