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Mickey Rooney Said He 'Died' When 5th Wife Was Killed by Her Lover Yet He Married Her Best Friend

Busayo Ogunjimi
Mar 23, 2022
09:20 P.M.
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Veteran Actor Mickey Rooney tragically lost his fifth wife after she was shot dead by an alleged lover to prevent them from reconciling. Rooney, who was heartbroken after the incident, surprisingly married his late wife's friend shortly after.


Mickey Rooney's fifth wife, Carolyn Mitchell, dreamt of being an actress as a youngster, so to make this a reality, she left Phoenix for Los Angeles in 1937. 

While in high school in Inglewood, Mitchell changed her name to Barbara Thomason and started contesting in a bathing suit beauty contest. 

[Left] Mickey Rooney as a young actor, [Right] Mickey Rooney and fifth wife, Carolyn Mitchell with his child| Source: Getty Images


In 1954, at 17, Thomason was named Muscle Beach Queen and started landing modeling gigs afterward. However, her dream was to be an actress, so in 1955, she made her on-screen debut in an episode of "Crossroads," an ABC series.

On August 12, 1958, Thomason made headlines when she allegedly took some pills and was stripped naked and dumped in a pool that belonged to Rooney by her friends. 

Afterward, it was revealed that Rooney and Thomason were just friends, and nothing deeper was going on between the two. At the time, Rooney was married to his fourth wife, actress Elaine Devry.

Rooney around 1940. | Source: Wikimedia Commons.


However, no one was shocked when news emerged that Thomason and Rooney had tied the knot in a secret ceremony. The former subsequently gave up her movie career to become a full-time housewife. 

Between 1959 and 1963, Thomason gave birth to four kids, and it was around this time Rooney declared he was bankrupt and more than 80 percent of his earnings had been paid as taxes.

The actor's financial woes created problems in his marriage to Thomason. To stay afloat, he started taking many movie roles, including traveling to the Philippines to shoot the movie "Ambush Bay."


While he was away, Thomason started an affair with fast-rising actor Milos Milosevic so when Rooney returned from filming in 1965 to discover the affair; he filed for divorce.


After Rooney had filed for divorce, Thomason learned the actor was also seeking to have full custody of their children. So on January 30, 1996, the former model went to see Rooney at the hospital where he was being treated for an intestinal bug.

The couple spoke about their marriage, and Thomason promised her husband she would dump Milosevic so that she and Rooney could try and work out their relationship. Surprisingly the actor agreed to reconcile. 


Actor Mickey Rooney and wife Carolyn Mitchell attend an event in Los Angeles,CA | Source: Getty Images

The mother of four went home accompanied by her friends to tell Milosevic, who had moved in with her in the Rooneys' Brentwood home, that they would need to break up because she planned to reconcile with her husband. 


Milosevic was known for his temper, so no one expected him to take the news kindly, but to their surprise, he remained calm as Thomason relayed the news to him. 

At 8:30 that evening, the pair went to bed together, but the next day when her friend Wilma Catania knocked on their bedroom door, and no one responded, she used a screwdriver to break into their room forcefully. 

American actor Mickey Rooney visits Deauville, France. | Source: Getty Images


She found Thomason and Milosevic dead on the bathroom floor. The former had shot the mother of four under the chin with a gun given to her by Rooney for protection. Milosevic then shot himself in the temple in an apparent murder-suicide.

The kids and a maid were in the house when the tragic incident occurred, but none of them heard the shots. The children could not stay with their father, shaken by the incident, so they were taken to their maternal grandparents. 

A Yank At Eton, US lobbycard, from left: Tina thayer, Mickey Rooney, 1942. | Source: Getty Images



Rooney got hitched the first time when he met young Actress Ava Gardner in 1941 while filming "Babes on Broadway." The actress, aged 19 at the time, could not help but notice her new husband's philandering trait and how he went through women as fast as possible. 

Gardner knew their marriage would not last but did not want to risk her career by claiming she was leaving Rooney because of his adulterous nature. The actress cited incompatibility and left the marriage as fast as she could. 

In 1944 Rooney was in the military and stationed in Alabama, where he met local beauty queen and aspiring singer Betty Jane Baker. The pair were only engaged for seven days before tying the knot. 


Mickey Rooney in West Hollywood, California on March 2, 2014 | Source: Getty Images

Their marriage resulted in two children, Mickey and Tim, but their relationship was not blissful; as Rooney explains, they were not compatible, and he kept her home barefooted and pregnant. 


In 1947 a month after the birth of their second son, Baker revealed she was leaving the marriage and cited mental cruelty as the reason she was divorcing him. Eight days later, she married songwriter and composer, Buddy Baker. 

