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Tommy Kirk Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Trade Mark (1) | Trivia (3) | Personal Quotes (7)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 10 December 1941Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Birth NameThomas Harvey Kirk
Height 5' 9" (1.75 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Scrappy Kentucky-born Tommy Kirk, who was born on December 10, 1941, became synonymous with everything clean and fun Disney Entertainment prescribed to in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Moving to California as an infant, it was ignited at the age of 13 years when he was discovered by talent agents performing with Will Rogers Jr. and Bobby Driscoll in a production of Eugene O'Neill's "Ah, Wilderness!" at the Pasadena Playhouse. The freshly-scrubbed All-American kid was swiftly brought to the attention of mogul Walt Disney who signed him to a long-term contract.

In 1955, the lad became a member of the The Mickey Mouse Club (1955) TV series and won a legion of young fans as the irrepressibly inquisitive teen sleuth Joe Hardy in the "Hardy Boys" serial alongside Tim Considine, another young Disney staple, playing his older brother Frank. With time Tommy became a prime juvenile hero and ideal mischief maker for many of Disney's full-length comedy and drama classics including Old Yeller (1957), The Shaggy Dog (1959), Swiss Family Robinson (1960), The Absent-Minded Professor (1961), Babes in Toyland (1961), Bon Voyage! (1962), Moon Pilot (1962), Son of Flubber (1963) and The Misadventures of Merlin Jones (1964).

In 1964 the bubble completely burst when the Disney factory found out 23-year-old Tommy was having improper relations with a male teenager. The studio, out of protection, was forced to release him from his contract (but not after rehiring him once more to finish a "Merlin Jones" movie sequel The Monkey's Uncle (1965)).

It was downhill from there. Fired from his role in the John Wayne western The Sons of Katie Elder (1965), Tommy tried to avidly pursue work in teen-oriented movies. Promising jobs in competent fun-in-the-sand fluff like Pajama Party (1964) and It's a Bikini World (1967) eventually digressed, however, into utter fiascoes like Mars Needs Women (1967), in which he played a Martian, and Fiend with the Electronic Brain (1967). Essentially he was washed up and now completely blacklisted by an industry that deemed "outed" gay actors "box office poison".

Tommy's life went into a seemingly irreversible tailspin. Depressed and angry, he sought solace in drugs and nearly died from an acute overdose at one point. For health reasons he felt the need to completely abandon his career and slowly moved himself forward as a recovering addict. He managed to put together a successful carpet and upholstery cleaning business which has run steadily for well over two decades.

After decades away, Tommy showed up again in Hollywood, glimpsed in a few dismissible low-budgeters here and there, including Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfolds (1995), Billy Frankenstein (1998) and The Education of a Vampire (2001); however, as for a full-time commitment to acting,this is quite unlikely.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Trade Mark (1)

Disney movies

Trivia (3)

Played Kevin Corcoran's brother in five different films: Old Yeller (1957), The Shaggy Dog (1959), Swiss Family Robinson (1960), Bon Voyage! (1962) and Savage Sam (1963).
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.
Runs a carpet/upholstery cleaning business.

Personal Quotes (7)

Even more than MGM, Disney [in the early 1960s] was the most conservative studio in town... They were growing aware. They weren't stupid. They could add two and two together, and I think they were beginning to suspect my homosexuality. I noticed people in certain quarters were getting less and less friendly. In 1963, Disney didn't renew my option and let me go. But Walt personally let me return to do the final Merlin Jones movie, 'The Monkey's Uncle,' because those were moneymakers for the studio.
In the 1960s, all my social life was underground gay bars. It was my own life. I kept it separate from work, where I went on publicity dates with Annette Funicello or Roberta Shore.
In 1965, I'd signed a contract for 'The Sons of Katie Elder' with John Wayne, but a week before shooting I went to a Hollywood party that the vice squad busted because of marijuana. I was handcuffed and photos of me got in the papers with headlines like 'Ex-Disney Child Star Arrested for Pot!' So Wayne and the producers fired me.
[on why he quit acting] I got sick of it and I just stopped.
I consider my teenage years as being desperately unhappy. I knew I was gay since I was a little kid, but I had no outlet for my feelings and I felt that I could not confide in anyone because of the fear of being discovered to who I really was. 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 Sixties that I began to hear of places where gays congregated... When I was about 17 or 18 years old, I finally admitted to myself that I wasn't going to change. I was born homosexual and I had to accept that. I didn't know what the consequences would be if I came out, but I had the definite feeling that it was going to wreck my Disney career and maybe my whole acting career... and I turned out to be right. Eventually, I became involved with somebody and I was fired. Disney was a family film studio and I was supposed to be their young, leading man. After they found out I was involved with some guy, that was the end of Disney.
After I was fired from Disney, I did some of the worst movies ever made and I got professionally involved with a manager who said it didn't matter what you did as long as you kept working. I wound up completely broke. I spent all my money on drugs to get out of the emotional pain I was in. I had no self-discipline or self-control and I almost died of a drug overdose a couple of times. It's a miracle that I'm still around. Finally, I said to myself, "to hell with the whole thing, to hell with show business. I'm gonna make a new life for myself", and I got off drugs, completely kicked all that stuff.
[when asked about his contract termination with Walt Disney because of his homosexuality in 1964]: Yeah, I picked somebody up. It was just one of those crazy things that I didn't know what I was doing; I used to swim in the public pool in downtown Burbank, and I met this teenager and one thing led to another and we had an affair. And then he talked... he either told a friend or told his parents about me, because his parents went down to the studio one day and Disney was confronted with this. They didn't press sodomy charges, but that was the end of my contract. They did not renew me.

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