Actor

Apr 072014
 

Mickey Rooney Legendary Actor Dies At 93Legendary Actor Mickey Rooney Dead at 93 Rooney Shot to Fame as Andy Hardy and Appeared in More Than 200 Films

A short actor with a long career, Mickey Rooney was the biggest box-office draw in Hollywood in 1939 and spent the next 70 years trying with varying success to make his way back to that pinnacle. Los Angeles Police confirmed that Mr. Rooney died Sunday at 93 years old, the Associated Press reported. He appeared in more than 200 films and was nominated for four Oscars. He started in the silent era and appeared in every decade until the 2010s, a career of nearly unequaled length heightened by the fact that he started in show business as a toddler vaudevillian.
Legendary star Mickey Rooney has died at age 93; George Strait wins entertainer of the year at the Academy of Country Music Awards; Malaysia bans Biblical epic “Noah.”

Mr. Rooney was popular in Mickey McGuire shorts where he starred as a street-wise Irish kid, starting when he was just 7. He shot to fame as Andy Hardy, a frenetic teenager who, the Academy Award committee said in his special juvenile Oscar citation, brought to the screen “the spirit and personification of youth.”

It was 1939, the same year that Mr. Rooney starred opposite Judy Garland in “Babes in Arms,” the first of their “let’s put on a show” teamings and the top-grossing film of the year. Other notables from the period include “Boys Town,” “National Velvet” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

Mr. Rooney’s depictions of sanitized youth flagged as he and the nation moved on after World War II, and it seemed he was destined for the kind of child-star reputation of a Jackie Coogan or Shirley Temple. But he returned in the 1950s as a TV star, continuing his movie career with smallish parts.

He continued acting, working dinner theater at times, in ensuing decades until 1980, when he unexpectedly won the best actor Tony in his Broadway debut in the burlesque musical “Sugar Babies.”

He had by then had eight marriages, including a brief one to Ava Gardner and another to a former Miss Muscle Beach who later died in a murder-suicide with her lover. He had become a born-again Christian. He had lived through bankruptcy, drug dependency and even playing Mr. Yunioshi in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
“I am what most people would call a survivor,” he said at the time.
Born in Brooklyn, he was Joe Yule Jr., son of a vaudevillian actor and a dancer. On stage nearly from the time he could walk, he appeared in a tuxedo as “Sonny Yule” and sang tear-jerking songs from the stage to his mother.

His parents divorced when he was 5, and his mother moved to Hollywood, where he starred as Mickey McGuire, then Andy Hardy. Along the way he changed his name to Mickey Rooney and was soon the toast of moviegoers coast to coast.

Appearing as he did in an era when blackface was common, it is perhaps not surprising that his appeal may be hard to understand today. Mr. Rooney himself wrote in a memoir, “I was a gnomish prodigy—half-human, half-goblin, man-child, child-man—as wise in the ways of comedy as Wallace Beery and twice as cute.” A Wall Street Journal critic once opined, “Any picture with Mickey Rooney is bound to be more funny than otherwise.”

Mr. Rooney took numerous character roles in films and guest TV spots after “Sugar Babies” closed on Broadway. He was in several sequels to “The Black Stallion,” a 1979 film for which he was nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar.
Into his late 80s Mr. Rooney maintained a busy schedule, performing live shows with his eighth wife, Jan Chamberlin, singing songs from old movies and telling stories.

Written by Stephen Miller for The Wall Street Journal

Jun 202013
 

Actor James Gandolfini dead at age 51

By Chelsea J. Carter and JD Cargill, CNN
updated 12:14 AM EDT, Thu June 20, 2013

James Gandolfini, best known for his role as an anxiety-ridden mob boss on HBO’s “The Sopranos,” died Wednesday while on vacation in Italy. He was 51.

The exact cause of death is not known, but his managers said it was possibly a heart attack.

“It is with immense sorrow that we report our client, James Gandolfini. passed away today while on holiday in Rome, Italy,” managers Mark Armstrong and Nancy Sanders said in a joint statement. “Our hearts are shattered and we will miss him deeply. He and his family were part of our family for many years and we are all grieving.”

