Actor Mickey Rooney, who became the United States' biggest movie star while still a brash teenager in the 1930s and later a versatile character actor in a career that spanned 10 decades, died on Sunday, friends and entertainment media said. He was 93.
Mickey Rooney, who developed a reputation as a hard-partying, off-screen brat in his heyday and married eight times, died after a long illness, the TMZ celebrity website said. Show business website Variety also reported his death.
TMZ and Variety did not give a cause of death or say where Mickey Rooney died. A spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
"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.
She said she had worked recently with Mickey Rooney on a film, "The Strange Case of Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde," and he "was as great as ever" during the filming.
Actress Rose Marie, a long-time friend, said he was one of the greatest talents show business had ever had. "I shall miss him and the world shall miss him," she said in a statement.
Mickey Rooney was an entertainer almost from the day he was born in New York on Sept. 23, 1920. His parents, Joe Yule Sr. and Nell, had a vaudeville act and Joe Jr., as he was known then, was not yet 2 years old when he became a part of it, appearing in a miniature tuxedo.
As he grew older, Mickey Rooney added dancing and joke-telling to his stage repertoire before landing his first film role - a cigar-smoking little person in the silent short "Not to Be Trusted."
After his parents split, Mickey Rooney and his mother moved to California where she steered him into a movie career. He was about 7 when he was cast as the title character in the "Mickey McGuire" series of film shorts that ran from 1927 to 1934. Nell even had his name changed to Mickey McGuire before changing the last name again to Rooney when he began getting other roles.
As a teenager, Mickey Rooney was cute, diminutive (he topped out at 5 feet 2 inches (1.6 meters) and bursting with hammy energy. Those attributes served him well when he was cast as the wide-eyed, wise-cracking Andy Hardy in a series of films that would give movie-goers a brief opportunity to forget the lingering woes of the Great Depression in