The long-time Disney actor known for playing Travis Coates in “Old Yeller” was found dead in his Las Vegas home on Tuesday.
Seventy-nine-year-old Tommy Kirk was honored by a longtime friend in an announcement on Facebook, which read, “Please know that Tommy Kirk loved you, his fans,” according to Variety.
Kirk was well-known for his roles in many Disney films in the late 50s and early 60s. His most well-known role was that of frontier teenager Travis Coates in the 1957 Disney film “Old Yeller.” (RELATED: ‘Sex And The City’ Star Willie Garson Dead At 57)
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. pic.twitter.com/Puk03zO6xq
— Disney (@Disney) September 29, 2021
Kirk’s other roles included Ernst in “Swiss Family Robinson,” Wilby in “The Shaggy Dog,” and Biff Hawk in “The Absent Minded Professor” and its sequel, “Son of Flubber,” according to the outlet.
He began seeing a 15-year-old boy when he was 21-years-old, and publicly came out as gay in 1973. Disney then chose not to renew his contract, Variety reported.
Kirk received the Disney Legends award in 2006, and stated, “I want to be remembered for my Disney work, like ‘Swiss Family Robinson’ and ‘Old Yeller,'” according to Variety.
“Tommy was gay and estranged from what remains of his blood-family. We in A Minor Consideration [a non-profit supporting past and present young performers] are Tommy’s family. Without apology. We will take care of this,” Kirk’s longtime friend, Paul Peterson II, said in the Facebook post.