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1930s & Earlier / Mickey Rooneys Silent Film Days
Mickey Rooney, whose real name was Joseph Yule, began performing at the age of fifteen months as part of his parents' vaudeville routine, wearing a specially tailored tuxedo. His parents separated in 1924. A year later, Mrs Yule moved with Joseph to Hollywood, where she managed a tourist home. Fontaine Fox had placed a newspaper ad for a dark haired child to play the role of "Mickey McGuire" in a series of short silent films, and, lacking the money to have her son's hair dyed, she took him to the audition after applying burnt cork to his scalp. Joseph got the role and became "Mickey" for 78 of the comedies, running from 1927 to 1936, starting with Mickey's Circus, released September 4, 1927. During an interruption in the series in 1932, Mrs. Yule made plans to take her son on a ten week vaudeville tour as "Mickey McGuire", but Fox sued successfully to stop him from using the name. Mrs. Yule suggested the stage name of "Mickey Looney" for her comedian son, which he altered slightly to a less frivolous version. Rooney did other films, including a few more of the McGuire films in his adolescence, and signed with MGM in 1934, where they cast him as the teenage son of a judge in 1937's "A Family Affair", setting Rooney on the way to another successful film series, and the rest is show business history.