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Tommy Kirk Biography, Wiki, Age, Career, Death, Cause of Death, Family & More | Who was Tommy Kirk? Bio, Wiki

Who was Tommy Kirk?

Tommy Kirk (December 10, 1941 – September 28, 2021) was an American actor, best known for his performances in films made by Walt Disney Studios such as Old YellerThe Shaggy DogSwiss Family RobinsonThe Absent-Minded Professor, and The Misadventures of Merlin Jones, as well as the beach-party films of the mid-1960s.

Tommy Kirk, Disney child star in ‘Old Yeller’ and ‘The Shaggy Dog,’ dies at 79

Tommy Kirk, Disney child star in 'Old Yeller' and 'The Shaggy Dog,' dies at 79
Tommy Kirk, Disney child star in ‘Old Yeller’ and ‘The Shaggy Dog,’ dies at 79

Tommy Kirk, a child star who played in Disney films such as “Old Yeller” and “The Shaggy Dog,” has died. He was 79.

Kirk’s friend and former child star, Paul Petersen, said he was found dead in his Las Vegas home on Tuesday. The cause of death has not been released.

Petersen said Kirk lived a private life as a gay man and was estranged from what “remains of his blood family.”

“He was very much a part of our kid star community,” Peterson said. “He made some wonderful films back in the day. We saw and enjoyed them. He was respected in his church. He lived a quiet, but full life.”

Kirk started his career with several television shows including the Mickey Mouse Club’s serialized adventure “The Hardy Boys: The Mystery of the Applegate Treasure” and “The Hardy Boys: The Mystery of the Ghost Farm,” which aired in 1956-1957. His big break came when he starred as Travis Coates in the 1957 film “Old Yeller,” a story about a teenage boy and his heroic yellow dog.

Tommy Kirk Cause of Death

The cause of death has not been released. He died at his Las Vegas, Nevada, home on September 28, 2021, at the age of 79.

Tommy Kirk Biography, Wiki

Scrappy, plucky-looking Kentucky-born Tommy Kirk, who was born on December 10, 1941, became synonymous with everything clean and fun that Disney Entertainment prescribed to in the late 1950s and very early 1960s.

One of four sons born to a mechanic and legal secretary, the Kirk family, in search of better job prospects, moved from Louisville to Downey, California while Tommy was still an infant. The boy’s interest in acting was ignited at the age of 13 years when he (instead of older brother Joe) was cast in a minor role in a production of Will Rogers Jr. and Bobby Driscoll in a production of Eugene O’Neill’s “Ah, Wilderness!” at the Pasadena Playhouse.

Discovered by a Hollywood agent who saw him and signed him up, Tommy went on to appear in two other Pasadena theatre plays, Portrait in Black” and “Barefoot in Athens” and on TV (“Lux Video Theatre, “Frontier,” “Big Town,” “Gunsmoke” and “The Loretta Young Show”) and film (Down Liberty Road (1956) and The Peacemaker (1956)). It was an episode of “Matinee Theatre” that brought the freshly scrubbed All-American kid to the attention of mogul Walt Disney who quickly signed him to a long-term contract.

Tommy Kirk Biography
Tommy Kirk
Real NameTommy Kirk
Profession American Actor, businessman
Wife NameNot Known
Physical Status 
AgeApprox 79 Years
Death28 September 2021
HeightIn centimeters – 173 CMIn meters- 1.73 mIn Feet Inches – 5’8″
WeightIn Kilograms- 69 kgIn Pounds- 162 lbs
Eye ColourBlack
Hair ColourBlack
Personal Information
Date of Birth 10 December 1941
Birth PlaceLouisville, Kentucky, U.S
Zodiac signNA
School NameNot Known
College NameNot Known
QualificationsNot Known
Family Profile
Father NameLouis Kirk
Mother NameLucy Kirk
Uncle NameN/A
Career 
Source Of IncomeNot known
Appeared InNot Known
Net Worth, SalaryNot Known

Was Tommy Kirk Gay?

Yes, Tommy Kirk was gay. Tommy revealed in 1973 that he was gay. He said in Fimways magazine in 1993,

“I knew I was gay, but I had no outlet for my feelings. It was very hard to meet people and, at that time, there was no place to go to socialize. It wasn’t until the early ’60s that I began to hear of places where gays congregated. The lifestyle was not recognized and I was very, very lonely.”

His friend Petersen said Kirk lived a private life as a gay man and was estranged from what “remains of his blood family.” In 1973, he publicly came out as gay during an interview with Marvin Jones. At the time he was studying acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute while working as a busboy in a Los Angeles restaurant. The actor opened up 20 years later that he realized he was gay at age 17 or 18 and that his career was destroyed by his sexual orientation. Kirk said he knew he was gay from an early age.

“I consider my teenaged years as being desperately unhappy. I knew I was gay, but I had no outlet for my feelings. It was very hard to meet people and, at that time, there was no place to go to socialize. It wasn’t until the early ’60s that I began to hear of places where gays congregated. The lifestyle was not recognized and I was very, very lonely. Oh, I had some brief, very passionate encounters and as a teenager, I had some affairs, but they were always stolen, back alley kind of things. They were desperate and miserable.

