(PresidentialInsider.com)- Tommy Kirk, known for his starring role in the 1957 Disney movie Old Yeller, has sadly passed away at the age of 79.
The legendary actor was discovered by his neighbor in his Las Vegas home at 8pm last Tuesday, and authorities have ruled out any possibility of foul play.
Kirk was also known for his roles in The Shaggy Dog, Swiss Family Robinson, and The Misadventures of Merlin Jones. He came out as gay in the 1970s and was famously fired by Disney after they discovered a sexual relationship he had with a 15-year-old boy when he was 21 years old.
Some report that he was fired for being gay…others note the fact that the young boy he was allegedly having a sexual relationship with was under the legal age of consent.
Paul Peterson, also an actor, said of the tragic passing of Kirk that he was “gay and estranged from what remains of his blood-family” and that actors who have shared the screen with him consider themselves his family.
“We will take care of this. Please know that Tommy Kirk loved you, his fans,” he added, saying that his fans lifted him when the industry let him down in 1965.
Petersen is the founder of A Minor Consideration, a group set up to help other former child movie stars.
Speaking to interviewers in 1993, Kirk said that he finally admitted to himself that he was gay at the age of 17, but that he expected it would wreck his Disney and acting career.
“Disney was a family film studio, and I was supposed to be their young leading mean,” he told Filmfax Magazine.