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Bobby Driscoll, a great forgotten actor and person.

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It's funny, when you are writing a book about someone, you either really get to know them, or you don't. Success is when you are able to portray them as a living, breathing human being because that is the way you see them. Failure is when they remain words on a page, simply someone you heard about, and all you are doing is repeating what you heard.

Tommy Kirk gave an interview in Scarlet Street about his first acting job at the Pasadena Playhouse in Eugene O'Neill's "Ah Wilderness!" Three times in the space of a couple of paragraphs, Tommy speaks about how thoughtful and kind seventeen-year-old Bobby Driscoll was to him, a thirteen-year-old boy in his first acting job. Tommy had the jitters, but he was lucky that Bobby was there to help him through it. Just like an older brother would...

Bobby had a wife and three kids. I think that they would prefer people not remember Bobby for the way he died, but remember him for the way he lived...

 

Bobby Driscoll March 3, 1937- March 30, 1968

Bobby was among the best child actors ever. He won a Special Academy Award for his performance in the great film noir "The Window" (1949). He also starred in the best version of Treasure Island (1950) ever made. One of his last movie performances was as the voice of Peter in Peter Pan (1953) in the Walt Disney Classic. Two of his movies were #1 at the box office, ?Song of the South? (1946) and ?Peter Pan? (1953). ?Peter Pan? was the second highest grossing movie of the entire 1950?s.

When he hit puberty, his voice changed and he developed a severe case of acne. After that he was only able to find bit parts, but, eventually, he couldn't even find those. One of his last starring roles was on the TV show Medic/Laughter is a Boy (1954, when he was 17). He was terrific in it. Whatever was wrong with Bobby?s career had nothing to do with him, or his acting.

Hollywood loves cute little kids, but has no use for them as adults. Where once Bobby had too many roles and not enough time, he came to a point where there were no roles and all he had was time. What a waste of talent and what a cruel way to treat someone. Bobby?s life was pure Shakespearean Tragedy after he turned 18. Hollywood should be ashamed of what happened to him, because no one ever doubted that he was a great actor. But, as "Fernando" once said on Saturday Night Live, ?it is better to look good, than to be good.?

The cruel irony is that whenever anyone remembers

Bobby today, they always start the conversation talking about the fact that he died in a tenement on the lower east side of New York City, just like the setting of his best film ?The Window.? That is the movie for which he won an Oscar when he was 12-years-old. They miss the point entirely. He was so much more than that, and the one role for which he deserved recognition, was as Bobby Driscoll, the son, the husband, and the father, but most of all the friend. Everybody that knew Bobby Driscoll liked him. The people who knew him best loved him.

 

When times were bad, he bore his problems and his pain alone. That is why he turned to drugs, and that was what destroyed him. Somebody should have told Bobby, friendship means that you share everything...

 

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That is a wonderful tribute to an outstanding child star.

I admired Bobby Driscoll from the beginning when he starred as the youngest Sullivan boy in "The Fighting Sullivans". You knew then that he had a special gift for acting naturally. Other than the other fine films you mention he also shined in Disney's "So Dear To My Heart".

Myself and other members have discussed Mr. Driscoll many times on the boards in the Child Star category and it was always thumbs-up for this amazing kid.

Although it was unfortunate and heartbreaking how he eventually ended up I will always remember him as one of the brightest child stars ever. It's too bad Hollywood didn't give him the chance to graduate into adult roles

which I'm certain he could have handled with ease.

Rest in peace Bobby Driscoll and thanks for some wonderful performances.

 

Mongo

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This is a beautiful tribute to a fantastic person who also happened to be one of the best child actors ever. I hope that your opening sentence means that you have started to write a book about Bobby. I'll buy it! Thank you so much for your post.

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While I certainly feel for Bobby Driscoll, and don't want to speak ill of him, I can only say that Treasure Island from 1950 does not hold a candle to MGM's Treasure Island from 1934, and his performance falls well short of what Jackie Cooper managed to pull off along side Wallace Beery. Only the performance of Robert Newton redeems that 1950 version in any way. IMO.

