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Faces & names: Rooney’s body remains unclaimed due to family feud

(2010 file / McClatchy Newspapers)

The body of Mickey Rooney, the “Andy Hardy” film star who died Sunday at age 93, is at the center of a family dispute that has prevented the actor’s body from being claimed.

Three days after the actor’s death, his body remains at the mortuary at Forest Lawn cemetery, Bruce Ross, an attorney for Rooney’s estate, said Wednesday.

Ross said the parties are attempting to resolve their differences privately, but they will seek the court’s assistance on Friday if the matter can’t be resolved.

An order filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday states that Michael Augustine, the deceased actor’s conservator, and Janice Rooney, his estranged wife, are barred from removing Rooney’s body from the mortuary at Forest Lawn “until April 11, 2014, or pending further order of the court.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, Janice Rooney and her son, Christopher Aber, attempted to remove Rooney’s body from the Forest Lawn mortuary. The paper cited court papers filed by Augustine, saying that the removal would have been against Rooney’s wishes.

Janice Rooney and Aber maintain that the actor wished to be interred at a plot next to Chamberlin’s at a Westlake Village cemetery, the paper reports, while Augustine insists that Rooney wanted to be buried at a veterans cemetery or next to other actors at a Hollywood cemetery.

The paper reports that Rooney, at the time of his death, had been living with his stepson Mark Rooney and his wife Charlene. The paper reports that the actor had just $18,000 to his name.

The fight over Rooney’s body is the latest in a messy family feud. In 2011, Rooney filed a lawsuit against Aber and his wife, claiming that they had exploited him after they began handling his affairs, with Christopher Aber supposedly diverting Rooney’s income in order to support his own elaborate lifestyle. Aber convinced Rooney that he was destitute, the actor’s attorneys claimed at that time. The former child star said that if he attempted to decline work, Aber would threaten the actor with foreclosure or the loss of medical benefits.