A likable, boyish player in Walt Disney Pictures' film and television efforts during the late 1950s and early 1960s, Tommy Kirk played good-hearted if hapless boys and teenagers in such popular live-action pictures as "Old Yeller" (1957), "The Shaggy Dog" (1957), "The Absent-Minded Professor" (1962) and "The Misadventures of Merlin Jones" (1964). However, the clean-cut image Disney constructed for Kirk was a flimsy shield for his offscreen lifestyle, which included rampant drug use, as well as homosexuality. The latter proved his downfall in 1965, when word about his proclivities led Disney to eject him from their fold. Kirk struggled to maintain his career throughout the 1960s before gaining control of his life in the 1970s and opening his own successful business. Despite the stigma that surrounded his dismissal, Kirk's best efforts made him one of Disney's most beloved and most recognizable young performers.