On the big screen, he played the all-American teenager, Andy Hardy. But in real life, Mickey Rooney was a philandering boozehound with a sick taste for underage girls!
He was also a compulsive gambler whose fondness for the ponies might have – if not for his fame – earned him a pair of cement shoes!
Those bombshell revelations appear in the upcoming book, “The Life and Times of Mickey Rooney,” and The National ENQUIRER has an exclusive sneak peek!
More shocking disclosures about Mickey, who died at age 93 in April 2014, include:
- Even in his early 20s, Mickey was the complete opposite of the aw-shucks character that made him famous.
- Execs at MGM Studios knew Mickey’s secrets, and were desperate to keep the public from learning the truth about their top-earning star!
- The studio paid a PR man to shadow Mickey and keep his sleazy antics out of the gossip columns.
- Just one month after Mickey’s honeymoon with first wife Ava Gardner, the 19-year-old sex siren discovered he’d seduced another woman in their marital bed. She had been recuperating from an inflamed appendix in the hospital at the time.
Ava later said: “He was just a lecherous sod who loved getting his rocks off.”
To make up for his cheating, Mickey bought Ava a huge diamond sparkler. But a week later he demanded that she give the rock back to pay off his bookies!
Their marriage all but ended when actor Peter Lawford told Ava that Mickey had slept with a 15-year-old girl.
“I liked him but he was a terrible gossip,” Ava said of Peter. “It was a mistake to tell Peter Lawford anything.”
According to the book, famously hard-drinking Ava didn’t start hitting the hooch in earnest until she discovered Mickey was a serial cheater!
When Ava was set to file for divorce, legendary Hollywood fixer Eddie Mannix “chillingly” told her to keep her mouth shut about Mickey’s bed-hopping, threatening, “You’ll be finished at this studio” and movies in general.
The actor’s second marriage, to Betty Jane Rase, was no better, ending when Betty – pregnant with Mickey Jr. – burst into his dressing room to find Mickey engaged in a sex act with then 14-year-old Elizabeth Taylor!
The book’s authors, Richard A. Lertzman and William J. Birnes, also wrote that MGM helped fund a tony Hollywood brothel, where the working girls were surgically altered to resemble famous actresses. Mickey’s first visit came courtesy of famed comic Milton Berle, but he enjoyed himself so much that he became a regular!
“It was amazing,” Mickey said, per the book.
“Every girl looked like a film star. Clara Bow, Jean Harlow, Greta Garbo, Norma Shearer. They were dead ringers.”
Mickey was also in constant hock to his bookies, and even sparked the ire of the mob several times! Recalling a 1949 jaunt to Las Vegas, actor Wally Cassell said: “Mickey blew about five grand and he couldn’t cover his markers … well, these weren’t the type of guys he could screw with.
“Mickey was flat broke. So I got the markers back for him after I talked to the boys. They knew who he was, and it would be bad business for them to go out and put Andy Hardy in a cement block.”
But, per the book, Mickey didn’t learn his lesson! In 1957, he lost over $50,000 at the mob-backed Riviera Casino in Las Vegas, and cursed out the audience during a performance there.
A year later, hotel boss Gus Greenbaum, “who took the blame for Mickey’s actions,” was found decapitated with his wife in Arizona.
“Countless people who have met Mickey have found his behavior reprehensible,” said the book’s authors. “He could be not only crude and vulgar, but also a quarrelsome drunk; a shameless womanizer, especially when he was chasing underage girls; and a reprobate who spent too much time on the phone with his bookies.
“Was it possible … the only real Mickey Rooney was the guy who was on for the audience, on for the camera, or on for each of his wives and friends – until he was off?
“Was there no real person inside the created character that was Mickey Rooney? Simply put, was the secret of Mickey Rooney that there was no Mickey Rooney?”