Old Yeller, The Shaggy Dog, Swiss Family Robinson, The Absent-Minded Professor—Tommy Kirk was the wholesome, all-American kid in many of the Disney films of the late 1950s and early ’60s. When he got older he graduated to the lead in a number of “beach party” features, the genre of teen films set on California’s coast.
As Kirk said in an interview, “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, 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 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. It was my own life. I kept it separate from work, where I went on publicity dates with Annette Funicello or Roberta Shore.”
Kirk was fired from the John Wayne picture The Sons of Katie Elder after being arrested on Christmas Eve 1964 for possession of drugs. Although the charges were later dropped Kirk would go on to develop a drug addiction.
Kirk's acting career tapered off during the 1960s, hampered by the transition to adulthood, drug use, and "personal problems." Eventually he left show business, gave up drugs, and succeeded in starting his own carpet-cleaning business in the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles.
He continued to act occasionally, however, including in the R-rated spoof, Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfold. As of 2006, Kirk had more than thirty feature film roles to his credit.
Tommy Kirk was inducted as a Disney Legend on October 9, 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.
Stern, Keith (2009-09-01). Queers in History: The Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Historical Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals (Kindle Locations 7010-7017). Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition.
We Boys Together: Teenagers in Love Before Girl-Craziness by Jeffery P. Dennis
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Vanderbilt University Press; annotated edition edition (June 18, 2007)
Amazon: We Boys Together: Teenagers in Love Before Girl-Craziness
Teenage boys are wild about girls.When their hormones kick in at puberty, they can think of nothing else, and that"s the way it has always been-- right? Wrong. Before World War II, only sissies liked girls. Masculine, red-blooded, all-American boys were supposed to ignore girls until they were 18 or 19. Instead, parents, teachers, psychiatrists, and especially the mass media encouraged them to form passionate, intense, romantic bonds with each other.
This book explores romantic relationships between teenage boys as they were portrayed before, during, and immediately after World War II. The author takes the reader through a rich landscape of media -- sci fi pulps, comics, adventure stories, tales of teen sleuths, boys' serial novels, wartime bestsellers, and movies populated by many types of male adolescents: Boys Next Door, Adventure Boys, Jungle Boys, and Lost Boys. In Hollywood movies, Boys Next Door like Jackie Cooper, Ronald Sinclair, and Jimmy Lydon were constantly falling in love, but not with girls. In serial novels, Jungle Boys like Bomba, Sorak, and Og Son of Fire swung through the trees to rescue teenage boys, not teenage girls. In comic strips and on the radio, Adventure Boys like Don Study, Jack Armstrong, and Tim Tyler formed lasting romantic partnerships with other boys or men. Lost Boys like Frankie Darro, Leo Gorcey, and Billy Halop starred in dozens of movies about pairs of poor urban teenagers sticking together, with never a girl in sight.
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