New York

The lonely death of Bobby Driscoll, the voice of Disney’s Peter Pan

March 30, 1968
Manhattan, New York
Former child-star Bobby Driscoll dies at the age of 31 from advanced hardening of the arteries from prolonged drug abuse

Driscoll is probably best remembered for voicing the titular character in Disney’s Peter Pan though he also starred in Songs of the South, Disney’s Treasure Island (1950), and Rawhide. When acting jobs ran dry, Driscoll found himself pushed to the side. In his words, “I was carried on a silver platter—and then dumped into the garbage.”

Driscoll fell away from friends and family, and into a life of drugs and alcohol abuse which eventually killed him. He was found in an abandoned building by 2 children on March 31; he had passed away the day before on a cot near 2 empty beer bottles and religious pamphlets. As Driscoll’s body had no identification, photos were taken and shown around the neighborhood, though this turned up no leads. When his body went unclaimed, he was fingerprinted and buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave in New York City’s Potter’s Field on Hart Island.

It wasn’t until 19 months later, when his mother attempted to track him down for a reunion. His father, Cletus, was deathly ill and hoped to reconcile with his long lost son before he died, and Driscoll’s mother Isabelle contacted Disney executives to locate him. Disney sent Driscoll’s fingerprint card to the New York Police Department who matched Driscoll to the unclaimed body. Cletus died two weeks after learning of Bobby’s fate, and Isabelle engraved their son’s name on Cletus’ tombstone. Buried next to Cletus is an empty casket as it was impossible to determine which body was Bobby’s who remains buried on Hart Island.

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