He was born Joe Yule, Jr. His parents were vaudeville performers who brought their toddler on stage when he was only 15 months old. He made his screen debut during the silent era in 1926. The following year he began a series of films playing a boy named Mickey McGuire. By 1932 he changed his name permanently. He kept “Mickey” and made his last name “Rooney.” He could act, sing, dance, and play several musical instruments. He was at home in comedies, dramas, and musicals. By 1939 Mickey Rooney was the number one box office star in America.