ByKarly Rayner, writer at
Movie Pilot's celebrity savant
Karly Rayner

It's tempting to think that formed Disney stars descending into drugs, ripping their clothes off and getting thrown in the slammer is a purely modern phenomenon, but the likes of Lindsay Lohan, Miley Cyrus and Shia LeBeouf are part of a long line of Disney rebels.

It's been proven time and time again that piling the pressure of showbiz onto the underdeveloped shoulders of a child isn't the best idea in terms of mental health, and here are some of the cautionary tales we could have learned from decades ago.

Johnny Crawford

Disney Fame: Los Angeles born Johnny Crawford was one of the original crops of Mouseketeers in 1955, although he was dropped after the first season when the kids were reduced from 24 to just 12.

Scandal: Crawford went on to earn the dubious title of the first man to pose nude for Playboy magazine, and his full-frontal pose didn't hide anything.

He also starred in the 1973 quasi-porn flick, The Naked Ape, produced by Hugh Hefner and exploring human evolution with a focus on sexuality.

Bobby Driscoll

Disney Fame: Bobby Driscoll is best known for voicing Peter Pan in the Disney animation, but he also starred in Songs of the South and Treasure Island.

Scandal: When puberty hit cherubic Bobby, Disney dropped him like a ton of bricks. Needless to say, the young actor didn't cope well.

Instead, he span into a vicious spiral of alcohol and drug abuse at a shockingly young age and was a heroin addict when he was just 17. Driscoll died aged just 31 and his body was found in an abandoned tenement surrounding by empty alcohol bottles and religious pamphlets by children who were playing there.

He was buried in a paupers grave because nobody came forward to claim his body and the tragic corpse's true identity was only learned a year after he was discovered.

If you want to read more about the impossibly tragic life of Bobby Driscoll, you can read my article here.

Darlene Gillespie

Disney Fame: Darlene was a member of the original troupe of Mouseketeers and was given the starring role in the first Mickey Mouse Club spinoff show, Corky and the White Shadow.

Scandal: Often referred to as Disney's bad seed, Gillespie felt let down by the company after she did not obtain the superstardom she was promised as a 14-year-old girl. In fact, Gillespie was so infuriated with Disney that she attempted to sue her former employers in 1990 for withholding royalties, but the case initially flopped. She was however offered an undisclosed settlement in 2008.

Later, she was unfortunate enough to fall in love with a serial conman named Jerry Fraschilla and was so enthralled by him that she was led to embark on a life of crime. Gillespie was arrested for shoplifting and sentenced to community service, but her true downfall came in the form of fraud.

In 1998 the couple was arrested and accused of committing conspiracy, securities fraud, mail fraud, obstruction of justice, and perjury. Gillespie was charged as Fraschilla's accomplice and given two years in the slammer.

Thankfully, she is now back on the straight and narrow and enjoying her retirement and doting on her two twin grandchildren.

Matthew Garber

Disney Fame: I'm sure everyone remembers Garber as the delightfully mischievous Michael Banks in Mary Poppins.

Scandal: Tragically, Garber died when hepatitis spread to his pancreas when he was just 21-years-old. Surprisingly, this was swept under the rug by Disney for at least seven years after his death.

Rumor has it that this is due to drugs playing an involvement in the young actor contracting hepatitis, although his brother Fergus has always strongly denied this and said that spoiled meat was probably to blame.

It is probably the circumstances of his death that gave the Disney company a desperation to hide their backs, Garber contracted the disease on the hippie trail in India which was notorious for drug use at the time.

Doreen Tracey

Disney Fame: British born Doreen was one of the original clan of Mouseketeers.

Scandal: Doreen raised plenty of eyebrows when she posed totally nude for men's magazine, Gallery, not once but twice.

Although it's more interesting than scandalous, this Disney wild child also sang lead vocals in a Filipino rock band and was a publicist for Frank Zappa!

Tommy Kirk

Disney Fame: Kirk is most famous for his role as Travis Coates in Old Yeller, but he also starred in the popular Mickey Mouse club serial, The Hardy Boys: The Mystery of the Applegate Treasure.

Scandal: Kirk's teenage years were a source of deep unhappiness due to diminishing roles and the fact he was forced to conceal his homosexuality due to social pressures and fears about how it would affect his career. He told interviews that:

I consider my teenage years as being desperately unhappy. I knew I was gay, but I had no outlet for my feelings. It was very hard to meet people and, at that time, there was no place to go to socialize. It wasn't until the early '60s that I began to hear of places where gays congregated. The lifestyle was not recognized and I was very, very lonely... I had the definite feeling that it was going to wreck my Disney career and maybe my whole acting career. It was all going to come to an end

Kirk was eventually dropped by Disney after the studio discovered he was having a relationship with a boy who he met at a local swimming pool , and he didn't take this news well. Kirk explained:

I was drinking, taking pills and smoking grass. In fact, I was pretty wild. I came into a whole lot of money, but I threw a lot of parties and spent it all. I wound up completely broke. I had no self-discipline and I almost died of a drug overdose a couple of times. It's a miracle that I'm still around. All of that didn't help the situation

Thankfully, the actor turned his life around in the '70s and was eventually granted the honor of being named as Disney Legend in 2006.


Were you surprised that Disney kids who fall off the rails are not just a modern phenomenon?

Source: Reel Classic, Pop Culture Addict, Wikipedia and Fox News


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