The Tragic Death Of Mickey Rooney Jr.

Musician and actor Mickey Rooney Jr. — the oldest son of legendary actor Mickey Rooney – died on July 16 at 77 years old, as confirmed by his long-time partner Chrissie Brown. She said that Mickey Jr. died at their home in Glendale, Arizona. "He was a wonderful man," Brown told The Hollywood Reporter. "The last 18 years with me and my family, he's been an angel." The musician worked closely with Willie Nelson, and appeared onscreen with the country superstar in the '80s films "Honeysuckle Rose" and "Songwriter." Mickey Jr. picked up his musical chops from a family member besides his famous dad. "My grandmother, Nanny Rase, had a ukulele," he told the Riverside Enterprise-Press in 2001. "When I was 11 years old, she asked if I would like her to show me some chords."

Long before his musical career, Mickey Jr. was in the spotlight at a young age when he appeared on the original "The Mickey Mouse Club." Fellow former Mouseketeer, Paul Petersen, reflected on spending time with Mickey Jr. on the celebrated kids show, as the two — along with Tim Rooney — were unceremoniously fired. "Mickey Junior was tall and talented. He could sing, dance and act ... and get in trouble," Petersen wrote on Facebook. "We three were fired for Conduct Unbecoming a Mouse!"

In his post, Petersen also hinted at Mickey Jr.'s tumultuous relationship with his famous father. Sharing his father's name was both a gift and a curse for the actor-turned-musician.

Mickey Rooney Jr. had difficulty with his name

Being the son of Mickey Rooney afforded Mickey Rooner Jr. opportunities, such as meeting several celebrities throughout his childhood. Mickey Jr. specifically remembered meeting Judy Garland around the height of her fame. "So you're Mickey's first-born son," he recalled Garland saying, during a 2001 interview with Riverside Enterprise-Press. "You're a fine-looking young man." Unfortunately, having the same name as his dad came with major drawbacks, which included working "twice as hard" as other performers. 

While sitting down with his brother Tim Rooney for an interview in 1987, the two were asked about the potential difficulties of growing up in the shadow of their father. Tim said it was not too challenging, but Mickey Jr. had a different response. "Timmy probably didn't have the kind of a problem that I did ... I had problems. I wore the name," the country musician said about his childhood. "I got all the ridicule and all the bombastic stuff laid on me cause of my name only."

Besides the double-edged sword of the name recognition, the former child actor also had a tempestuous relationship with his father. In 1974, Mickey Jr. was dating aspiring country singer Jan Chamberlain, and brought her to an event that his dad attended. Eventually, Mickey Sr. wooed Chamberlain when his son was out of town on tour, per The Hollywood Reporter. Mickey Sr. and Chamberlain became serious, and were married in 1978