The actor had been scheduled to make an appearance at the Taormina Film Fest in Sicily this week.

Gandolfini won three Emmy Awards for his portrayal of Tony Soprano, the angst-wracked mob boss who visited a therapist and took Prozac while knocking off people. “The Sopranos” aired from 1999 to 2007.
HBO: Actor James Gandolfini has died
Larry King: ‘Sopranos’ made him a star
Gupta: 51 is young for a heart attack
2007: ‘The Sopranos’ TV legacy

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“Jimmy was the spiritual core of our Sopranos family, and I am stunned at this devastating loss,” said Chris Albrecht, the former president of HBO who gave the green light to the show. “He was a great talent, but an even better man. My thoughts are with his family.”

Actor Steve Van Zandt, who played Tony Soprano’s confidant Silvio Dante, felt equally close to Gandolfini in real life. “I have lost a brother and a best friend,” he posted on Twitter. “The world has lost one of the greatest actors of all time.”

Gandolfini was born September 18, 1961, in Westwood, New Jersey, according to Biography.com.

He graduated from Rutgers University and, as the story goes, worked as a bartender and a bouncer in New York City until he went with a friend to an acting class.

He got his start on Broadway, with a role in the 1992 revival of “A Streetcar Named Desire” with Jessica Lange and Alec Baldwin.

Gandolfini’s big screen debut came in the role of a heavy in the bloody “True Romance” in 1993. His breakthrough on the small screen came in 1999 with the role of Tony Soprano.

“He was a genius. Anyone who saw him even in the smallest of his performances knows that,” David Chase, who developed “The Sopranos,” said in a statement. “…A great deal of that genius resided in those sad eyes.”

Gandolfini, who was notoriously press shy, had a reputation in the tabloids for being sometimes difficult.

“He wasn’t easy sometimes. But he was my partner, he was my brother in ways I can’t explain and never will be able to explain,” Chase said.

While Gandolfini was known for sometimes ruthless, often imposing characters, those who worked with him described an actor who put his heart into a role.

“He was just so good at the emotion. A very passionate man and a very, very tender man,” Matthew Warchus, who directed Gandolfini in the 2009 Broadway play “God of Carnage,” told CNN. “I really loved him and admired him a great deal.”

Larry King, who saw Gandolfini in Las Vegas just weeks ago, told CNN the actor was “jovial and seemed happy.”

“He stamped himself in ‘The Sopranos’ so much, people have overlooked his many diversified roles he’s performed,” King said. “He was a very diverse character actor, who became a star.”
2007: James Gandolfini on the red carpet
Photos: People we lost in 2013 Photos: People we lost in 2013

Gandolfini’s acting credits included roles in “The Last Castle” with Robert Redford, “The Mexican” with Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts and “Surviving Christmas” with Ben Affleck.

In recent years, he had starred in several movies, including the Oscar-nominated “Zero Dark Thirty,” “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3” and “Killing Them Softly.”

Gandolfini was also known to children, voicing Carol, a wild thing, in the 2009 movie adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s classic “Where the Wild Things Are.”

He took to the stage to do a reading of Sendak’s “In The Night Kitchen” to mark the author’s 80th birthday.

News of the actor’s death spread quickly, drawing shock and sadness from those who had worked with him.

“James Gandolfini was a kind, funny, wonderful guy. I’m so lucky to have worked with him. Sending love to his family. Such a sad, sad day,” Olivia Wilde, who starred with the actor in “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,” said in a post on Twitter.

Actor Steve Carell, who also appeared in the movie, simply said on Twitter: “James Gandolfini. What a great loss.”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie described himself as a “huge fan” of Gandolfini.

“It’s an awful shock. James Gandolfini was a fine actor, a Rutgers alum and a true Jersey guy,” he said.

Gandolfini is survived by his wife, Deborah, and their 9-month-old daughter, Liliana. He is also survived by a son, Michael, from another marriage.

CNN’s KJ Matthews, Douglas Hyde, Elise Miller and Henry Hanks contributed to this report.