Skip to main content

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

By Alan Duke, CNN
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 0115 GMT (0915 HKT)
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
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 1647 GMT (0047 HKT)
Click through our gallery to remember those we lost this year.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
Actress Skye McCole Bartusiak, who played Mel Gibson's youngest daughter in "The Patriot," has died at age 21.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1334 GMT (2134 HKT)
James Garner, the understated, wisecracking everyman actor who enjoyed multi-generational success on both the small and big screen, has died. He was 86.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1127 GMT (1927 HKT)
Actress Elaine Stritch, known for her brash persona, gravelly voice and versatility over seven decades on Broadway, has died at age 89.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1628 GMT (0028 HKT)
American blues guitarist and singer Johnny Winter died in a hotel room in Switzerland at age 70.
July 14, 2014 -- Updated 2159 GMT (0559 HKT)
Nadine Gordimer, the Nobel Prize-winning South African author and anti-apartheid activist, has died at age 90.
July 13, 2014 -- Updated 1903 GMT (0303 HKT)
Grammy-winning jazz bassist Charlie Haden, whose music career spanned seven decades and several genres, has died at age 76.
July 13, 2014 -- Updated 2030 GMT (0430 HKT)
Renowned conductor Lorin Maazel died from complications of pneumonia at age 84.
July 13, 2014 -- Updated 1350 GMT (2150 HKT)
Drummer Tommy Ramone was 65 and the last living original member of The Ramones. Ramone was also one of the band's composers.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 2321 GMT (0721 HKT)
Rosemary Murphy, an Emmy Award-winning actress, has died. She was 89.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 2259 GMT (0659 HKT)
"Harry Potter" actor David Legeno has died at age 50, a California sheriff's office said.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 0017 GMT (0817 HKT)
Eileen Ford, who founded Ford Model Agency 70 years ago and helped modernize the modeling industry, has died at the age of 92.
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 1928 GMT (0328 HKT)
The actor who gave voice to Pinocchio in Walt Disney's 1940 animation movie has died. He was 87.
July 7, 2014 -- Updated 2033 GMT (0433 HKT)
Eduard Shevardnadze, whose political career seesawed between two extremes, has died at age 86.
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 1306 GMT (2106 HKT)
Former Real Madrid star Alfredo Di Stefano, widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, has died at the age of 88.
July 4, 2014 -- Updated 2245 GMT (0645 HKT)
Richard Mellon Scaife, the billionaire publisher and banking heir who financed conservative causes that included attempts to discredit Bill Clinton while he was president, has died.
July 3, 2014 -- Updated 1939 GMT (0339 HKT)
Louis Zamperini, the Olympic runner and World War II officer who survived a horrific plane crash, a seven-week raft journey, near starvation and unspeakable torture, has died at age 97.
July 3, 2014 -- Updated 1323 GMT (2123 HKT)
Walter Dean Myers, a beloved author of children's books, died following a brief illness. He was 76.
ADVERTISEMENT