Bobby Driscoll

Bobby Driscoll

Infobox actor
name = Bobby Driscoll

imagesize = 200px
caption = Bobby Driscoll, ca. 1949
birthname = Robert Cletus Driscoll
birthdate = birth date|1937|3|3|
birthplace = Cedar Rapids, Iowa
deathdate = death date and age|1968|3|30|1937|3|3|
deathplace = East Village, Manhattan
deathcause = Heart failure (conclusive coronary arteriosclerosis)
occupation = Actor/Artist
yearsactive = 19431960
spouse = Marylin Jean Rush (1956-1957) (annulled) and (1957-1960) (divorced) - three children
website =
academyawards = Academy Juvenile Award
1950 "So Dear to My Heart"; "The Window"
awards = Milky Way Gold Star Award
1954 for his TV and Radio work
Hollywood Walk Of Fame
1560 Vine Street

Bobby Driscoll (March 3 1937 in Cedar Rapids, IowaMarch 30 1968 in New York City), was an Academy Award-winning American child actor known for a large body of screen- and TV-work from 1943 to 1960. He starred in some of the Walt Disney Company's most popular live-action pictures, such as "Song of the South" (1946), "So Dear to My Heart" (1948), and "Treasure Island" (1950), and he was also the close-up model and the voice of the animated "Peter Pan" (1953).

In 1950, he was the ninth of only twelve children in Hollywood's history to receive an Academy Juvenile Award for outstanding performance in feature films. This category began in 1934 with Shirley Temple and ended in 1961 with Hayley Mills.

Shortly after the theatrical release of "Peter Pan", Driscoll's final long-term contract with the Disney Studios was prematurely terminated, officially because of a severe acne he developed at about the same time, what also caused an increasing indifference of the Hollywood Studios, the older he got. That's why in his early post-Disney years, he was basically known to a nationwide audience for his continuous work in many American television-series, -dramas and -anthologies, such as "Dragnet", "Medic", and "Climax", as well as "Fireside Theatre", "Schlitz Playhouse of Stars", and "TV Readers Digest". His screen career eventually ended in 1958 with a final, low-budget teenager-movie, while his TV presence continued until 1960.

In the mid-1950s he became addicted to drugs and frequently fell foul of the law, resulting in continuous withdrawals of acting offers. Despite a hasty marriage late in 1959 and following three children he was unable to kick the habit, what would result in a divorce three years later and an eventual sentencing in 1961. After his release in early 1962 he continued working in common jobs and rejoined the Los Angeles art circle of impressionist Wallace Berman, whom he already befriended in 1956. After his parole had expired in 1964 he moved to New York City and spent a few years as a part of the local avant-garde (also known as the Beat Generation) under the tutelage of pop-art icon Andy Warhol. However, in the end his funds depleted and disillusioned he died home- and penniless in an abandoned Manhattan tenement in March of 1968 at the age of 31 due to the effects of his long-time drug abuse.

Life and career

Birth and early childhood

Bobby Driscoll was born Robert Cletus Driscoll on March 3 1937 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the only child of Cletus Driscoll, an insulation salesman, and Isabelle Krantz Driscoll, a former schoolteacher. Just months after his birth they moved to Des Moines, [" [ Famous Iowans] ". "Des Moines Register"] where they stayed until early 1943.When a doctor advised Cletus to relocate to balmy California, due to pulmonic ailments he suffered from his work-related handling with asbestos, the family moved to the vicinity of Los Angeles. Driscoll was discovered during a routine haircut, just a few months later, when the barber, attracted by the boy's cute face, urged his parents to try to get him into the movies. His own son, an occasional actor, did then indeed manage to gain him an audition at MGM for a bit role in the 1943 family drama "Lost Angel", which starred up-and-coming Margaret O'Brien.

While on a tour across the studio lot, five years old Bobby spied a mock-up ship and asked where the water was. The director was impressed by the boy's curiosity and intelligence, and selected from forty applicants, he won the part. [cite news |first=Peggy |last=Peregrine |title=Studio Round-Up meets Bobby Driscoll |url= |publisher=Picturegoer |date=1949-11-19 |accessdate=2008-09-02 ]

The "Wonder Child"

He was that convincing in his brief, scarcely two minutes debut, [cite web |url= |title=LOST ANGEL" - Bobby's very first filmrole |work= |accessdate=2008-09-02 ] that 20th Century Fox hired him out of a crowd of 500 children for the role of young Al Sullivan, the youngest of the five historic Sullivan brothers, in the 1944 WWII drama "The Fighting Sullivans" opposite Thomas Mitchell and Anne Baxter.Because of the naturalness of his acting and his uncommon talent for memorizing lines at that young age, he was soon considered a new "Wonder Child", [cite news |title=Youthful Find Signed By 20th Century Fox |url= |publisher=Los Angeles Times |date=1944-02-05 |accessdate=2008-09-02 ] and one major studio would recommend him to another, leading to screen portrayals as the boy who could blow his whistle while standing on his head in "Sunday Dinner for a Soldier" (1944), the "child brother" of Richard Arlen in "The Big Bonanza" (1944) and young Percy Maxim in "So Goes My Love" (1946), [cite news |first=Edwin |last=Schallert |title=SO GOES MY LOVE - Engaging Trumpery |url= |publisher=Los Angeles Times |date=1946-05-24 |accessdate=2008-09-02 ] with Don Ameche and Myrna Loy. In addition, he had a number of smaller roles in movies like "Identity Unknown", in 1945, and "Mrs Susie Slagel's", "From This Day Forward" and "O.S.S." with Alan Ladd, all three of which were released in 1946.