When I was about 17 or 18 years old, I finally admitted to myself that I wasn’t going to change. I didn’t know what the consequences would be, but I had the definite feeling that it was going to wreck my Disney career and maybe my whole acting career. It was all going to come to an end.”

While filming The Misadventures of Merlin Jones in 1963, he began seeing a 15-year-old boy he had met at a local swimming pool in Burbank. The boy’s mother discovered the affair and informed Disney, who elected not to renew Kirk’s contract. Kirk was 21 years old. Walt Disney personally fired him.

Kirk describes the situation himself: “Even more than MGM, Disney was the most conservative studio in town…. The studio executives were beginning to suspect my homosexuality. Certain people were growing less and less friendly. In 1963, Disney let me go. But Walt asked me to return for the final Merlin Jones movie, The Monkey’s Uncle because the Jones films had been moneymakers for the studio.”

Tommy Kirk Wife/Husband

Tommy was not married because he was gay. He had been never married. The Disney Studios canceled Tommy’s contract when a lady complained to the Disney Studio about Tommy’s relation with that lady’s 15-year-old son.

Tommy Kirk Family

Tommy Kirk was born to Louis Kirk ( Father ) and Lucy Kirk ( Mother ). His father was a highway department repairman. and his mother was a legal secretary. He had a brother named Joe Kirk who is also an American actor.

Joe’s other name is Ignazio “Nat” Curcurut. His family shifted to Downey in Los Angeles when Tommy was just 15 years old. 

Tommy Kirk Career

Kirk’s career received its biggest break yet when Disney cast him as Travis Coates in Old Yeller (1957), an adventure story about a boy and his heroic dog. He had the lead role in the film, which was enormously successful, and he became Disney’s first choice whenever they needed someone to play an all-American teenager. 

Kevin Corcoran played his younger brother and they would often be teamed. Both of them were announced in the cast of Rainbow Road to Oz, based on the stories of L. Frank Baum, but this film never resulted.

Kirk appeared in another Hardy brothers installment, the original story The Mystery of Ghost Farm (September 13 – December 20, 1957). He then starred in The Shaggy Dog (1959), a comedy about a boy inventor, Wilby Daniels, who is repeatedly transformed into an Old English Sheepdog under the influence of a magic ring.

This teamed him with Corcoran and two other Disney stars with whom he would regularly work, Fred MacMurray and Annette Funicello. He went over to Universal-International to do some voice work for the animated film, The Snow Queen (1959), originally in Russian but adapted for US release.

Kirk was given the lead in Savage Sam (1963), a sequel to Old Yeller which did not do as well at the box office. However, when he played “scrambled egghead” student inventor Merlin Jones in The Misadventures of Merlin Jones (1964), it resulted in one of the biggest hits of the year.

Despite his success, Disney chose not to renew Kirk’s contract upon discovering he had been having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old boy. Walt Disney himself fired him after receiving a complaint from his mother. Yet in a bow to audience wishes, the studio rehired him for the Merlin Jones sequel, The Monkey’s Uncle.

Some Interesting Facts About Tommy Kirk

  • In July 1996, he was a guest at the Western Film Fair in Charlotte, North Carolina along with Morgan Woodward, Tony Young, Patricia Blair, Roberta Shore, Gregory Walcott, Gene Evans, Justin Tubb, Adrian Booth, Robert F. Hoy, Neil Summers and Dale Berry.
  • In 1976 he was asked to appear in a western entitled “My Name Is Legend” that filmed in Wichita, but the film was never finished.
  • Kirk was not fired from Disney for being gay. He admitted in a 1993 interview that it was for having sex with a 15-year-old boy when he was 21.
  • Tommy’s father Louis was a mechanic and mother Doris a legal secretary. He had three brothers: Joe, Andy and John
  • He, along with Tim Considine, Kevin Corcoran and David Stollery were named “Disney Legends” for their work in TV and film. joining the company of such stalwart contributors as Fred MacMurray, Fess Parker, Annette Funicello, Hayley Mills, Kurt Russell, John Mills and Ed Wynn.

Tommy Kirk FAQ’s

Who was Tommy Kirk?

Tommy Kirk (December 10, 1941 – September 28, 2021) was an American actor, best known for his performances in films made by Walt Disney Studios such as Old YellerThe Shaggy DogSwiss Family RobinsonThe Absent-Minded Professor, and The Misadventures of Merlin Jones, as well as the beach-party films of the mid-1960s.

How old was Tommy Kirk?

Tommy Kirk was 79 years old.

What was Tommy Kirk famous for?

Tommy Kirk was famous for playing child star in Disney films such as “Old Yeller” and “The Shaggy Dog.”

Was Tommy Kirk gay?

Yes, Tommy Kirk was gay. Tommy revealed in 1973 that he was gay. He said in Fimways magazine in 1993,

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