entertainment

Tommy Kirk dead: Old Yeller and Swiss Family Robinson star found dead at home aged 79


The former Disney actor was reportedly found dead by his neighbour at his home in Las Vegas and police don’t suspect any foul play was involved

Tommy Kirk in Old Yeller
Tommy Kirk in Old Yeller

Tommy Kirk has died a the age of 79.

The actor, famed for his roles in classic films such as Old Yeller and Swiss Family Robinson, was found dead by his neighbour at his home in Las Vegas, TMZ reports.

There is said to be no foul play suspected by police.

Tommy also featured in other Disney films including The Shaggy Dog and The Misadventures of Merlin Jones.

He landed the gigs with Disney after his role in Ah, Wilderness! at the Pasadena Playhouse at the age of 13 saw him cast in The Mickey Mouse Club.

As well as his performances on the big screen, Tommy also played roles in several small screen productions.

His time with the corporation was shrouded with controversy after he was allegedly his time dismissed at the age of 21 in 1964 because he was gay.








Tommy Kirk and Dorothy McGuire in the 1957 film Old Yeller
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Image:

Warner Bros/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock)



Following his departure from Disney he starred in movies such as Pajama Party, Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine, and Village of the Giants.

In the 1970s, Tommy left the acting world behind and started his own carpet cleaning business. His ran the venture for 20 years.

He was named a Disney Legend in 2006.

Fans and famous faces joined together to pay their respects to the star following the news of his passing.





Fellow actor Paul Peterson led the tributes. He took to Facebook to say: “My friend of many decades, Tommy Kirk, was found dead last night. You will surely recall his string of Disney movies: “Shaggy Dog. Ol’ Yeller,” etc.

“Tommy was intensely private. He lived alone in Las Vegas, close to his friend … and “Ol’ Yeller co-star, Bev Washburn and it was she who called me this morning.

“Tommy was gay and estranged from what remains of his blood-family. We in A Minor Consideration are Tommy’s family. Without apology. We will take care of this. Please know that Tommy Kirk loved you, his fans.








Tommy Kirk starred in The Swiss Family Robinson
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Image:

Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock)



“You lifted him up when an industry let him down in 1965. He was not bitter. His church comforted him. May God have mercy on his soul. – Paul Peterson.”

A Minor Consideration was set up by Paul in a bid to help other former child stars.

The Walt Disney Family Museum’s Twitter page commented: “We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Disney Legend Tommy Kirk, remembered as one of the finest young actors in the history of The Walt Disney Studios. Walt Disney once referred to Tommy as “my good-luck piece here.”

And the official Disney Twitter page also wrote a similar message: “We are saddened by the passing of Tommy Kirk, the beloved and iconic star of such Disney family favorites from the 1950s and 1960s as Old Yeller, The Shaggy Dog, Swiss Family Robinson, and The Misadventures of Merlin Jones.”


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