Tommy Kelly, ‘Adventures of Tom Sawyer’ Actor, Dies at 90

Actor played the title role in 1938 movie version of Mark Twain’s classic adventure story

Tommy Kelly
United Artists

Tommy Kelly, who played the title role in the 1938 movie version of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” has died. He was 90.

Kelly passed away from congestive heart failure on Jan. 25, 2016, in Greensboro, North Carolina, his son announced on Tuesday.

Along with starring in the film adaptation of Mark Twain’s classic adventure story, Kelly was predominantly known for his work as a child star and went on to appear in “Gone With the Wind,” “The Magnificent Yankee,” “Life Begins for Andy Hardy,” “Mug Town,” “He Walked By Night,” “Battleground” and “The West Point Story.”

He worked with such icons as Clark Gable, Mickey Rooney and James Cagney, before retiring from Hollywood at age 25.

Born in the Bronx, New York, Kelly was chosen by producer David O. Selznick from 25,000 youngsters to play Tom Sawyer.

Aside from his film career, Kelly was also an administrator for the Peace Corps in Liberia, obtained his Ph.D, and served as an international relations adviser for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Kelly is survived by his wife of 67 years, Susie, six children, 12 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.