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The always-wonderful?wide-eyed, eager, and innocent Bobby Driscoll is a perfect Jim Hawkins in this thrilling Disney Masterpiece (a British Review of Treasure Island).

 

Bobby Driscoll is ?Jim Hawkins? Bosley Crowther, The New York Times. Again, Bobby earns the highest possible praise from America?s best film critic.

 

It is one of Disney's all-time best live-action films, and a truly outstanding adventure. (Leonard Maltin)

 

?Treasure Island? is a great movie. Robert Newton?s Long John Silver will go down as some of the most wonderful overacting ever seen in film. This was a movie made for kids, and, it was meant to be exciting and fun. At that, it succeeds brilliantly. It?s funny to note that it falls to Jim Hawkins, to be the serious character. Bobby?s ?Jim Hawkins? is self-confident, adventuresome and fearless. He believes in himself and is more than willing to take a chance. Jim is the first one to abandon his boring life as a servant at his mother?s Inn, for high adventure at sea. You can?t have an adventure, without an adventurer. For kids in the theater to identify with Jim, Bobby has to be absolutely convincing, and he is. His character may be the youngest character in the movie, but he is one of the few characters who acts like an adult. Except for Long John Silver and Dr. Livesey, every other adult is either unlikable, dishonest or a buffoon. That is why the movie continues to be so popular among kids even today. (Brian Keith O'Hara/Bobby Driscoll: You Saw The Whole of the Moon)

 

To play Jim Hawkins, Disney hired a child actor named Bobby Driscoll, who had the distinction of being the first actor ever put under an exclusive, long-term contract with Disney. Driscoll had a reputation for genius: In 1949, at age 12, Driscoll won a special Academy Award for his delicate, terrified performance as a compulsive liar who witnesses a murder in The Window.

Driscoll was born in Iowa, and made no attempts to play Hawkins with anything but his native Iowan accent in Treasure Island, and as a result his character is very different than the high-mannered cabin boy of Stevenson's novel. This Hawkins is a tough little Boy Scout, a more congenial version of Tom Sawyer. (Sawyer, it must be said, would certainly have sided with the pirates for most of the tale). But it is a great performance nonetheless. Driscoll had fine, sharp features, including arched, elegant eyebrows and an expressive face, and he neatly telegraphs all of Hawkins' contradictory emotions, particularly regarding Silver, who he both dotes on and despises.

This knowledge adds an unexpected, bitter poignancy to the 1950 production of Treasure Island. The film's two Bobby's, Newton and Driscoll, act opposite each other with obvious, unfeigned affection, and it is this affection, more than any other single detail, that converts the film's Long John Silver from murderous mutineer to genial, harmless rogue. We do not for a moment believe that he would harm Jim Hawkins, and, in dialogue added to the film, he repeatedly tells us exactly that. In fact, in another scene added for the film, Silver is responsible for giving Hawkins the very pistol with which the boy will defend himself against the homicidal advances of Israel Hand. Early on in the movie, when a crewmember is chastised for bringing a contraband pistol aboard the Hispaniola, Driscoll opens his leather vest to peer at his own pistol, also contraband. He sadly informs Newton that he will have to turn the pistol in, but Newton, a broad smile creasing his battered face, convinces the boy that there can be no danger in keeping the firearm. After all, Newton tells him, you don't take to the rum, do you? (Max Sparber ? 2003/Kings Pirate Cove)

 

 

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>> He also starred in the best version of Treasure Island (1950) ever made. <<

 

That was your opinion and I gave you mine. I have read the book numerous times and I have seen the 1934 movie just as many. I also own the recent DVD of the 1950 version and have watched it twice. I'm comfortable with my opinion and I don't feel the need to trot out any reviewers, paid or otherwise, to help validate it.

 

That said, I agree with this comment from Christopher Null at filmcritic.com ... "Pity then that the only reason this kid-friendly Island is truly memorable is Newton. The story is short

and mishandled."

 

BTW, disagreeing with your opinion doesn't stop me from wishing you good luck with your project.

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