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Actor Mickey Rooney dies aged 93
Mickey Rooney, a Hollywood legend whose career spanned more than 80 years, has died at the age of 93.
Los Angeles Police Commander Andrew Smith said that Rooney was with his family when he died on April 6 at his North Hollywood home.
He said police took a report but indicated that there was nothing suspicious and it was not a police case and he had no additional details on the circumstances of his death.
It is likely no one in showbusiness history will ever match Rooney's career for sheer length and variety.
He starred in silent comedy shorts, MGM musicals with Judy Garland, the popular Andy Hardy family films, an Emmy-winning TV drama and a Broadway smash, Sugar Babies.
He was nominated for Oscars four times and won two special Oscars.
Rooney started his career in his parents' vaudeville act while still a toddler, and broke into movies before age 10. He was still racking up film and TV credits more than 80 years later.
"I always say, 'Don't retire - inspire,'" he said in March 2008. "There's a lot to be done."
Among his roles in recent years was a part as a guard in the smash 2006 comedy A Night At The Museum.
Rooney reigned from 1939 to 1942 as the number one money-making star in movies, his run only broken when he joined the Army.
"Mickey Rooney, to me, is the closest thing to a genius I ever worked with," Clarence Brown, who directed his Oscar-nominated performance in The Human Comedy, once said.
Rooney's personal life matched his film roles for colour. His first wife was the glamorous Ava Gardner, and he married seven more times, fathering seven sons and four daughters.
Through divorces, money problems and career droughts, he kept returning with customary vigour.
"I've been coming back like a rubber ball for years," he commented in 1979, the year he returned with a character role in The Black Stallion, drawing an Oscar nomination as supporting actor.
Rooney was among the last survivors of Hollywood's studio era, which his career pre-dated. He signed a contract with MGM in 1934 and landed his first big role as Clark Gable as a boy in Manhattan Melodrama.
Rooney was soon earning 300 dollars a week with featured roles in such films as Riff Raff, Little Lord Fauntleroy and most notably, as a brat humbled by Spencer Tracy's Father Flanagan in Boys Town.
The big break came with the wildly popular Andy Hardy series, beginning with A Family Affair.
But Rooney became a cautionary tale for early fame. He earned a reputation for drunken escapades and quickie romances and was unlucky in both money and love. In 1942 he married for the first time, to Gardner, the statuesque MGM beauty. He was 21, she was 19. The marriage ended in a year, and Rooney joined the Army in 1943, spending most of his World War II service entertaining troops.
Rooney returned to Hollywood and disillusionment. His savings had been stolen by a manager and his career was in a nose dive. He made two films at MGM, then his contract was dropped.
"I began to realise how few friends everyone has," he wrote in his second autobiography. "All those Hollywood friends I had in 1938, 1939, 1940 and 1941, when I was the toast of the world, weren't friends at all."
His movie career never regained its pre-war eminence. The Bold And The Brave, a 1956 World War II drama, brought him an Oscar nomination as best supporting actor. But mostly, he played second leads in such films as Off Limits with Bob Hope and The Bridges at Toko-Ri with William Holden. In the early 1960s, he had a wild turn in Breakfast At Tiffany's as Audrey Hepburn's bucktoothed Japanese neighbour.
In 2011, Rooney was in the news again when he testified before Congress about abuse of the elderly, alleging that he was left powerless by a family member who took and misused his money.
"I felt trapped, scared, used and frustrated," Rooney told a special Senate committee considering legislation to curb abuses of senior citizens. "But above all, when a man feels helpless, it's terrible."
That year Rooney sued his stepson Christopher Aber and others on allegations that they tricked him into thinking he was on the brink of poverty while defrauding him out of millions and bullying him into continuing to work. Aber declined comment on the suit except to say, "this lawsuit is not from Mickey Rooney - it's from his conservators who are stealing from him." Both Rooney and his conservator were named as plaintiffs.