Just six hours after his marriage to Baker was finalized, Rooney made things official with his third wife, actress Martha Vickers. At the beginning of their marriage, the actor revealed he had got himself a wonderful wife, but two years later, he changed his tune and accused Vickers of drinking too much. 


Their marriage resulted in a child, Theodore Michael Rooney, but only lasted for two years, and Vickers divorced Rooney in 1951, citing extreme cruelty.

After Vickers divorced Rooney, that actor found another wife in Actress Elaine Devry. They had met at a Woodland Hills driving range in 1952 and married in November of the same year in Las Vegas.

Their marriage was rocky initially, and Devry accused the actor of adultery and gambling addictions. As a result, they separated in 1957, and their divorce was finalized a year later. 

Mickey Rooney on January 27, 2008 in Los Angeles, California | Source: Getty Images


Rooney met Barbara Thomason at a nightclub, and the pair married in 1959. They had four kids together before Thomason was killed by her lover Milos Milosevic in 1966. 

Afterward, Rooney found comfort in his late wife's friend Marge Lane, who he had known for more than ten years. The pair married shortly after, but their marriage lasted only 100 days.

The actor met and married his seventh wife, Carolyn Hockett, a secretary, and single mother, in 1969. During their marriage, they became parents to a daughter, Janelle. In 1975 Hockett filed for divorce, citing financial instability.

Mickey Rooney during the 14th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on January 27, 2008 | Photo: Getty Images


In 1974 Rooney met his eighth and final wife, Jan Chamberlin, who was working with his child Mickey Rooney, Jr., then a professional country musician. 

She was introduced to the actor at a party, and even though he was still married to Hockett at the time, Rooney pursued Chamberlain, who was 18 years his junior. 

A year after his divorce from Hockett, the pair married in 1978, and their marriage lasted more than all his previous marriages combined. Their marriage hit a rough patch in 2011, when the actor accused Chamberlin's son, Christopher Aber, of elder abuse. 

Mickey Rooney and his wife Jan in 2000. |Source : Wikimedia Commons.


In his eighties, the actor suffered abuse from Chamberlain and her son. They squandered his money and physically abused him countless times. However, they were separated when the actor died, aged 93, in April 2014 while living in a Studio City rental, with only $18,000 to his name. 


The actor had signed his will a couple of days before his demise, and in the document, he left his modest estate worth just $18 000 to his stepson Mark who had been his caretaker. 

Rooney left the rest of his family out from the will, which also disinherited the actor's eight surviving children and his estranged wife, Jan Chamberlain. 


Actress Margaret O'Brien (2nd from left), City Councilman Tom LaBonge, Hollywood High School Principal Ms. Alejandra Sanchez, Kelly Rooney (daughter of Mickey Rooney), Dominique Rooney (grand daughter of Mickey Rooney) and actress Marsha Hunt with members of the band The Hollywood Kids attend the Mickey Rooney Memorial Square Dedication Ceremony, Sunset Blvd. on June 1, 2015 | Source: Getty Images

However, Chamberlain would receive her husband's social security benefits and some of his pension earnings around $100,000 annually. The actor appointed his lawyer Michael Augustine as the executor of his estate, stating that he did not want any relative to handle his final affairs. 


Augustine also revealed that Rooney wanted to be buried in Hollywood or a veterans' cemetery before his death even though he owned a burial plot in Westlake Village. 


After Rooney's death, Kelly, one of the daughters he shared with his late wife, Thomason, praised her father for being an inspiration in their lives. She and her siblings loved him, and growing up; they realized that his fans loved him, so they had to share him. 

Mickey Rooney and wife Jan Chamberlin on February 26, 2004 | Source: Getty Images


As they became adults, they understood that their father was meant to be an actor since he was a toddler, and the veteran knew nothing else. 

His death was still fresh in her mind, and she missed him very much. Also, Kelly and her late father were very close until the tragic incident that took the life of her mother Thomason, who was shot to death by Milos Milosevic. 

Kelly, who was seven years old at the time of the incident, explained that his mother was not really in love with Milosevic, contrary to the popular story.

Mickey Rooney and wife Jan Chamberlin on February 26, 2004 | Source: Getty Images


She explained that Rooney was only trying to help Milosevic grow his acting career, and the latter ended up falling in love and becoming obsessed with Thomason. 

Kelly declared Rooney and Thomason had a loving relationship, and losing the former when they did, left a hole in all their hearts. 

In conclusion, she was grateful to be her father's daughter, and people always told her she looked just like the late actor. Growing up, she was not sure she loved the comparison, but she was grateful to have had such a wonderful father as an adult.