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'Old Yeller,' 'Swiss Family' star Tommy Kirk dies at 79

'Old Yeller,' 'Swiss Family' star Tommy Kirk dies at 79
Photo courtesy of Pixnio

Sept. 29 (UPI) -- Tommy Kirk, who acted in a series of family films as a child in the '50s and '60s, died Tuesday in his Las Vegas, Nev. home. He was 79.

Actor Paul Petersen II first shared the news on Facebook. TMZ confirmed with law enforcement.

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Neighbor Bev Washburn, who co-starred with Kirk in the movie Old Yeller, notified Petersen. Kirk played a boy who befriended the title dog in the 1957 tear-jerker.

Born Dec. 10, 1941, Kirk also appeared in films The Shaggy Dog, Swiss Family Robinson, The Absent Minded Professor and its sequel, Son of Flubber.

Kirk continued to act in film and television regularly until 1975's My Name Is Legend. His last credit was the 2001 horror film, The Education of a Vampire.

Petersen wrote that Kirk lived alone and was estranged from his blood relatives because he was gay. Petersen said he and Kirk's friends would handle final arrangements.

"Please know that Tommy Kirk loved you, his fans," Petersen wrote. "You lifted him up when an Industry let him down in 1965. He was not bitter. His church comforted him."

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Notable deaths of 2021

Lee Elder is introduced before the ceremonial tee shot to start the Masters Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., on April 8, 2021. Elder, the first Black man to play in the Masters Tournament, died on November 29 at the age of 87. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

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