TIME put the "rope-haired, kazoo-voiced kid with a comic-strip face" on its cover in 1940, when he was one of the biggest stars in Tinseltown. In 1942 he married gorgeous "Hollywood newcomer" Ava Gardner, who, like Rooney, was under contract with MGM, but their marriage ended the next year. Rooney went on to snag seven more wives, one of whom was murdered. Gardner, incidentally, eventually married Artie Shaw, Lana Turner's ex. "Mickey never was one to settle down, which explains his eight marriages," states the bio on the now 89-year-old actor's website. But he's been married to current wife Jan Chamberlin, nearly 20 years his junior, since 1978.
He's joked that he's "the only man who has a marriage license made out 'To Whom It May Concern.' " But then, he also said, "Nobody's proud about having eight wives ... You're supposed to marry your childhood sweetheart and go off into the sunset with a box of Duz, saying, 'It's forever, darling.' It doesn't work out like that, and every marriage and every divorce are like a five-car crash."
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