Skip to main content

With not much in Mickey Rooney's estate, fight possible over his remains

By Alan Duke, CNN
updated 9:15 PM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
Mickey Rooney, who started as a child star in vaudeville and went on to star in hundreds of movies and TV shows, has died at the age of 93. Mickey Rooney, who started as a child star in vaudeville and went on to star in hundreds of movies and TV shows, has died at the age of 93.
HIDE CAPTION
The long career of Mickey Rooney
The long career of Mickey Rooney
The long career of Mickey Rooney
The long career of Mickey Rooney
The long career of Mickey Rooney
The long career of Mickey Rooney
The long career of Mickey Rooney
The long career of Mickey Rooney
The long career of Mickey Rooney
The long career of Mickey Rooney
The long career of Mickey Rooney
The long career of Mickey Rooney
The long career of Mickey Rooney
The long career of Mickey Rooney
The long career of Mickey Rooney
The long career of Mickey Rooney
The long career of Mickey Rooney
The long career of Mickey Rooney
The long career of Mickey Rooney
The long career of Mickey Rooney
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Rooney's lawyer doubts a deal can be reached out of court on where he'll be buried
  • Rooney's wife is the only person with authority to claim his body, her lawyer says
  • A hearing is set for Friday to decide who controls remains
  • Rooney left his estate to stepson Mark Rooney

Los Angeles (CNN) -- Actor Mickey Rooney did not want to be buried in a cemetery plot he bought years ago, before splitting with his wife, his lawyer said Wednesday.

Rooney, who died of natural causes at age 93 on Sunday, also did not want his stepson Chris Aber to attend his funeral, attorney Michael Augustine said.

Rooney's wishes are the basis for a looming court fight over who controls the legendary actor's remains and makes funeral and burial decisions, Augustine said.

While Rooney disinherited his children, his wife and all but one of her children in a will he signed just weeks before his death, court papers suggest there is not much in his estate to fight over. His personal property is valued at just $18,000 despite an unmatched 90-year film career.

Actor Mickey Rooney dies at 93
Remembering Hollywood star Mickey Rooney

Augustine, who served as Rooney's conservator, said in a court filing that he believed Rooney's estranged wife, Jan Rooney, and her son, Christopher Aber, would attempt to remove Rooney's body from Forest Lawn Memorial Park's mortuary.

A Los Angeles judge signed a handwritten order Tuesday preventing anyone from removing Rooney's remains until he holds a hearing on Friday. Augustine, who is named as estate executor in the will, is asking for that authority.

Attorney Yevgeny Belous, who works with lawyer Mitchell Karasov to represent Jan Rooney, said she is the only person with authority to make the decisions.

Lawyers for both sides are "working toward the mutual goal of honoring Mickey," perhaps with an agreement on funeral and burial arrangements, before Friday's hearing, Belous said. "We want Mickey to have a proper ceremony," he said. "We don't want to drag this into a fight."

Rooney already purchased burial plots in a cemetery in the Westlake Village area of Los Angeles County. In fact, Rooney's mother was moved there years ago so the family would be together, Belous said.

Augustine said Rooney told him shortly before his death that he no longer wanted to be buried in the plot he purchased 15 years earlier. "Substantial intervening events" in the years since changed his wishes, but Rooney's lack of cash prevented him from purchasing a new burial plot, he said.

Rooney expressed a desire to be interred at either a veteran's cemetery or a Hollywood cemetery with other stars. Hollywood Forever, the final resting place for Rudolph Valentino, Cecil B. DeMille and a long list of long gone show biz A-listers, is one possibility, Augustine said.

Augustine said he doubts a deal can be made before the judge imposes a decision, since he is demanding that Aber be banned from the funeral because of Mickey Rooney's severe dislike for the stepson who previously managed him.

Rooney won a $2.8 million judgment against Aber in a lawsuit that included accusations of elder abuse. Aber has yet to pay the judgment, Augustine said.

Jan Rooney signed an agreement waiving all claims to her husband's estate after the couple separated in June 2012 after 34 years of marriage, according to a court filing. She will benefit from Rooney's Social Security and other pensions totaling $8,400 a month, Augustine said.

