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Disney's Bobby Driscoll


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An exhibition of the works of Modern Artist Wallace Berman will be held at The Santa Monica Museum of Art, in association with The Getty Museum, beginning September 16, 2005. Mr. Berman's collected works and papers are held at The Smithsonian Museum's Hirschhorn Museum of Modern Art. Among the works on display at The Santa Monica Museum of Art will be paintings by Mr. Berman's friends, colleagues and students.

Bob Driscoll was a friend and colleague of Mr. Berman, three of the paintings on display were painted by Bob Driscoll. One of the paintings in the Smithsonian's Berman Collection is by Bob Driscoll.


Too many people have never taken Bobby seriously, after viewing his art you can only begin to fathom the depth of Bobby's soul. Bobby had three kids, who, I'm sure would prefer people remember their Dad for the kind, gentle, though troubled soul that he was, than he problems he had.





Bobby Driscoll won an Oscar for "The Window," RKO/1949: a movie Bobby made when he was 10, a movie which Howard Hughes shelved for two years because he was sure it was going to be flop, a movie which actually turned out to be the sleeper hit of the year 1949(only released because Hughes shut down RKO to weed out Communists and needed a film, any film, to meet screening committments, obviously he picked the right one). "Howie" didn't find any "commies," but managed to destroy a studio. Actually, there was a happy ending of sorts, Lucy and Desi were able to pick up the derelict studio for a song and turned it into Desilu, the studio which created "Mission Impossible" and "Star Trek". A few years later Lucy and Desi were able to sell the studio to paramount for more than five times what they paid for it. Lucy and Desi were brilliant commedians and business people.

And Bobby had the greatest success of his career, earning film critic Bosley Crowther of The New York Times highest complement: "Bobby Driscoll is a brilliant actor."


Which is a much accurate opinion than Walt Disney's

By Susan King, LA Times Staff Writer

The director of the Disney classic recalls Captain Nemo, the Nautilus and an uncooperative giant squid.



Director Richard Fleischer never thought he would work for Walt Disney. His father, animator Max Fleischer, was Disney's greatest competitor, having created such beloved cartoon characters as Betty Boop and Popeye.


So Fleischer was shocked when he received a call half a century ago from Disney asking him to direct the studio's lavish live-action adaptation of the Jules Verne adventure, "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea."


"It was really stunning to me," Fleischer recalls. "I went up and met him and he offered me this giant picture. It was a great opportunity for me. I said, 'You do know who I am?' He said, 'Of course, that doesn't make any difference to me.' "


Fleischer, though, was curious why Disney decided to "select me of all people to direct this picture?" Disney, says Fleischer, told him he had seen a picture he had directed called "The Happy Time" with Bobby Driscoll, the child star who had appeared in several Disney films, including "Song of the South" and "Treasure Island."


"He said, 'Anybody who can make an actor out of Bobby Driscoll has got to be a great director.' Those were his exact words!"


Every movie Bob made for Disney, was a hit and made money. This conversation between Fleischer and Walt Disney occured in 1954. Bobby had already won an Oscar in 1949 at 12, I guess Walt just forgot.




As everyone knows, Bobby's career was destroyed by a bad case of acne, which precipitated a downward spiral, which led to Bob's death in March 1968. Bob actually lived in an abandoned tenement at 371 East 10th Street in Greenwich Village less than a mile from his friend and mentor Andy Warhol's Studio in Union Square(The Factory).

Bob Driscoll lies buried in an unmarked grave on Hart Island New York City's Pauper's Cemetery. The cemetery has over 1,000,000 graves and is run by The New York Department of Corrections which allows no visitors to its cemetery, popularly known as a "prison for the dead." Huge "No Visitors" signs dot the landscape. That is no way to remember anyone, Hart Island should be turned into a park


A picture of Bob Driscoll taken by Andy Warhol Staff Photographer "Billy Name" circa 1965/1966 can be found on Billy Names web page


go to Portfolio

page 38.


This is certainly one of the last picture ever taken of Bobby Driscoll.




The Santa Monica Museum of Art



A Personal Note:


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 as the friend. Everybody that knew Bob 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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