The Associated Press
Los Angeles: Child actor Tommy Kirk, who starred in Disney films like “Old Yeller” and “The Shaggy Dog”, has died. He was 79 years old.
Kirk’s longtime friend and former child actor Paul Peterson said he was found dead Tuesday at his Las Vegas home. The cause of death has not been disclosed.
Peterson said that Kirk lived a private life as a gay man and was separated by “the remnants of his blood family”.
“He was very much a part of our Kid Star community,” Peterson said. “He made some great films back in the day. We saw them and enjoyed. He was respected in his church. He lived a quiet, but fulfilling life.”
Kirk began his career with several television shows, including the Mickey Mouse Club serial adventure “The Hardy Boys: The Mystery of the Applegate Treasure” and “The Hardy Boys: The Mystery of the Ghost Farm”, which took place in 1956–1957. aired. His big break came when he starred as Travis Coates in the 1957 film “Old Yeller,” the story of a teenage boy and his heroic yellow dog.
In “The Shaggy Dog”, Kirk portrayed a teenage boy who was sometimes cursed to turn into a lamb. He played the middle son alongside James MacArthur and Kevin Corcoran—who played his brothers—in the 1960 film “Swiss Family Robinson.”
Kirk starred in several other films in the 1960s, including “The Absent-Minded Professor” and its sequel “Son of Flubber”. She also starred in “The Misadventures of Marilyn Jones”.
In 1973, Kirk publicly came out as gay during an interview. The actor opened up 20 years later that he realized he was gay when he was 17 or 18 and that his career was destroyed by his sexual orientation.
Kirk made a few appearances in the 1990s and 2000s, in films such as his final film “Billy Frankenstein” and “The Education of a Vampire”.