While Rooney was the highest paid actor in Hollywood 70 years ago, his personal property totaled just $18,000, according to documents accompanying his will.

Rooney: A spokesman against elder abuse

The will signed by Rooney on March 11, 2014, left the entire estate to stepson Mark Rooney, one of Jan Rooney's sons, who was the actor's caretaker the last two years of his life.

Rooney "intentionally omitted" and disinherited his eight surviving biological children and two other stepchildren from his last marriage, the will said.

Rooney had no negative feelings toward his surviving children, but they were all financially better off than he was, Augustine said. He believed what little he had to leave should go to Mark Rooney and his wife, because they had been taking good care of him in the final two years, Augustine said.

None of the others "ever changed one of Mickey's Depends," Augustine said.

A probate hearing is scheduled for May 12 to start the process of probating the actor's will.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 7:08 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
Click through our gallery to remember those we lost this year.
updated 6:26 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
The creator of "Clifford the Big Red Dog," has died, according to his publisher, Scholastic.
updated 9:59 PM EST, Thu December 11, 2014
Legendary photographer Michel du Cille, a 26-year veteran of The Washington Post, unexpectedly died while on assignment in Liberia.
updated 6:26 AM EST, Wed December 10, 2014
Mary Ann Mobley, who was the first Mississippian to be crowned Miss America and then went on to a successful movie career, has died at 77.
updated 4:35 PM EST, Wed December 10, 2014
Ken Weatherwax, who played Pugsley on the 1960s TV show "The Addams Family," has died at 59.
updated 7:51 PM EST, Wed December 3, 2014
Ian McLagan, the Faces keyboardist who also played on records by artists like the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen, has died at 69.
updated 7:27 PM EST, Tue December 2, 2014
American saxophonist Bobby Keys, who for years toured and recorded with the Rolling Stones, has died.
updated 7:57 PM EST, Fri November 28, 2014
Roberto Gomez Bolanos gained fame as a comedian, but he was also a writer, actor, screenwriter, songwriter, film director and TV producer.
updated 3:40 PM EST, Fri November 28, 2014
Ryan Knight, a cast member on MTV's "Real World: New Orleans," has died at age 28.
updated 10:49 AM EST, Thu November 27, 2014
P.D. James, the British novelist renowned for her crime novels featuring detective Adam Dalgliesh as well as such works as "The Children of Men," has died at age 94.
updated 3:38 PM EST, Wed November 26, 2014
A file picture taken on August 20, 2001 shows Lebanese popular singer Sabah displaying her medal after being honored at the opening of the 7th Cairo International Song festival in Cairo. Famed Lebanese singer and actress Sabah, whose seven-decade career made her one of the Arab world's best-known entertainers, died on November 26, 2014 at the age of 87, state media announced.
Lebanese singer and actress Sabah, died in Beirut. She was 87.
updated 4:18 PM EST, Sun November 23, 2014
Former Washington Mayor Marion Barry has died at age 78.
updated 4:56 PM EST, Fri November 14, 2014
Diem Brown, the MTV reality star whose fight against cancer was an inspiration to many, lost that long battle on Friday. She was 32.
updated 6:40 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
Mike Nichols, the award-winning director and pioneering comedian who was one of the few people to win an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony award, has died at 83.
updated 9:13 AM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
Jimmy Ruffin, silky-voiced singer of the Motown classic "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted," died in Las Vegas at 78.
updated 2:04 PM EST, Sun November 16, 2014
Prolific television producer Glen Larson passed away at the age of 77 after a battle with cancer. He produced many popular shows, including "Knight Rider" and "Battlestar Galactica."
updated 4:56 PM EST, Fri November 14, 2014
Diem Brown, the MTV reality star whose fight against cancer was an inspiration to many, lost that long battle at the age of 32.
updated 9:24 PM EST, Fri November 14, 2014
Former Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne -- the first and, even now, only woman to lead that city -- has died.
updated 6:12 AM EST, Thu November 13, 2014
Actress Carol Ann Susi, whose brash Brooklyn accent reverberated on the hit television series "The Big Bang Theory," has died after a battle with cancer.
ADVERTISEMENT