Friday, January 13, 2012

wacky tacky icons: Tommy Kirk

Tommy Kirk

Tommy Kirk was born in 1941 and the world has never been the same.  He is known for his tender portrayal of Travis Coates in Old Yeller, a telepathic brainiac in The Misadventure of Merlin Jones, and a martian in search of earth women in two films....?!?!  That's right, a martian in search of earth women in both Pajama Party and Mars Needs Women.  He began his Hollywood career at age 13 and, as is the case with many child stars, he had a difficult time transitioning from adolescence into adulthood.  At wacky tacky we choose not to gravitate toward the pejorative.  Instead, we delight in the fantastic film career of a true wacky tacky icon.

Tommy Kirk developed his "boy next door" sensibility at Disney in such films as:

"The Hardy Boys" (1956-1957)
A serial on The Mickey Mouse Club

Old Yeller (1957)

The Shaggy Dog (1959)

Swiss Family Robinson (1960)

The Absent Minded Professor (1961)

Babes in Toyland (1961)

Bon Voyage (1962)

The Misadventures of Merlin Jones (1964)

The Monkey's Uncle (1965)

He earned his wacky tacky credibility with masterpieces like:

Pajama Party (1964)

Village of the Giants (1965)

The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966)

Mars Needs Women (1967)

In 2009, the D23 COnvention was held in Anaheim, CA.  My good friend invited me to go and the highlight of the day was getting to meet Tommy Kirk!

We got to meet Tommy at the D23 Expo.
Would you believe that he posed for this one?

Okay, so he didn't pose for the photo.
But he did film a "Get Well" message for our friend, Lisa.

For Christmas, I received a very special gift.  It was a hardbound copy of The Misadventures of Merlin Jones based on the 1964 film of the same name.  Now I don't like to brag, but yes, it is a first edition.

"Merlin Jones" is one of my favorite movies for many reasons; not the least of which is the inspired pairing of Tommy Kirk with fellow wacky tacky icon, Annette Funicello.  Their combined star power was so great that even after both had left the Disney Studios, they continued to make movie magic at American International Pictures. 

Kirk as "Dop" in Mars Needs Women

Examining Kirk's motivation for his strange career choices - including a full, rubber bodysuit with metal earmuffs - one wonders "why."  There has to be a reason.  Uh oh, I feel a song coming on.  Take it away Tommy and Annette...

"There Has to be a Reason"
Pajama Party (1964)


Mr. Tiny


  1. I can not tell you how many times I watched Old Yeller as a kid. I knew I recognized that face the second I saw it!

  2. I still can't believe we met Tommy Kirk. I don't even remember if I said anything to him! Such a weird encounter...

  3. You didn't have to say anything. I think when you genuflected and kissed his ring, mere words would have spoiled the moment!

  4. He's openly gay, I read. Must have been hard for someone who grew up in that era.