Like many performers, Julia Rooney came from a showbiz family. Her father was Pat Rooney Sr, (1848–1892), a young, short and slight Irish immigrant who boxed and wrestled his way in America to become a famous singing and clog-dancing veteran of variety saloons. Later, he led his own variety troupe, earning as much as a thousand dollars a week. His five children, all of whom were musical, followed him into show business. The most famous of them, Pat Rooney Jr (1880-1962), spent seventy years on stages from vaudeville to Broadway, even into film and television.
Julia Rooney (1887–1990) has left her family scrapbook to the American Vaudeville Museum and her famous family connections ensure that her gift, now in the University of Arizona collection, is virtually a who was who of vaudeville.