Born: March 3, 1937
Died: March 30, 1968
We ain’t kidding when we say the death of Bobby Driscoll (1937-1968) is one sad story. In 1950, the 12 year old received a special Academy Award for “Outstanding Juvenile Performance” for his role in The Window, about a boy who witnesses a murder. Then puberty began, his voice deepened and his skin broke out. The cute little boy was suddenly a Hollywood has-been.
By his late teens, Driscoll was hooked on speed and heroin and arrested repeatedly for drug possession and robbery. After serving a term in California’s Chino State Penitentiary, he disappeared into Manhattan’s underground. On March 30, three weeks after his 31st birthday, two boys playing in a deserted East Village trash and rat-infested tenement found a body, surrounded by religious pamphlets and empty beer bottles. The medical examination determined that the victim had died from heart failure caused by an advanced hardening of the arteries from longtime drugs abuse.
The 31-year-old body had no ID, and no one recognized police photos of the corpse. Driscoll’s body went unclaimed and was buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave in New York City’s Potter’s Field. Then, late in 1969, some 19 months after his death, Driscoll’s mother asked the FBI and Disney Studios (Driscoll, the first person ever signed to a Disney contract, appeared in their 1946 film Song of the South) for help finding the son she assumed was alive. A fingerprint match revealed his tragic fate.
Driscoll’s body remains in his unmarked pauper’s grave, although his name is engraved on his father’s gravestone at Eternal Hills Memorial Park in Oceanside, California.
Morbid Curiosity, By Alan W. Petrucelli