Tommy Kirk, ‘Old Yeller’ and ‘Swiss Family Robinson’ Star, Dies at 79

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Tommy Kirk

September 29, 2021

Tommy Kirk, the actor known for playing Travis Coates in “Old Yeller” and several other Disney films, was found dead in his Las Vegas home Tuesday. He was 79.

Kirk’s longtime friend Paul Petersen II posted the news on Facebook, writing, “Please know that Tommy Kirk loved you, his fans.”

Kirk was born in Louisville, Ky. in 1941 and grew up in Los Angeles County. He began acting as a teenager, and appeared in a play at the Pasadena Playhouse, where he was discovered by an agent who helped him to make his screen debut in “The Last of the Old Time Shooting Sheriffs,” a 1955 episode of “TV Reader’s Digest.” From there, he appeared in episodes of several TV series including “The Loretta Young Show” and “Gunsmoke.” His profile rose when he began to play the role of Joe Hardy in the “Hardy Boys” series “The Mystery of the Applegate Treasure” and “The Mystery of the Ghost Farm.”

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