At the height of a career that was marked by precipitous declines and raging comebacks, he played the role of Andy Hardy in a series of fifteen films in the 1930s and 1940s that epitomized American family values. A prolific talent, he became a noted character actor later in his career, and could sing, dance, clown and play various musical instruments. Laurence Olivier once said he considered Rooney "the greatest actor of them all", and Clarence Brown, who directed him in two of his earliest dramatic roles, National Velvet and The Human Comedy, said he was "the closest thing to a genius I ever worked with."
Rooney first performed in vaudeville as a child and made his film debut at age six.
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