Walt Disney's "Golden Boy"

"Song Of The South"

Walt Disney himself cast and contracted Driscoll as his first ever live actor for the lead character in "Song Of The South", 1946, which was his first serious attempt to turn away from pure feature-length animation pictures, which, in the past, often proved losses rather than profits. [cite web |url= | - Official Homepage |accessdate=2008-09-02 ] In addition Disney considered live action pictures much cheaper and faster to produce than animated ones. Yet, the film still consists of mostly cartoon segments rather than of live action. Nevertheless, almost overnight "Song Of The South" made him and his little co-star Luana Patten the new child stars of their days. Both were even discussed for a special Academy Award as the best child actors of 1946, but in 1947 it was decided not to present any juvenile awards at all. [cite news |first=Luella |last=Parsons |title=That Little Girl in 'Song Of The South' a Big Girl Now |url= |publisher=Lincoln Sunday Journal and Star |date=1960-02-28 |accessdate=2008-09-02 ] However, in 1948, James Baskett, who died just months after the ceremony, won an Honorary Oscar for his performance as Uncle Remus and as the voice of Br'er Fox.

"So Dear To My Heart"

Now nicknamed by the American press as Walt Disney's "Sweetheart Team", [cite news |title=Walt's "Sweetheart Team" |url= |publisher= Lincoln Sunday Journal and Star |date=1946-11-10 |accessdate=2008-09-02 ] the children had another big movie hit together with "So Dear To My Heart", 1948, opposite acting balladeer Burl Ives and veteran character actress Beulah Bondi. It was planned as Walt Disney's first all live-action movie, and production in fact began immediately after "Song Of The South". However, its release was postponed until late 1948 to allow the addition of animated scenes to meet the demands of Disney's co-producer and long-time distributor RKO Radio Pictures, [cite web |url= |title=SO DEAR TO MY HEART - The Making Of - two film clips (the second confirming the production dates) |accessdate=2008-09-02 |work= ] since in 1947/48 they considered it still unimaginable for a Disney picture to be entirely without animation.

"The Window"

This movie and the RKO production "The Window" (1949), [cite web |url= |title=THE WINDOW" - A Fansite |accessdate=2008-09-02 ] (which became the "sleeper" of the year), based on Cornell Woolrich's 1947 crime classic "The Boy Who Cried Murder", would earn Bobby Driscoll a special Academy Award in March 1950 as the outstanding juvenile actor of the year 1949. [cite news |title=Baby Oscar For Young Star |url= |publisher=The Daily Courier, Conellesville (Pennsylvania) |date=1950-03-31 |accessdate=2008-09-02 , cite news |title= Winners Of Honors Named |url= |publisher=The News, Frederick (Maryland)|date=1950-03-24 |accessdate=2008-09-02 ] [cite web |url= |title=Oscar-Winners and Nominees of 1949 |accessdate=2008-09-02 ] Large portions of this low budget film noir were shot between November and December 1947 in RKO-Pathé's newly constructed studios in (East) Harlem, New York City and in abandoned tenements on 105th and 116th Streets. [cite web |url= |title=(East) Harlem, New York |accessdate=2008-09-02 |work= New York City Map ] [cite web |url= |title=RKO-Pathé, New York, Harlem - correct Adress |accessdate=2008-09-02 ] In mid-December 1947 then the production moved back to Los Angeles, where, in early 1948, interior scenes were filmed. [cite web |url= |title=THE WINDOW - Production details |accessdate=2008-09-02 |work=Turner Classic Movies ] [cite news |first=Phillip K. |last=Scheuer |title=Cameraman Tetzlaff Scores as Director |url= |publisher=The Los Angeles Times |date=1948-10-24 |accessdate=2008-09-02 , cite news |title=Film Faking Takes Some Ingenuity |url= |publisher=Mansfield News Journal (Ohio) |date=1950-03-24 |accessdate=2008-09-02 ] [cite web |url= |title=THE WINDOW - Notes |accessdate=2008-09-02 |work=Turner Classic Movies ] But the finished picture was shelved because Hollywood producer Howard Hughes, who bought the RKO studios the previous year, considered it unworthy of release and even the boy not much of an actor. Not until studio authorities were able to convince him that it would make more sense to give it a try, seeing that it was already completed and paid for, did "The Window" have a belated premier in May 1949. Driscoll's haunting performance of a little blowhard, whom nobody wants to believe to have witnessed a real murder became the surprise hit of the year, and recouped a multiple of its production costs.

