Bobby Driscoll: The Tragic Life and Death of the Former Disney Film Child Star of "Song of the South" and "Peter Pan"

Herbie J Pilato

Actor Bobby Driscoll found stardom at only 9 years old when after winning a leading role in the now-controversial Walt Disney feature film Song of the South (1946). He went on to win an Academy Award at 12 years old, and by the time he turned 16, Driscoll lent his voice to Peter Pan (1953), Disney's animated movie about a boy who has no desire to mature. But sadly, in his later years, Driscoll struggled with drug abuse and died without a dollar to his name in 1968.

A Closer Look

Bobby Driscol was the first actor to sign a long-term contract with Walt Disney's animation department. But despite that agreement, the studio ended his follow-up contract three years early, in 1953, weeks after the theatrical release of Peter Pan. Allegedly, that decision was made due to Driscoll's severe acne.

Due to his performance as Jim Hawkins in Disney's big-screen epic, Treasure Island (released in 1950), Driscoll eventually received his Hollywood Star on 1560 Vine Street.

In 1954, he was selected in a nationwide poll for a "Milky Way Gold Star Award" for his work on television and radio.

In time, Driscoll had struggles with the law and drugs. Consequently, an acting comeback on film and the stage failed. In 1965, he made a final film appearance in Piero Heliczer's Underground short, Dirt. By this time, however, he was also downhearted and dirt-poor.

On March 30, 1968, two playing children discovered his lifeless body in an abandoned East Village tenement. Assumed to be an unclaimed and homeless man, Driscoll was buried in an unmarked pauper's grave on Hart Island.

A tragic ending to an actor's life who brought so much joy and entertainment to audiences of every kind around the world.

[Note: Certain facts and information in this article were resourced from various entertainment news and media outlets including,,,,, and]

This is original content from NewsBreak’s Creator Program. Join today to publish and share your own content.

Comments / 1

Published by

Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including RETRO ACTIVE TELEVISION, THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA

More from Herbie J Pilato

Comments / 0