The death of Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney on Sunday at 93 didn't just prompt career retrospectives — it also set off a bitter and messy family dispute over his remains.
But family members who had been at loggerheads over the body of Mickey Rooney have reached an agreement on where and how the actor should be buried, attorneys said Thursday.
Rooney — who had a prolific film career dating back to the silent era — will be buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery alongside other screen legends like Douglas Fairbanks, Cecil B. DeMille and Jayne Mansfield, the parties in the dispute agreed Thursday, according to court documents obtained by NBC News.
The announcement came ahead of a court hearing slated for Friday morning. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James Steele was to decide whether Rooney's remains would be released from a mortuary to his estranged wife, Janice Rooney, who wanted to inter him in a pre-arranged family plot, or to his conservator, Michael Augustine, who had said the actor wished to be buried at Hollywood Forever.
The agreement Thursday sidesteps a potentially costly and arduous court battle.
"Despite her strong desire to be buried beside her husband, Jan feels she owes it to Mickey's fans to work with Mike to allow Mickey to be buried alongside of (sic) other members of Hollywood royalty," Augustine and Janice Rooney said in a joint statement Thursday.
The dispute began after Rooney’s lawyers filed a will revealing that the actor left his estate of only $18,000 to a stepson, Mark Aber, and his wife, Charlene, who had served as his primary caretakers. Rooney was living with them when he died.
A copy of the will obtained by NBC News disinherits Janice, Rooney's wife of 35 years, and his nine children.
In 2011, Rooney sued Christopher and Christina Aber — Rooney's wife's biological son and wife — for elder abuse, claiming they stole money and deprived him of food and medications and would not let him leave his home. The couple settled the case in October after admitting taking $2.8 million from the actor’s accounts.
Augustine and Janice Rooney will be collaborating on a small funeral for family, which Christopher and Christina Aber are not permitted to attend, the court document said.
— Daniel Arkin
First published April 10 2014, 7:22 PM