Bosley Crowther, reporter and film reviewer for the New York Times wrote: "Bobby Driscoll is a brilliant actor. "The Window" is Bobby Driscoll's picture. Make no mistake about it."

"If You Knew Susie" and "Melody Time"

Prior to shooting "The Window", he played Eddie Cantor's screen son in the 1948 RKO musical comedy "If You Knew Susie", in which he teamed up with former Our Gang member Margaret Kerry. [cite web |url= |title= Margaret Kerry - Official Homepage|accessdate=2008-09-02 ] She would work with him again just a few years later in Walt Disney's 1953 animated "Peter Pan" - he as the close-up model and the voice of the title character and she as his pixie girlfriend Tinker Bell. [cite web |url= |title=A comprehensive Interview with Margaret Kerry (especially on her memories while working at the Disney Studios) |accessdate=2008-09-02 |work=Ultimated Disney ] In addition, once again along with his child partner Luana Patten, Roy Rogers and The Sons Of The Pioneers, he appeared in the teaser of the "Pecos Bill" segment of Disney's cartoon compilation "Melody Time", which was released in 1948. [cite web |url= |title=Melody Time - film clip |accessdate=2008-09-02 | ]

"Treasure Island"

And it was Bobby Driscoll's portrayal of Jim Hawkins in Walt Disney's version of Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island" at the side of British screen legend Robert Newton as one-legged Long John Silver, that earned him his star at 1560 Vine Street on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, [cite news |title=Walt Disney Organizing Trek to England |url= |publisher=Los Angeles Times |date=1949-04-15 |accessdate=2008-09-02 , cite news |first=John L. |last=Scott |title=Disney's New Feature High in Values |url= |publisher=Los Angeles Times |date=1949-02-23 |accessdate=2008-09-02 , cite news |title=Disney Animated Flood of Film Including All-Live "Treasure Island" |url= |publisher=Los Angeles Times |date=1949-06-15 |accessdate=2008-09-02 , cite news |title=Treasure Island With Bobby Driscoll and Robert Newton at "The Mayfair" |url= |publisher=New York Times |date=1950-08-16 |accessdate=2008-09-02 ]

"Treasure Island" was Walt Disney's eagerly awaited first all live-action picture. Both Disney and RKO had huge amounts of pre-war money frozen in the United Kingdom, which, according to the law of the land, could only be spent there. Therefore, it was a matter of fiscal necessity to film the movie in England rather than in Hollywood. But during production, it was discovered that his young star was not in possession of a valid British work permit, and as a consequence, he, his parents and Walt Disney himself were fined and even ordered to leave the country. When the Driscolls were granted permission to remain for six weeks to prepare an appeal, Disney and director Byron Haskin immediately spirited the boy away to a sound stage where they shot all of his close-ups, [cite news |title=British Court Upholds Bobby Driscoll Fine |url= |publisher= unkown |date=1949-10 |accessdate=2008-09-02 , cite book |title=Byron Haskin, interviewed by |last=Adamson |first=Joe |year=1984 |publisher=The Director's Guild of Amrica and The Scarecrow Press, Inc. |location=Metuchen, N.Y. and London |isbn=0-8108-1740-3 |pages=174-175 |url= ] while they used his British stand-in to film still missing location scenes after he and his parents had returned to California. [cite book |title=Byron Haskin - interviewed by ... |last=Adamson |first=Joe |year=1984 |publisher=The Director's Guild Of America and The Scarecrow Press, Inc. |location=Metuchen, N.Y. and London |isbn= ISBN 0-8108-1740-3 |pages=166-186 ]

In the aftermath of this international box office hit, there were several other film projects involving Driscoll under discussion. But none ever materialized. So many of his ensuing performances were confined to TV and radio. For example, Byron Haskin recalled in his memoirs that Disney always planned to cast him as Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer. At that point in time, the boy was at the perfect age for the role, but because of a story rights ownership dispute with Hollywood producer David O. Selznick, who had previously produced the property in 1938 with Tommy Kelly as the title character, the entire project was ultimately cancelled.

On June 7, 1950 the Los Angeles Times wrote: "Walt Disney would like to star Bobby Driscoll in Tom Sawyer, but David O. Selznick has the property tied up and heaven only knows what he wants for it." [cite news |title=Tom Sawyer |url= |publisher=Los Angeles Times |date=1950-06-07 |accessdate=2008-09-02 ]

Soon after, it was publicly announced that Driscoll would portray a youthful Robin Hood (some press sources even termed it the British rebel as a child) and be reunited with Robert Newton, who would co-star as Friar Tuck. [cite news |title=Walt Disney Will Follow Up 'Treasure Island' |url= |publisher=Los Angeles Times |date=1950-01-18 |accessdate=2008-09-02 ,cite news |first=Edwin |last=Schallert |title=Disney Again to Wed Cartoons, Live Action |url= |publisher=Los Angeles Times |date=1950-07-22 |accessdate=2008-09-02 , cite news |first=Hedda |last=Hopper |title=Robert Néwton to Portay Friar Tuck |url= |publisher=Los Angeles Times |date=1951-02-21 |accessdate=2008-09-02 ] To be titled "The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men", it was to be a 1952 release. In the end, Disney did indeed produce the film, but with a different cast and story, and without both of them, [cite web |url= |title=The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men - Cast |accessdate=2008-09-02 | ] since the earlier debacle with British law rendered it impossible for him to make a second movie with Driscoll in England. Consequently, "Robin Hood" came off differently than originally conceived.

