One of the biggest stars in Hollywood back in the day spent his last years amid a nightmare of abuse and humiliation by those who were supposed to love him and care for him.
Mickey Rooney was one of the most brilliant child stars in the 1930s and 1940s. He received an Academy Award at such a young age, making him one of the very few to do so.
Given that he was one of the highest-paid stars in the entertainment industry for years, he earned millions of dollars throughout his career. However, when he passed away, he left nothing to his children and did not have enough to pay for his funeral.
A studio portrait of American actor Mickey Rooney, circa 1945. (L), Mickey Rooney attends the AMPAS Presents The Last 70mm Film Festival Series – “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” cast & crew reunion at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on July 9, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California. (R) | Photo: Getty Images
HE HAD NOTHING TO LEAVE TO HIS CHILDREN
When he died in 2014, Rooney left only an estate of $18,000 and some tax accounts payable. He died in a rental house in the company of his stepson Mark Rooney and his wife, the only ones who inherited his money as a way to say “thank you” for their care at the end of their life.
Rooney reportedly wrote a new testament a few months before he died where he left all his money to his stepson Mark and left nothing to his eight biological children or his wife Jan, from whom he was separated and living apart but still married.
Mickey Rooney and his wife Jan in 2000. Image: Wikimedia Commons.
HE CLAIMED TO HAVE SUFFERED ELDER ABUSE
Several independent investigations from reporters eager to know the truth about the legend of cinema in Hollywood led Rooney to testify in front of a Senate committee in Washington D.C. and before Herb Kohl, Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging Issues.
There, he declared that he suffered abuse for years. This was disclosed following a confession made by Rooney to one of the Disney executives while filming his part in the franchise “A Night at the Museum,” in which the actor said he was not allowed to make the smallest decisions about his life.
Rooney around 1940. Image: Wikimedia Commons.
Rooney’s lawyer and curator, Michael Augustine, worked with him to try and get his estate back. He was also the executor of Rooney’s estate upon his death, as he did not want relatives handling his final affairs.
Augustine previously accused Christopher of stealing $2.8 million from Rooney’s estate. According to an insider, Christopher had not seen or spoken to Mickey in the past three years before his death. In fact, he wasn’t allowed near the actor.
Rooney died aged 93 after he had difficulty breathing during one of his afternoon naps. At the time, he was in good spirits and was even looking forward to working on movies, such as a scene for “Night at the Museum.”
His cause of death was of natural causes, with complications related to diabetes. The police saw no signs of foul play and said an investigation was not necessary. Unfortunately, he was left in the mortuary for days as his family argued over his estate and his burial.
HIS FINANCES WERE DEPLETED
Unfortunately, despite being a Hollywood great, Rooney died too poor to pay for his funeral. Although he had over 300 acting credits, his money ended up in the hands of his stepson, and Hollywood studios had to pay for his funeral.
After everything he’s been through, Rooney now rests in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery alongside other industry greats like Chaplin, Rudolph Valentino, and Jayne Mansfield. It was revealed that this had been the actor’s final wish.
Mickey Rooney on March 2, 2014 in West Hollywood, California | Photo: Getty Images
While his funeral arrangements were being made, a restraining order had been put on his body for 48 hours, as Jan and her children did not trust one another. At the time, Augustine and Jan were arguing about where Rooney should be buried.
However, in the end, Augustine stated that he was only fulfilling his friend’s wish to be buried in Hollywood. During the funeral, a judge ruled that Jan and Chris could not attend the burial services.
THE AFTERMATH OF HIS DEATH
A month prior to his death, he signed a new will that wrote his stepson Mark and his wife would be the sole beneficiaries of his estate. Unfortunately, despite working so hard, Rooney lost most of his money due to elder abuse and financial mismanagement by Jen and his other stepson Christopher.
On top of that, his estranged wife received his Social Security benefits and pension earnings due to a previous agreement they had. At the time, his lawyer claimed that Rooney believed his children were financially stable, even more than him, which is why he left them with no inheritance.
Rooney was born Joseph Yule Jr., the only child of a burlesque performer and a poor chorus girl. They split up when he was only four, and he moved from Brooklyn to Hollywood.
While in LA, he tried his best to make it. He made his big-screen debut in 1926 and remained an active figure in the entertainment industry eight decades later.
The Hollywood legend was a star, playing several iconic roles. He starred in the “Andy Hardy” franchise, classics like “National Velvet” and “Boys Town,” and many more.
Mickey Rooney on January 27, 2008 in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Getty Images
He was one of the youngest ever to win an Oscar and was awarded a juvenile Oscar. In the next five years, he was nominated for two Academy Awards. He received two more nominations in his career, and also picked up an honorary Oscar in 1983.
Although Rooney’s end was unfortunate due to the abuses and misfortunes he had to undergo in the hands of his supposed loved ones, people in the industry regarded him as a legend. In fact, thespian Laurence Olivier once said Rooney was the “best there has ever been.”