(RNN) - Mickey Rooney, the freckle-faced, quick-witted child star of stage and screen who went on to have one of Hollywood's longest running careers, has died, according to media reports. He was 93 years old.
Rooney's squeaky clean on-screen image and boyish charm led him to star in more than 200 films, including the Andy Hardy series, one of the longest-running movie franchises.
Born Joe Yule, Jr. in 1920 to vaudeville actors for parents, Rooney was on the road only weeks after his birth. Literally born into showbiz, he grew up in the backstage areas of theaters across the country.
After his parents split up when he was a child, Rooney and his mom headed to Hollywood, but they struggled financially.
He first appeared onscreen in the 1926 film Not to be Trusted, but got his big break in a series of short films for kids in the Mickey McGuire series.
His mother tried to legally name him Mickey McGuire, but only the first name stuck. He'd take the last name Rooney after the series ended in 1934.
Shortly thereafter, he signed with what was then Hollywood's premiere studio, MGM, and went to work churning out pictures, including the Andy Hardy series, which made him a household name.
In 1938, the studio paired him with a then up-and-coming Judy Garland and a legendary on-screen partnership was born.
The all-American boy-girl singing and dancing duo would go onto make nine movies together, including Babes in Arms and Babes on Broadway. They'd also become lifelong friends.
Rooney would become Hollywood's top actor at the box office from 1939-1941.
He married Ava Gardner, his first of eight wives, in 1942, after the pair had only known each other a few months. Not anxious for one of his studio's hottest commodities to turn in his bachelor card, MGM owner Louis B. Mayer tried to stop the marriage but eventually relented.
However, the marriage was short-lived and the pair split a year later.
In 1944, still at the top of his game, Rooney left Hollywood to join the military, serving 21 months in Europe entertaining troops on the front lines. He earned a Bronze Star for his service.
When he came back to the states, it seemed Hollywood had forgotten him. The roles stopped coming like they used to and his child-actor star began to fade now that he was grown.
He starred in his final movie with Garland, Words and Music, in 1948 and his final Andy Hardy movie, Love Laughs at Andy Hardy, in 1946. At 26, Rooney had outgrown the boyish Hardy role.
In 1954, he worked on a short-lived TV show called Hey Mulligan, which was canceled, having the dubious honor of competing in the same time slot as the popular Jackie Gleason Show.
During this time, he collected a few more wives and a few more divorces. His fifth wife, Barbara Ann Thompson, was murdered in 1966 and Rooney spiraled into depression. He also battled gambling and pill addictions.
As he watched his good friend Judy Garland battle the addictions that eventually took her life, he committed to defeating his own, once and for all. He eventually sought help, kicked his demons for good and his life began to turn around.
He married his eighth wife in 1978 and the marriage stuck. He then reluctantly accepted a role in the Broadway show Sugar Babies, the role that revitalized his career.
In 1983, he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Oscar.
He continued to act into his 80s and 90s, appearing in Night at the Museum in 2006 and even making a cameo alongside Kermit the Frog in 2011's The Muppets.
Rooney has four stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one he shares with wife Jan.
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