"When I Grow Up"

Driscoll's second long-run Disney contract allowed him to be loaned to independent Horizon Pictures for the double role of Danny/Josh Reed in "When I Grow Up" (1951). His casting was the result of the personal suggestion of Oscar-winning screenplay writer Michael Kanin. "When I Grow Up" was commissioned by producer Sam Spiegel, and was a little low-budget movie shot in less than a month between mid-November and mid-December 1950, basically on a sound stage at California Studios. Although it received decent reviews, the chief complaint was its length. Following its initial run, it disappeared completely, and the financial losses attended by its production costs of approximately half a million dollars plagued Horizon Studios for the next two years.According to Spiegel's biographers, he was disappointed by the manner in which the entire project was handled. [cite book |title=Sam Spiegel - The Incredible Life and Times of Hollywood's Most Iconoclastic Producer [...] |last=Fraser-Cavassoni, |first=Natasha |year=2003 |publisher=Simon & Schuster |location=New York, London, Toronto, Sydney, Singapore |isbn=ISBN 0-684-83619-X |pages=119-20, 134, 143, 267, 361 ] The picture proved to be Kanin's only, but unsuccessful directorial effort.

"Walt Disney's Christmas Shows" and "Goofy Jr."

In addition to his brief guest appearance in Walt Disney's very first TV Christmas Show in 1950, also known as "One Hour In Wonderland", sponsored by the Coca-Cola Company and hosted by Kathryn Beaumont, [cite web |url= |title=One Hour In Wonderland |accessdate=2008-09-02 | ] his later co-star in 1953's animated "Peter Pan", and being featured in this very role in a second such recorded promotion show on Christmas of 1951, [cite news |first=Bobby |last=Driscoll |title=Personal Letter (to his girl friend, in which he describes the content/nature of Walt Disney's second Christmas show |url= |publisher=The Park Sheraton Hotel, New York City |date=1951-11-30 |accessdate=2008-09-02 ] Driscoll lent his voice to Goofy, Jr. in the Disney cartoon shorts, "Fathers are People" and "Father's Lion," which were released in 1951 and '52, respectively.

"The Happy Time"

Also, in 1952 he was Robert "Bibi" Bonnard in Richard Fleischer's comedy"The Happy Time" (1952), which was based on a Broadway play of the same name by Samuel A. Taylor. Cast with acting veterans Charles Boyer, Marsha Hunt, Louis Jordan and Kurt Kasznar, he played the juvenile offspring of a patriarch in Quebec of the 1920s. On the cusp of adolescence and callow concerning matters of love, Bibi was the character upon whom the plot actually centered. Shot in about one month's time during January–February 1952, the movie was so well done that it became a considerable success for producer Stanley Kramer and director Richard Fleischer, [cite book |title=Richard Fleischer - Just Tell Me When To Cry - a Memoir |last=Fleischer |first=Richard |year=1993 |publisher=Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc. |location=New York |isbn=ISBN 0-881-84944-8 |pages=pages 79-83, 103 ] who, just two years later, would score with the Walt Disney Fantasy classic "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea", starring Kirk Douglas, James Mason and Peter Lorre.

"Peter Pan"

"The Happy Time" was released in December 1952, when Driscoll’s last major success, "Peter Pan", was already in the can, since it was largely produced between May 1949 and mid-1951. [cite web |url= |title=PETER PAN - actual production data |accessdate=2008-09-02 |work=Turner Classic Movies - Official Homepage ]

Opposite Disney's "Little British Lady" Kathryn Beaumont, who was cast in the role of Wendy Darling, (and who was also the live action model and voice of his 1951 Alice In Wonderland), he was the reference model for the close-ups and Peter Pan's voice, while dancer and choreographer Roland Dupree was the actual live-action model for the title character. [cite web |url= |title=About us (Biography) |accessdate=2008-09-02 | (Official Homepage of Roland Dupree) ] [cite web |url= |title=Memorablia & Collectibles (signed production photographs with detailed captions |accessdate=2008-09-02 |work=Tinker Bell Talks - Official Homepage of Margaret Kerry (Tinker Bell) ] Scenes were played on an almost empty sound stage with only the most essential props, and filmed for use by the illustrators. Animation takes a long time, and production of "Peter Pan" was in fact so protracted that even Hans Conried, who played and voiced Captain Hook (and Mr. Darling) was allowed to do some other screen work between his services on the project. [cite book |title=Hans Conried - a Biography; with a Filmography and a Listing of Radio, Television, Stage and Voice Work |last=Cargiulo |first=Suzanne |coauthors=Leonard Maltin (Foreword) |year=2002 |publisher=Mcfarland & Company, Inc. |location=Jefferson, North Carolina and London |isbn=ISBN 0-7864-1338-7 |pages= 73, 78-79, 105 ]



As Driscoll grew older, he began to drift further and further away from Walt Disney’s generally known personal conception of what epitomized a child star. In his biography on Disney Marc Elliot described him as the producer's favorite "life action" child star.

