Mickey Rooney was one of the most esteemed actors of all time. He appeared in over 300 films, was the top box office draw from 1939 to 1941. And was one of the best-paid actors of his time. During the peak of his career, between the age of 15 and 25, Rooney starred in 43 films.
He’s a remarkably versatile performer who highly celebrated by audiences and critics alike. He got his start acting in vaudeville when he was only 3 and made his big-screen debut at the tender age of 6. When he was 7, Rooney appeared in the first of 78 ‘Mickey McGuire” short subject films. He then went on to become one of the most bankable, sought-after, and reliable actors in the entertainment industry, earning himself countless awards and accolades throughout his cinematic journey.
Mickey Rooney not only had one of the most prolific acting careers in Hollywood throughout the nine decades that he was active, but he also had one wild life. He had dozens of affairs with some of the most famous women of his day, had one heck of a drinking problem, and ended up owing a lot of people money due to his rampant gambling addiction.
He married eight times – with six of these marriages ending in divorce. But that shouldn’t come as that big of a surprise to anyone considering his reputation of being an unapologetic womanizer. He lived fast, partied hard, and didn’t seem to care about the consequences.
Ironically, most people’s first thought when hearing the name Mickey Rooney typically has something to do with his squeaky clean image as Andy Hardy – a character that he portrayed in 16 films between 1937 and 1946. But in reality, Rooney was nothing like the genial Hardy. Ava Gardner, Rooney’s first wife once said that he would go through women like at hot knife through fudge.
He might not have been the most attractive star of his day, but he had something undefinable that made women go weak in the knees. Unfortunately, he was far from being an upstanding, respectful gentleman. The women that Rooney would sleep with – and often marry – were practically disposable in his eyes. When they no longer provided him with the drug-like thrill that he was constantly fiending for, he would hastily toss them in the trash can like yesterdays leftovers.
Join Facts Verse as we look at almost every woman – that we know of at least – that Mickey Rooney hooked up with before his death at the age of 93 in 2014.
This legendary actress was the first of Rooney’s eight wives. She was tall, beautiful, and highly gifted as a performer. Rooney would often date women like her to compensate for his short stature. Standing at five feet two inches tall, Mickey was always very insecure about his diminutive size.
Reflecting on her ex-husbands numerous marriages, Gardner once quipped that there ought to be a ‘Mickey Rooney Former Wives Marching Band”,
Ava was a 19-year-old, up-and-coming starlet when she met Rooney. As soon as Mickey laid his eyes on her, he started pursuing her ceaselessly. Eventually Gardner gave in to Rooney’s advances only to regret it almost immediately.
The two got married in 1942. Just a month after coming home from their honeymoon. Rooney cheated on her with another woman. To add insult to injury, Mickey even hooked up with that girl in his and Gardner’s own bed while Ava hospitalized recovering from appendicitis.
Rooney’s infidelity would end up becoming a recurring theme throughout his life. At one point, a momentarily remorseful Mickey purchased Gardner an enormous diamond to try to make things right, but a little over a week later, he asked her to give it back so that he could pay off some of his gambling debts.
Not only was Mickey Rooney a problem gambler, but he would also often frequent Hollywood Brothels. While Hollywood execs were well aware of his philandering ways, they did everything in their power to prevent the knowledge of his cheating ways becoming a matter of public knowledge. That surely would have been bad for business, and Rooney was after all one of their most valuable assets.
In 1943, Gardner finally decided that enough was enough and kicked Mickey out of their house. Reportedly, before she tossed him to the curb, Rooney had been boasting to his buddies about his various mistresses while Gardner was in the very same room.
Immediately after ditching Rooney, Ava received a visit from MGM fixer Eddie Mannix whose job it was to keep the details of the studio’s stars private lives from showing up in the gossip rags. He explained explicitly to Gardner that if she were to go public with her husband’s behavior, her Hollywood career would essentially be over. To keep her quiet, MGM, gave Gardner’s career a boost by hooking her up with lucrative roles in big-budget films.
