TOMMY KIRK, American actor, born (d: 2021); If you are of a certain age, and watched early kid-TV and Disney movies, there is little need to say who Tommy Kirk is. Or more accurately, was. Kirk is an object lesson in the dangers of not concealing one’s Gayness in the early 1960s. Kirk was a child star in such blockbuster Disney films as The Absent Minded Professor, Old Yeller, and The Shaggy Dog.
But in his late teens, despondent over the exploitation of his cute all-American adolescent image, Kirk took a step that most of his Gay predecessors in Hollywood never dared. He came out to Disney. There is also a back story of his involvement, at the age of 21, with a 15-year-old boy. Either way, he was immediately fired. Kirk briefly received national press coverage but soon passed into obscurity.
He joined church organizations working with gay and lesbian youth. He remained furious, and, at times, vocal, about Disney’s propaganda mill and discriminatory practices. Unfortunately, Kirk’s heroic act has all but disappeared from Gay history.
Tommy Kirk was inducted as a Disney Legend in 2006, alongside his old co-stars Tim Considine and Kevin Corcoran.
His other repeat co-stars, Annette Funicello and Fred MacMurray, had already been inducted (in 1992 and 1987, respectively). Also in 2006, the first of Kirk’s Hardy Boys serials was issued on DVD in the fifth “wave” of the Walt Disney Treasures series.
Kirk was found dead in his Las Vegas home in September of 2021. No cause of death was released. Former child actor Paul Peterson (The Donna Reed Show) and founder of “A Minor Concern,” an organization that lobbies to provide guidance and support to child actors, said, “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.