In additional words: "Walt often referred to Driscoll with great affection as the living embodiment of his own youth [...] " [ cite book |title=Walt Disney - Hollywood's Dark Prince - A Biography |last=Elliot |first=Marc |year=1993, 1994, 1995 |publisher=Andre Deutsch (publisher) Ltd., First (UK) Paperback edition |location=London |isbn=ISBN 0-233-98961-7 |pages=203 ]

However, during a project meeting following the completion of "Peter Pan", Disney now stated that he fancied the boy as a juvenile screen bully rather than the characters he had portrayed on the screen and which had leveraged him to stardom. Not only biographers, such as Leonard Mosley and Marc Elliot, but studio authorities, employees and directors (especially Byron Haskin and Richard Fleischer) as well, agreed in their memories that there was nothing that Walt Disney detested more than having costly, but unemployed workers on his payroll and compared to his salary, Driscoll had quite little to work from 1952 on.But Disney of all the people had been the one, who, still in February 1949, had issued the then twelve-years-old a two-years extension of his 1948 five-years contract, now running until 1956 and raising the boy's salary to $1750 per week, up from the $1250 weekly figure called for by the contract of the previous year. [cite news |title=$300-A-Week Smile - There Is a Film Santa |url= |publisher=Syracuse Herald Journal |date=1946-02-22 |accessdate=2008-09-02 , cite news |title=$400-A-Week |url= |publisher=Reno Evening Gazette |date=1947-02-14 |accessdate=2008-09-02 , cite news |title=New Contract For Boy Film Actor Approved |url= |publisher=unknown |date=1949-02 |accessdate=2008-09-02 ]

In early 1953 then, this internal matter called for a definitive decision to be made based on the aforementioned financial and business considerations, eventually resulting in a dropping of those additional two-years option in late March 1953, which was publicly understood as a premature termination, just weeks after "Peter Pan" was released theatrically. In addition a severe case of acne, accompanying the onset of his puberty [cite news |first=Barbara |last=Berch Jamison| |title=The Dangerous Years |url= |publisher=Motion Picture And Television Magazine |pages=47, 84 |date=April 1953|accessdate=2008-09-02 ] and explaining why it was necessary for Driscoll to use heavy makeup for his performances on dozens of TV shows, can attribute his fall from grace at Disney.

TV and radio

Cut loose from Disney and now well into in his adolescent years, Driscoll encountered increasing indifference from the other Hollywood studios. When no new offers appeared that would bring him back to the movie screen, he became more and more dispirited. Beginning in 1953 and for most of the next three years, the bulk of his work was confined to television on such anthology and drama series as Fireside Theatre, Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, Front Row Center, Navy Log, TV Readers Digest, Climax, Ford Theatre, Studio One, Dragnet, Medic and Zane Grey Theater. And in some special star focusing series he even enjoyed co-starring roles with such acting notables as Loretta Young, Gloria Swanson, and Jane Wyman.

Between 1948 and 1957, he also performed on a number of radio productions, which even included a special broadcast version of "Treasure Island" in January 1951 and of "Peter Pan" in December 1953.And as it was common practice in this business Bobby and his child partner Luana Patten did promotional radio gigs (starting in late 1946 for "Song Of The South") and toured the country on various parades and charity events through the years. [cite news |title=Flower Classes Open Tomorrow |url= |publisher=Los Angeles Times |date=1948-01-11 |accessdate=2008-09-02 , cite news |first=Hedda |last=Hopper |title=Santa Claus Lane Parad |url= |publisher=Los Angeles Times |date=1950-11-28 |accessdate=2008-09-02 , cite news |title=Block-long Flag to Mark Dimes Parade |url= |publisher=Los Angeles Times |date=1952-01-18 |accessdate=2008-09-02 , cite news |title=Back-To-School Show |url= |publisher=Los Angeles Times |date=1950-08-24 |accessdate=2008-09-02 ,]

In 1947, already, he recorded a special version of "So Dear To My Heart " at Capitol Records. [cite web |url= |title=Bobby On Air |accessdate=2008-09-02 | ] His reward for all of that would be in 1954 a "Milky Way Gold Star Award", chosen in a nationwide poll for his work on television and radio. [ cite news |title=Radio-TV Youth Win Top Awards |url= |publisher=Los Angeles Times |date=1954-03-18 |accessdate=2008-09-02 ]

