Tommy Kelly, the child actor who brought Mark Twain’s iconic character to life in 1938’s ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,’ has died. Tommy, who worked with such Hollywood legends like Clark Gable and James Cagney, passed away due to heart failure on Jan. 25. He was 90-years old.
Tommy Kelly may have been just a freckle-faced boy from the Bronx before starring in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, but after his famous movie, he became part of the golden age of Hollywood. Sadly, Tommy has left us, as the 90-year old actor has passed away.
Tommy suffered from congestive heart failure on Jan. 25 in Greensboro, North Carolina, according to The Hollywood Reporter. His son announced the passing of his father’s death on Feb. 9, letting the world know that another classic actor had died.
When he was picked by producer David O. Selznick to play the main character in 1938’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Tommy was just a 12-year-old student at a Catholic school in The Bronx. But the role launched his career, which included roles in Peck’s Bad Boy With The Circus and a role in the cinematic classic, Gone With The Wind.
Tommy was mostly known as a child actor, appearing in films like Curtain Call, The Beginning or the End and The West Point Story. Tommy ultimately retired from Hollywood by the time he was 25, according to the Daily Mail. However, before his career was over, he had worked alongside such movie icons as Clark Gable, Mickey Rooney and James Cagney.
After Hollywood, Tommy enlisted in the U.S. Army and fought over in Europe during World War II. Tommy earned a Ph.D. from Michigan State, and worked as a high school teacher and a counselor in Culver City, California. Tommy also had a stint as a Peace Corps administrator and served as a superintendent of international schools in Liberia and Venezuela. If that wasn’t enough, Tommy also served as an international relations adviser for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, per The Wrap.
While it is sad that Tommy is gone, it is amazing to look back on the life this one man lived. He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Susie, plus six children, 12 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Our thoughts are with Tommy’s family and friends during their time of loss.