Famous GLBT & GLBTI People

Vol. I Issue 11 June 3, 2000 

Arts & Entertainment 

Pride 2000

Remembering When and Who Tommy Kirk By Codi

Tommy with Annette

My first memory of Tommy Kirk was feeling his sadness as he mourned his dog "Old Yeller". Of course as "Uncle" Walt Disney’s leading male star of the late ‘50’s and early ‘60’s Tommy was quite active. "Babes In Toyland", "The Shaggy Dog", numerous other movies and his regular presence on the Wonderful World of Disney made Tommy a household word.

Tommy was the All-American Boy. Someone we related to and in some ways even wanted to emulate. His clean good looks, honest face and wholesome roles set a standard for goals and behavior. There was only one problem, Tommy was gay.

According to quotes of Tommy Kirk from Kevin Minton’s in-depth interview "Sex, Lies, and Disney Tape: Walt’s Fallen Star" (Issue 38 of Filmfax 1993), Kirk knew his sexuality would create problems with his career as well as his "strict Baptist parents,". "I consider my teenage years as being desperately unhappy" stated Kirk. "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."

Kirk describes his early sexual exploration as "desperate and miserable". Mostly brief encounters and teenage affairs, very "back alley kind of things." According to Kirk, "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 is was going to wreck my Disney career and maybe my whole acting career. 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 someone, that was the end of Disney." It was 1964 and Kirk was twenty-three and found himself "box office poison." His movies now would range from cute, campy fluff such as Pajama Party in 1964 to horrible movies like Mars Needs Women. Kirk explains, "After I was fired from Disney, I did some of the worst movies ever made and I got involved with a manager who said it didn’t matter what you did as long as you kept working." Tommy’s personal life also took a downward spiral, getting mixed up with drugs. "I wound up completely broke. I had no self-discipline and I almost died of a drug overdose a couple of times. It’s a miracle that I’m still around."

Tommy eventually discovered there is life outside of show business. . "Finally, I said, 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." Kirk started a carpet and upholstery cleaning business and has it for over twenty years now. He wants to be remembered for the Disney work, especially Swiss Family Robinson, his favorite. Kirk today is wiser and has dealt with the issues of his life and their effects. He is working on a film project called Education of a Vampire.


The Tommy Kirk Story by Jesse Monteagudo http://gaytoday.badpuppy.com/garchive/people/013100pe.htm

WEHT Tommy Kirk Campaign CBEntr@ix.netcom.com



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