"Washed up"

After leaving the Disney studios Driscoll's parents decided to withdraw their son from the talent supporting Hollywood Professional School, [cite news |first=Aline |last=Mosby |title=Pupils In Hollywood School Drew More pay Than Their Teachers |url= |publisher=The Coshocton Tribune (Ohio) |date= 1956-02-19 |accessdate=2008-09-02 , cite news |first=Aline |last=Mosby |title=Strangest Grammar School In Nation Found In Hollywood |url= |publisher=The Daily Courier, Cornellsville (Pennsylvania) |date=1956-02-18 |accessdate=2008-09-02 ] [cite web |url= |title=Hollywood Professional School |accessdate=2008-09-02 ] ["Hollywood Professional School at Wikipedia:"Hollywood Professional School"] [cite web |url= |title=Hollywood Professional School |accessdate=2008-09-02 |work=Seeing Stars ] which he had previously attended, and sent him to the public Westwood University High School instead. A substantial mistake, his mother later would admit to a reporter, [cite news |first=Barbara |last=Epstein |title=The Lonely OF Death Of a Star |url= |publisher=Movie Digest |location= |id= |pages=104 |page= |date=July 1972 |accessdate=2008-09-02 ] because there, he not only dropped from a straight A-sutdent to an average pupil, [cite news |first=Barbara |last=Berch Jamison| |title=The Dangerous Years |url= |publisher=Motion Picture And Television Magazine |pages=47, 84 |date=April 1953|accessdate=2008-09-02 ] but his former stardom additionally became more burden than advantage. Being ridiculed was commonplace, and he, as a former and now washed-up Disney star, was constantly made the target of the cruel remarks and barbs of jealous fellow students. Wishing only to gain acceptance in his new surroundings, he likely sought those outside the school's inner circle, which may have led him to his first experimentation with drugs in a desperate attempt at securing a place among his peers. [cite news |first=Barbara |last=Berch Jamison| |title=The Dangerous Years |url= |publisher=Motion Picture And Television Magazine |pages=47, 84 |date=April 1953|accessdate=2008-09-02 ] [cite news |first=Barbara |last=Epstein |title=The Lonely OF Death Of a Star |url= |publisher=Movie Digest |location= |id= |pages=104 |page= |date=July 1972 |accessdate=2008-09-02 ]

One of his most famous quotations from that time is: [ cite news |title=Little Discipline|url= |publisher=Violette Messenger, Valparaiso (Indiana) |date= 1958-05-27|accessdate=2008-09-02 ] [cite news |first=Barbara |last=Epstein |title=The Lonely OF Death Of a Star |url= |publisher=Movie Digest |pages=100-107 |date=July 1972 |accessdate=2008-09-02]

When the pressure and malice from his school-mates grew too hard to stay at this public school any longer, at his own request Driscoll returned just one year later to Hollywood Professional School, where in May 1955 he finally graduated. [cite web |url= |title=Bobby's graduation at Hollywood Professional School |accessdate=2008-09-02 | ] However, the damage was done.In no time he was hooked on narcotics, and growing ever more dependent on them, he fatally turned mainly to heroin. His still healthy bank account provided an almost automatic pipeline of cash to the pushers.

1956 was the year of his first brush with the law, when he was arrested for possession of marijuana. But the charge was dismissed. [cite news |title=Bobby Driscoll, Friend Denies Narcotic Charge - This Is No Act |url= |publisher=Los Angeles Times |date= 1956-07-12 |accessdate=2008-09-02 , cite news |first=Hedda |last=Hopper |title=Serious Matter |url= |publisher= Los Angeles Times |date=1956-07-24 |accessdate=2008-09-02 , cite news |title=Actor Bobby Driscoll, 19, Seized On Dope Charge |url= |publisher=Los Angeles Times |date=1956-07-11 |accessdate=2008-09-02 , cite news |title=Narcotic Charge Dismissed |url= |publisher=Reno Evening Gazette |date=1956-07-17 |accessdate=2008-09-02 ]

On July 24 1956, Hedda Hopper wrote in the Los Angeles Times: [ cite news |first=Hedda |last=Hopper |title=Serious Matter |url= |publisher=Los Angeles Times |date=1956-07-24 |accessdate=2008-09-02 ] "This could cost this fine lad and good actor his career."

In fact, this incident had a deep impact on his career.Television producers now disapproved of him to such an extent that, in 1957, he could gain just one TV-part: the loyal brother of a criminal immigrant in "M Squad", a long-running crime series which starred Lee Marvin.

