Michael Rooney, son of legendary actor Mickey Rooney, once shared a shocking story of his past — the tragic early death of his mother. The choreographer was only a toddler when the incident happened.
Michael Rooney is the son of former child star Mickey Rooney and Barbara Thomason. He is best known for choreographing one of the best pop videos of the early 2000s, Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out of My Head" music video.
In an interview with Emma Brockes, a Guardian columnist based in New York, Michael opened up about his mom Barbara Thomason, who passed away in January 1966. During the time of the interview, he was choreographing a musical called "Ducktastic!"
Michael Rooney on October 14, 2001 in Los Angeles, CA | Source: Getty Images
STARTING THE INTERVIEW
The interview with Brockes started casually: she introduced herself and admitted that she could not find out which of his father's then-seven wives was his mother. He ended up shrugging this off as if it happened every time.
He shared that his mother was Barbara Thomason, "number five on [Mickey's] list." He went on to say that she was an aspiring actress but that she was no longer alive.
Mickey Rooney in a black-and-white image on September 2, 1988 | Source: Getty Images
HIS MOM'S TRAGIC END
After Brockes apologized for his loss, Michael narrated the tragic story of how his mother's life was cut short. "My mother was murdered," he admitted. Michael was only about three or four when his mom died. At the time, his parents were going through a divorce. He continued:
"My mom was kind of seeing somebody on the side, but then my father and my mother decided to get back together, and the guy my mom was dating wasn't having it."
Mickey Rooney at the 2014 Vanity Fair Oscar Party on March 2, 2014 in West Hollywood, California | Photo: Getty Images
Unfortunately, the guy took the gun that Mickey gave Barbara for protection and shot her in their house. He then turned the gun on himself, and the case was ruled a murder-suicide.
Michael was at home when the incident happened, but he does not remember it at all. "We were scurried out and told we were going to see the movie Mary Poppins," he said. "It wasn't like, oh, your mother's dead upstairs."
Mickey Rooney and Barbara Thomason at the Cocoanut Grove in Hollywood, CA, June 22nd 1962 | Photo: Getty Images
LIVING WITH HIS GRANDPARENTS
In the 1960s, his famous father Mickey was going through a tough time, so his grandparents adopted him and his siblings. Their lives became stable after that.
After a school production of "West Side Story," Michael got into choreography. He then got his first job as an extra on the television series "Fame," following years of training as a dancer.
HIS PARENTS' RELATIONSHIP
Michael's parents, Barbara and Mickey, first met at a nightclub. They were secretly married in Mexico in December 1958. Before becoming the fifth wife of Mickey, Barbara made two low-budget, indie features.
In January 1966, Mickey filed for divorce after learning Barbara was planning to file a lawsuit for separate maintenance. However, in the middle of the proceedings, they wanted to work things out and get back together.
Mickey Rooney at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carter on March 2, 2014, in West Hollywood, California | Source: Getty Images
MICKEY'S REACTION TO THE DEATH
Unfortunately, this was not in the cards for them. In his autobiography, Mickey said this about the tragic death of his ex-wife:
"I died when she did. I am furious at what happened to her."
Mickey Rooney as Oliver Nugent on "One of the Boys" circa 1982 | Source: Getty Images
At the time of his death in April 2014, Mickey had appeared in more than 300 films. He was one of the last surviving stars of the silent film era and was the top box-office attraction from 1939 to 1941.
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