Bobby Driscoll

In 1935, Shirley Temple was one of the first young performers to win a special juvenile Oscar — a tradition that continued until the 1961 Academy Awards ceremony. Driscoll, who was born in 1937, won such a special statuette for his work in 1949’s provocative thriller “The Window.” Called the “Wonder Child” because of his naturalness on screen and his ability to memorize lines, Walt Disney personally put him under contract in 1945. He made a big splash in the 1947 live-action/animated musical “Song of the South.” He appeared in several films for Disney including “So Dear to My Heart” and “Treasure Island.” He also provided the voice of Peter in the animated “Peter Pan.” Shortly after “Peter Pan” was released, Driscoll’s contract with Disney was dropped — it has been alleged his severe acne was part of the reason. Having difficulties dealing with the ridicule he got at high school for being a “washed up” movie star, he turned to drugs and was arrested for marijuana possession in 1956. Though he did get an occasional role, by 1961 he was incarcerated in the Narcotic Rehabilitation Center of the California State Penitentiary at Chino. He moved to New York in 1964 and became part of Andy Warhol’s artistic group the Factory. He left the Factory penniless in late 1967 or early 1968. On March 30, 1968, three weeks after his 31st birthday, two boys came upon his dead body while they were playing at a deserted East Village tenement. The medical examiner claimed he died from heart failure due to his years on drugs. Because he had no ID on him, Driscoll’s body went unclaimed and was buried in an unmarked grave. Nineteen months after his death, his mother called Disney studios in hope of finding him because his father was dying. A fingerprint match with the NYPD identified that unclaimed body as Driscoll. He is still buried at Potters’ Field on Hart Island.
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