And it was in December of the same year that he and his girlfriend, Marilyn Jean Rush, (occasionally misspelled as "Brush") eloped to Mexico to be married. This furtiveness was necessary because they knew that both sets of parents would strenuously object to the marriage. But the couple was later re-wed in a Los Angeles ceremony that took place in March 1957. [ cite news |title=Actor Driscoll reveals To Plan To Rewed Girl, 19 |url= |publisher=Los Angeles Times |date=1957-03-09 |accessdate=2008-09-02 , cite news |title=Actor Driscoll Needs Job As Clerk To Finance Marriage |url= |publisher=Newport Daily News (Rhode Island) |date=1957-03-09 |accessdate=2008-09-02 ] Three children resulted from the union, which culminated, first, in a separation, and finally in a 1960 divorce. [ cite news |title=The Long Road back - Bobby Driscoll, a Film Star At 6, An Addict At 17, Sent To Chino |url= |publisher=Los Angeles Time |date=1961-10-19 |accessdate=2008-09-02 ]

Final roles and end of career

"The Scarlet Coat" and "The Party Crashers"

Electing to use his birth name of "Robert" [ cite news |first=Bob |last=Thomas |title=Hollywood ... |url= |publisher=Violette Messenger, Valparaiso (Indiana) |date=1958-05-27 |accessdate=2008-09-02 ] in an attempt to distance himself from the youngish-sounding "Bobby," he managed to land two final screen roles, even in spite of the negative headlines, which would follow from 1956 on. In the first, he was featured with Cornell Wilde in the 1955 release entitled "The Scarlet Coat", and in the second, he performed opposite Mark Damon and Connie Stevens in "The Party Crashers" (1958). [ cite news |first=Bob |last=Thomas |title=Bobby Driscoll Hopes To Rebuild Film Life |url= |publisher=Violette Messenger, Valparaiso (Indiana) |date=1958-05-27 |accessdate=2008-09-02 , cite news |title=Actors Seem More Intent, State Stars |url= |publisher=Van Nuys News (California) |date=1958-08-21 |accessdate=2008-09-02 ] Thereafter, his life became more and more a roller coaster ride, one which included several additional encounters with the law that led to his eventual sentencing late in 1961 as a drug addict and his imprisonment at the Narcotic Rehabilitation Center of the California State Penitentiary at Chino. His very last known appearances on TV were small roles in two, single-season series: "The Best of the Post", a syndicated anthology series adapted from stories published in the Saturday Evening Post magazine, and "The Brothers Brennagan", an unsuccessful crime series.Both were originally aired on November 5, 1960.

When Driscoll left Chino in early 1962, clean and eager to make a comeback, he was now ignored by the industry that once had raised and nurtured him, solely because of his record as a convict and former drug addict.

Embittered by his treatment by Hollywood, he said:"I have found that memories are not very useful. I was carried on a silver platter (satin cushion) ... and then dumped into the garbage (can)."

New York City and death

Scarcely one year after his parole expired in 1964, he relocated to New York, hoping to revive his career on the Broadway stage, only to find that his reputation had preceded him and no one wanted to hire him there, either. [cite web |url= |title=His mother on his downslide |accessdate=2008-09-02 |work=The Lonely Death Of A Star (on |publisher=Movie Digest |date=July 1972 ]

He became part of Andy Warhol's so-called Greenwich Village art community, also known as The Factory, [cite web |url= |title=Bobby Driscoll sitting on a couch (on portfolio, page 38, third row - it's the last known photograph of him, ca. late) 1967 |accessdate=2008-09-02 |work=OvoWorks, New York City - Official Homepage ] where he began focusing on his artistic talents. He had previously been encouraged to do so by famed artist and poet Wallace Berman, whom he had befriended after joining Berman's art circle (also known as Semina Culture) in Los Angeles in 1956. Some of his works were considered outstanding, [cite web |url= |title=SEMINA CULTURE - Wallace Berman & His Circle |accessdate=2008-09-02 |work=Umbrella Exhibition Catalogue, vol. 28, no.2-3 |date=October 2005 ] [cite web |url= |title=A Return Trip to a Faraway Place Called Underground |accessdate=2008-09-02 |publisher=The New York Times online |date=1972-01-26 ] and a few of his surviving collages and cardboard mailers were temporarily exhibited in Los Angeles at the Santa Monica Museum of Art. [cite web |url= |title=Santa Monica Museum Of Art - Official Homepage |accessdate=2008-09-02 ] [cite book |title=SEMINA CULTURE - Wallace Berman & His Circle |last=Duncan |first=Michael |coauthors=McKenna, Christine |year=2005 |publisher=Santa Monica Museum Of Art |location=Los Angeles |pages=132-135, 233 ]

It was in 1965, early on in his tenure at The Factory, that Driscoll gave his last known performance, that being in experimental filmmaker Piero Heliczer's Underground movie "Dirt". [cite web |url= |title=DIRT- Review and a downloadable clip of the so-called "Bath-sequence" |accessdate=2008-09-02 ]

Scarcely anything is known about the last months of his life, except that he left Andy Warhol's entourage and The Factory in late 1967 or very early 1968 and, completely penniless and disillusioned, disappeared into Manhattan's underground. On March 30 1968, just about three weeks after his 31st birthday, two playing boys found his dead body in a deserted East Village tenement on East 10th St. The medical examination determined that he died from heart failure caused by an advanced hardening of the arteries [cite web |url= |title=The cause of his death |accessdate=2008-09-02 | ] due to longtime drug abuse. There was no ID on the body, and photos taken of it and shown around the neighborhood yielded no positive identification.

