Mickey Rooney Called His 7 Ex-wives ‘Sprinters’

Mickey Rooney was admired by many, onscreen and offscreen. He was an exceptional actor and one of MGM’s megastars. However, the actor could not hold his marriages with the same passion.

Mickey Rooney did not possess the stunning handsomeness of a Hollywood bad boy, but his confidence was 100%. He was about 5ft tall with a delightful poise and thrilling aura.

Rooney made history with his peculiar looks that blended greatly with an undiluted passion for serving his audience nothing short of the best. The actor was admired by many who were inspired by his talent and personal affairs.

Jan Rooney and Mickey Rooney attends the Chiller Theatre Expo at the Hilton Parsippany on October 31, 2009 [left], Mickey Rooney as Oliver Nugent, 1982 [right] | Photo: Getty Images

He showed consistency in his work and romance. He was married eight times to different women. In the end, he fathered nine children, two stepchildren, and four grandkids before his demise at 93.

Despite what would have been a heartbreak following his many divorces, the actor had good remarks about his former partners, whom he referred to as “Sprinters.”

Mickey Rooney at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carter on March 2, 2014 | Photo: Getty Images


The spectacular actor was born in Brooklyn to parents who performed stage acts. His birth name was Joe Yule Jr., and when he turned 6, he became involved in a production where he starred as a little person.

Rooney later appeared as Mickey McGuire in seventy-eight short films, following his mother’s urge for him to appear on the big screens.

After she divorced her husband, the young woman moved with her son to Hollywood, where she molded him and got him a life-changing deal.

Mickey Rooney during the 14th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on January 27, 2008 | Photo: Getty Images


At age 14, Rooney was a member of the MGM family. Three years later, he bagged the role of Andy Hardy and acted alongside the terrific Judy Garland.

Together, the teens made history for their film companies through their impressive performances and became two of America’s most beloved onscreen characters.


Life offscreen was different from the American boy next door character he played on TV. Rooney loved beautiful and talented women. But, whether he often fell in love too quickly or felt the urge to commit, most of the relationships ended in marriage.

Mickey Rooney and wife Jan Chamberlin on February 26, 2004 | Photo: Getty Images

He was married eight times, and he divorced seven times. Wife number eight seems to have charmed him as Rooney remained married to her until his death in 2014.

More than a decade before he passed away, the movie genius delved into his past relationships. While speaking about his ex-wives, be implored that it was challenging for their relationship to last because of their personalities. He said:

“My partners weren’t what we call in horse racing, parlance routers. They were sprinters, they went out of the gate, but then they stopped. They couldn’t go the distance.”

Jan and Mickey Rooney at the 81st Annual Academy Awards on February 22, 2009 | Photo: Getty Images

Rooney highlighted a problem with one of his young wives; he explained that she did not enjoy his love for golf and ponies, so she proceeded to end the union suddenly, without remorse.

With his second bride, the actor believed they were never compatible because she never concerned herself with the affairs outside their home. He also had similar problems with the next three women that came along.

His fifth wife was a beauty queen, and their marriage was rocked by infidelity on both ends. She eventually died in a murder-suicide scene, and her grieving husband rebounded with her friend in a 100-day marriage. 

Mickey Rooney in a black-and-white image on September 2, 1988 | Photo: Getty Images


The first woman he tied the knot with was the gorgeous Ava Gardener. He fell in love with her at first sight. But their marriage failed following the actor’s inner demons. According to his autobiography, he could not control his obsession with gambling, cheating, and working.

Betty Jane Phillips was his second wife with whom he shared two kids. Their marriage lasted for five years, and shortly after the divorce, Phillips married Buddy Baker, a musician.

Martha Vickers, the fourth wife, was married to Rooney for two years. She was modeling in Hollywood when they met. Before parting ways, the couple welcomed a son named Teddy.

Mickey Rooney as Oliver Nugent on “One of the Boys” circa 1982 | Photo: Getty Images

By 1952, Rooney met Elaine Devry, whom he married that same year. Six years later, they left each other after meeting their perfect matches. The actor then married his mistress, Barbara Ann Thomason.

Everything appeared great with Thomason, who was pregnant before their marriage. But a few years later, her husband continued to cheat and she too soon found herself in the same pool. She got involved with a Yugoslavian actor, Milo Milosevic.

Unfortunately, the lovers died when Milosevic shot his partner because he caught wind of a possible reconciliation between her and Rooney. That same year, Rooney tied the knot with Marge Lane.

Mickey Rooney in West Hollywood, California on March 2, 2014 | Photo: Getty Images

Carolyn Hackett was the last bride he divorced. There was a nearly twenty-year age gap between them when they exchanged vows at a Las Vegas wedding in 1969. The following year, they had a child but divorced in 1975.

Jan Chamberlin was the woman who broke the jinx. She was introduced to Rooney while working with a professional musician, and the two hit it off almost immediately. 

By 1978, they were married, and Rooney admitted that their union lasted longer than the previous ones because she allowed him to assume the role of a boss.

Mickey Rooney in Los Angeles, California on January 27, 2008 | Photo: Getty Images


A few years before he took his last breath, the media confirmed that the actor had lived a painful life and suffered abuse at the hands of his wife and mother of his two sons. Chamberlin’s son, Chris Aber, admitted that she once kicked the iconic actor fiercely under the table.

This behavior did not appear to be a strange one for Aber, who playfully revealed the turmoil the aged actor faced. A few weeks after the interview, the then 52-year-old Chamberlin was issued a restraining order.

Mickey Rooney and his wife Jan in 2000. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The legal papers which were signed by Rooney disclosed that Chamberlin financially exploited the veteran actor as his business manager.

In court, Rooney tearfully mentioned that he was not allowed to make decisions, no matter how insignificant, for himself (he could not buy food or medicine and had no ID on him).

He never confided in anyone about the abuse because he was embarrassed; he also could not share his problems and kept them hidden for many years due to the fear that he might get hurt.

Chamberlin denied the accusations but confirmed that they often had altercations like typical couples did, which resulted in them shoving each other. However, they always made up after a fight.

This perspective was questioned after Hector Garcia, scheduled to look after the actor by the court, recounted his side of the story. Garcia explained that he once heard shouts and abusive sounds in the house, only to discover that Chamberlin was standing above her husband, who sprawled on the floor.

When confronted, Chamberlin stated that Rooney only learns when he gets hit like a child. This type of behavior was again confirmed by family members who believe the actor’s wife was abusive.


Two years before Rooney died, he separated from his wife. Hence, when he died and his will surfaced, it was not all that surprising that there was nothing for her.

The actor had left his fortune in the hands of one of her stepsons with nothing for Chamberlin or his other kids. This was a decision Chamberlin contested even though it was only an $18,000 fortune for such a grand actor.

The only benefactor of the will was Mark, who took care of the onscreen star before his demise. Rooney’s other kids did not need the extra money, as they are doing tremendously well in terms of finances.

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