Rooney died Saturday at his Hemet ranch after a five-year battle with a muscle disease called dermatomyositis, his stepbrother, Dan Kessel, said Tuesday.
"He was a happy guy and jokester," said his father, Mickey Rooney, in a telephone interview. "He was my son and I loved him very much. They should remember him as a guy who was smiling all the time and was very happy."
Born Jan. 4, 1947, in Birmingham, Ala., he was the second son of his famous father. His mother was a former Miss Alabama and singer, Betty Jane Rase, who performed as B.J. Baker.
Rooney suffered from childhood polio that left him paralyzed for two years but he recovered. He was chosen to be one of the original 1955 Mouseketeers for "The Mickey Mouse Club" but never appeared on the show because he was fired for getting into mischief in the Disney paint shop.
His later career included parts in movies such as "Riot on Sunset Strip." He also appeared on TV shows ranging from "Dragnet" to "Bewitched," and commercials and did voice-over work for cartoons.
Rooney also tried his hand at folk-rock singing and standup comedy, Kessel said.
His father's fame proved a mixed blessing.
"It opened doors but it was also kind of a stumbling block as well," Kessel said. "He resembled his father so much ... it kind of typecast him. As an actor, it kind of limited him."