Betty Jane Baker
After divorcing Gardner in 1943, Rooney met a young singer named Betty Jane Phillips while he stationed in the military in Alabama.
Baker hailed from Birmingham and was 17 years old when she won the Miss Alabama pageant. From there, she went on to represent her home state in the Miss America competition. The year that she competed in that pageant, 1944, was the same year that she met Rooney. After a brief courtship, the two got married and proceeded to have two children, Tim and Mickey Rooney Jr.
According to the biography The Life and Times of Mickey Rooney by William J. Birnes and Richard A. Lertzman, Betty Jane and Mickey’s marriage unraveled shortly after she walked into her husband’s dressing room only to find him in a ‘compromising’ position with actress Elizabeth Taylor, who was only 14 at the time.
Needless to say, the couple finalized their divorce in 1949.
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This actress, who Rooney married the very same year that he divorced Baker, got her start as model and cover girl. She was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan on May 28, 1925. When she was 15, her family relocated to Hollywood after her father; who previously worked as a used car dealer, assumed control of a modeling agency in Burbank.
Her first film role was in 1943s Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. She went on to appear in a handful of films with RKO, Universal, and Warner Bros. Some of her most notable roles were in films like The Big Sleep, The Time The Place and The Girl, Love and Learn, and That Way with Women; all of which hit theaters in the 40s.
By the 50s, however, Vicker’s movie career had stalled. She would later appear in a number of television shows. Including a 1959 guest-starring bit on Perry Mason, but her career would never really recover. Her final performance was in 1960s The Rebel.
Vickers was married to Mickey Rooney from 1949 to 1951 and had one son with him; but their marriage fell apart after she learned of his infidelity.
Sadly, Vickers died at the relatively young age of 46, succumbing to esophageal cancer on November 2, 1971.
At the age of 35, Rooney married his fourth wife, actress Elaine Devry. The two got hitched in 1952. Just six years later, Devry filed for divorce, citing Mickey’s infidelity and gambling problem as being the primary reasons why their marriage failed.
Devry appeared in several films throughout her career, including 1967s A Guide for the Married Man. She also made several appearances in popular TV shows like Perry Mason, Bonanza, I Dream of Jeannie, Marcus Welby M.D., Dragnet, and My Three Sons.
At the age of 92, Devry is enjoying her retirement at her ranch home in Oregon.
Barbara Ann Thomason
This model and actress married Rooney in 1958. The couple had four children. Tragically, she was brutally murdered in 1966 by a Yugoslavian Hollywood actor and stuntman named Milos Milos, who shot her before turning the gun on himself.
After learning that her husband had been having an affair behind her back, Thomason decided that she might as well have one herself. Thomason and Milos started having their affair while Rooney was away traveling for work. Law Enforcement theorized that he killed her after Thomason told him that she wanted to end things.
Lane was Barbara Thomason’s best friend. She and Rooney tied the knot just months after Thomason had been murdered, but their marriage proved to be Rooney’s shortest – only lasting 100 days. When talking about his sixth wife, Rooney once reportedly said ‘Marge – I think that was her name’.
Rooney Married Hockett at a Las Vegas chapel in 1969 when she was 25 and he was 48. They had a child in 1970, and Rooney adopted one of Hockett’s son’s from a previous marriage named, Jimmy.
Their marriage ended in divorce in 1975.
Roooney’s eighth and final marriage was to singer Jan Chamberlain. They exchanged vows in 1978 and would remain married until Mickey’s death in 2014. Their relationship hit a rough patch in 2011 after Rooney accused her son of elder abuse. They separated in May of 2013 and were apparently estranged at the time of Mickey’s passing. Regardless, Chamberlain proved to be the woman whom Rooney was married to the longest of all his marriages.
Well, that about wraps up this video, but we’d love to hear your take on things.
Did you know that Mickey Rooney was married eight times and cheated on his wives repeatedly throughout his 93 years of life? And were you aware of the fact that his fifth wife, Barbara Thomason, was married in 1966? Let us know in the comments.
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