In Memoriam

Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in 1939

Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in 1939. (Photo by Harold E. Edgerton, © The Harold E. Edgerton 1992 Trust, courtesy of Palm Press, Inc.)

Mickey Rooney (born Joseph Yule, Jr.; September 23, 1920 – April 6, 2014) was an American film actor and entertainer whose film, television, and stage appearances spanned almost his entire lifetime. Rooney had one of the longest careers in cinematic history; he first appeared on film in 1927 and made his last appearance in 2014. The National Portrait Gallery has installed a photograph of Rooney with frequent co-star Judy Garland. The photograph was created by Harold E. Edgerton in 1939. It will be on view in a first-floor space that is designated for remembrance of recently deceased people represented in the museum’s collection.

Born into a vaudeville family, Rooney took the stage as a toddler and began making movies at age five. Over the course of a 10-decade career, he made more than 300 films, ending with “The Muppets” (2011). “A Family Affair” (1937), the first of nearly 20 movies in the Andy Hardy series, launched Rooney as the top box-office star in 1939, 1940 and 1941; he also won a juvenile Academy Award for “Boys Town” (1938). Rooney and Garland co-starred in a series of highly popular movie musicals, including“Babes in Arms” (1939). “We weren’t just a team,” he said, “we were magic.”

Rooney’s films included “National Velvet” (1944), “Requiem for a Heavyweight” (1962), and “The Black Stallion” (1979). He received a Tony nomination for his exuberant performance with Ann Miller in “Sugar Babies” on Broadway (1979).

Rooney was married eight times and had nine children. He received several awards over the course of his career, including a Lifetime Achievement Academy Award in 1982. Until his death, he was one of the last surviving stars who had worked in the silent era of film.

Posted: 9 April 2014
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