Disney Legend Tommy Kirk Passes Away
During the 1950s and 60s, Tommy Kirk starred in a wide array of heart-warming family-friendly films. Eventually becoming a Disney Legend for his contributions to the company, Kirk’s career spanned film and television, including classics like “Old Yeller” and “Swiss Family Robinson.” Yesterday, the heart-warming actor passed away at the age of 79.
Once called the company’s “good-luck piece” by Walt Disney himself according to Kirk’s own report, acclaim for his raw and emotional portrayals poured in from former colleagues throughout the day.
“One of the reasons people remember Old Yeller is not just the fate of a beloved dog, but the shattering grief expressed by his owner, so beautifully played by Tommy. I think his talent and range as an actor were taken for granted somewhat. He was really very versatile,” said film historian Leonard Maltin in a D23 article celebrating the late Kirk.
Throughout his time at Walt Disney Studios, Kirk found himself on a number of sets with roles in popular films like “The Shaggy Dog,” “The Absent-Minded Professor,” “Babes in Toyland,” and “The Monkey’s Uncle.” Though not an official Mouseketeer, Kirk once starred as Joe Hardy in a “The Hardy Boys” serial for the popular television show. He also attended school with the cast.
Kirk’s time at the Walt Disney Company ended in the early 1960s after he was unexpectedly outed as gay by his mother to Walt Disney, according to an article on Comicbook. His film career continued throughout the 1970s with American International Pictures. In his later years, Kirk appeared in a few acting projects and spoke out about his past the impact that the end of his Disney career had on him throughout his life.
Feature Image Credit: D23