Mickey Rooney Jr., the eldest of nine children of Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney and one of the original “Mickey Mouse Club” Mouseketeers, died on Saturday. He was 77 years old.
Rooney Jr.’s death was announced on Facebook by Paul Petersen, founder of the child-actor advocacy group A Minor Consideration. No cause of death was given. Longterm partner Chrissy Brown told THR that Rooney Jr. died in his home in Glendale, Arizona.
Rooney Jr. was a pro musician, a gifted guitar and keyboard player who appeared in Willie Nelson’s 1980 musical romantic drama “Honeysuckle Rose” and Alan Rudolph’s 1984 film “Songwriter.”
Rooney Jr. and his brother Tim were hired in 1955 as backup cast on ABC’s “The Mickey Mouse Club,” but they didn’t last long, getting canned over mischief (along with Peterson).
“Mickey Rooney Jr. peacefully passed away this morning in Arizona,” Peterson wrote. “For the past many years, he lived with and was in the care of Chrissie Brown and her family. I first met Mickey, the oldest of nine siblings sired by his famous father when he and Timmy were hired by Disney to be Mouseketeers in 1955. Mickey Junior was tall and talented. He could sing, dance and act … and get in trouble. We three were fired for Conduct Unbecoming a Mouse!”
Rooney Jr. was born in Birmingham, Alabama, where his already famous father was stationed while he toured entertaining troops during World War II. His mother, 1944 Miss Alabama beauty pageant winner Betty Jane Barker, would be the second of the elder Rooney’s eight wives.