Tommy Kirk was a star at Disney Studios in the early 1960s but there were issues "I knew I was gay, but I had no outlet for my feelings," he said " I consider my teenage years as being desperately unhappy. I knew I was gay, but I had no outlet for my feelings. It was very hard to meet people, and, at that time, there was no place to go to socialize. It wasn't until the early '60s that I began to hear of places where gays congregated. The lifestyle was not recognized, and I was very, very lonely. Oh, I had some brief, very passionate encounters and as a teenager, I had some affairs, but they were always stolen, back alley kind of things. They were desperate and miserable. When I was about 17 or 18 years old, I finally admitted to myself that I wasn't going to change. I didn't know what the consequences would be, but I had the definite feeling that it was going to wreck my Disney career and maybe my whole acting career. It was all going to come to an end.”
He added that “It was very hard to meet people, and, at that time, there was no place to go to socialize. It wasn't until the early '60s that I began to hear of places where gays congregated."
While filming The Misadventures of Merlin Jones, in 1964, Kirk started seeing a 15-year-old boy he had met at a local swimming pool in Burbank. Tommy was 22 years old. The boys mother found out and reported the affair to Disney Studios “the boy's mother went to Walt," he said "I was quickly fired."
Disney didn’t renew Tommy’s contract "Even more than MGM, Disney was the most conservative studio in town.... The studio executives were beginning to suspect my homosexuality. Certain people were growing less and less friendly. In 1963, Disney let me go. But Walt asked me to return for the final Merlin Jones movie, The Monkey's Uncle, because the Jones films had been moneymakers for the studio." (The film earned earning $4 million in rentals in North America alone, an astounding sum at the time)
Tommy made a few more film outside of Disney. But on Christmas Eve 1964, he was arrested for suspicion of possession of marijuana, a hefty crime at the time, especially for a movie star. The DA dropped the grass charges but since officer also found barbiturates (in what was probably an illegal search and seizure) he was charged with possession of illegal drugs, which wasn’t true. The actor produced proof that the drugs had been prescribed by a physician. But it really didn’t matter. The 1960s were far more conservative than they are portrayed, and he was fired from several film in the making. He bounced back but fell victim to drug addiction and gave up acting in the mid-1970s. “I was drinking, taking pills and smoking grass. In fact, I was pretty wild. I came into a whole lot of money, but I threw a lot of parties and spent it all. I wound up completely broke. I had no self-discipline and I almost died of a drug overdose a couple of times. It's a miracle that I'm still around. All of that didn't help the situation. Nobody would touch me; I was considered box office poison”
The days when he earned more than $1,000 a week were over. (That would be roughly $6,000 a week today) To get by he worked as a waiter, a chauffeur and a carpet cleaner in the San Fernando “I made a lot of money and I spent it all.” He said “No bitterness. No regrets. I did what I did... I wasn't the boy next door anymore. I could pretend to be for a few hours a day in front of the camera. But I couldn't live it. I'm human. I'm not Francis of Assisi. I don’t blame anybody but myself and my drug abuse for my career going haywire. I’m not ashamed of being gay, never have been, and never will be. For that I make no apologies. I have no animosity toward anybody because the truth is, I wrecked my own career.”