When his body went unclaimed and was believed to be that of a homeless person, he was buried in an unmarked pauper's grave on NYC's Potter's Field on Hart Island. [cite web |url= |title=Hart Island (Potter's Field) - Official Homepage (controlled by the "Department Of Correction" and wth that inaccessable to visitors) |accessdate=2008-09-02 ] [cite web |url= |title=The Hart Island Project |accessdate=2008-09-02 ]

Late in 1969, about nineteen months after Driscoll's demise, his mother sought the help of officials at the Disney studios in a desperate attempt to contact him for a hoped-for reunion with his father, who was near death. This eventually resulted in a fingerprint match at NYPD, which located him on Hart Island. Although his name appears on his father's gravestone at Eternal Hills Memorial Park in Oceanside, it is merely a cenotaph. [cite web |url= |title=Bobby Driscoll's page |accessdate=2008-09-02 |work=Find A Grave ] since his remains still rest on Hart Island.

Bobby Driscoll's death was not publicly acknowledged until the re-release of his first Disney classic, "Song Of The South", in 1971/72. Reporters decided to research the whereabouts of the film's major cast members, and it was through an interview with his mother that they learned the facts about his short life and tragic death. [cite news |first=Marylin |last=Beck |title=With Re-Release Of Disney Film - Child Star's Tragic Death Described |url= |publisher=The Lima News (California) |date=1971-07-14 |accessdate=2008-09-02 , cite news |first=Donna |last=Larson |title=Bobby Driscoll Won't Be Around For Reissue Of SONG OF THE SOUTH |url= |publisher=Los Angeles Times |date=1972-02-13 |accessdate=2008-09-02 , cite news |first=Barbara |last=Epstein |title=The Lonely OF Death Of a Star |url= |publisher=Movie Digest |location= |id= |pages=98-107 |page= |date=July 1972 |accessdate=2008-09-02 ]


Filmography (in order of release)

Radio shows / on air

(This is not necessarily a complete list, it only displays all of those radio-shows, which could be located and verified until now.) [ [ Radio Shows/On Air] ]

ee also

* Wallace Berman (painting mentor)
* List of drug-related deaths


References/Further reading


Leonard Maltin,The Disney Films,copyright by Leonard Maltin, 1973,Crown Publishers Inc., New York, - Third Printing, 1974,Library Of Congress Library Card No. 72-84292ISBN unknown - pages 74, 76, 78, 83-85, 87-88, 97-100, 107


Byron Haskin - interviewed by Joe Adamson, copyright by The Director's Guild Of America and The Scarecrow Press, Inc. Metuchen, N.Y. and London, 1984, ISBN 0-8108-1740-3 - pages 166-186

* On WHEN I GROW UP - 1951

Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni,Sam Spiegel - The incredible life and times of Hollywood's most iconoclastic producer [...] ,copyright by Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni, 2003,Simon & Schuster, New York, London, Toronto, Sydney, Singapore, ISBN 0-684-83619-X - pages 119-20, 134, 143, 267, 361

* On THE HAPPY TIME - 1952

Richard Fleischer,Just Tell Me When To Cry - a Memoir,copyright by Richard Fleischer, 1993,Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., New York,ISBN 0-881-84944-8 - pages 79-83, 103

* On PETER PAN - 1953Suzanne Cargiulo (Foreword by Leonard Maltin)Hans Conried - a Biography; with a Filmography and a Listing of Radio, Television, Stage and Voice Work,copyright by Suzanne Cargiulo, 2002,Mcfarland & Company, Inc., Jefferson, North Carolina and London,ISBN 0-7864-1338-7 - pages 73, 78-79, 105


Michael Duncan and Christine McKenna, SEMINA CULTURE - Wallace Berman & His Circle,Santa Monica Museum Of Art, 2005,ISBN unknown - pages 132-135, 233


Marc Elliot,Walt Disney - Hollywood's Dark Prince - A Biography,copyright by Marc Elliot, 1993, 1994,Andre Deutsch (publisher) Ltd.,First (UK) Paperback edition, London, 1995,ISBN 0-233-98961-7

Leonard Mosley,The Real Walt Disney - A Biography,copyright by Leonard Msoley 1985,Grafton Books, London, Glasgow, Toronto, Sydney, Auckland, 1986ISBN 0-246-12439-3

Rudy Behlmer,MEMO from David O. Selznick - selected and edited by Rudy Behlmer,The Viking Press, New York and Macmillan Company of Canada Ltd.,copyright by Selznick Properties, Ltd., 1972,ISBN unknown - pages 43n, 310, 431

External links

* [ A Tribute to Bobby Driscoll] Unofficial Homepage
* [ Find-A-Grave profile for Bobby Driscoll]
* [ Bobby Driscoll A Forgotten Life]

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