Kevin Corcoran, a child actor for Walt Disney in the 1950s and ’60s who appeared in films like “Old Yeller” before moving behind the camera to work in production, died on Tuesday in Burbank, Calif. He was 66.
The cause was colorectal cancer, his niece Karnel Watkins said.
Known as Moochie (a nickname supposedly bestowed by Walt Disney himself) during much of his performing career, Mr. Corcoran began acting soon after he could walk, usually playing an irrepressible, high-pitched youngster in television shows like “The Ford Television Theater” in the early 1950s.
“He was the quintessential bratty kid brother or mischievous moppet,” the critic Donald Liebenson wrote about Mr. Corcoran in The Los Angeles Times in 2000.
He was first called Moochie in 1956 on “Adventures in Dairyland,” a serial shown on “The Mickey Mouse Club,” and went by that name in films like “The Shaggy Dog” (1959) and other Disney serials, including “Moochie of Pop Warner Football” and “Moochie of the Little League.”
Mr. Corcoran also played characters not named Moochie in three family-oriented films released in 1960: “Pollyanna,” with Hayley Mills and Jane Wyman; “Swiss Family Robinson,” with John Mills and Dorothy McGuire; and “Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks With a Circus,” with James Drury and a chimpanzee.
Three years earlier he had made audiences sob in “Old Yeller,” the coming-of-age story of two farm boys (Mr. Corcoran and his fellow Disney child star Tommy Kirk) whose beloved dog becomes rabid; Fess Parker played their father. Mr. Corcoran and Mr. Kirk reprised their roles in a sequel, “Savage Sam” (1963).
By the late 1960s Mr. Corcoran was ready to leave acting. He told The San Francisco Chronicle in 2012 that he knew it was time to quit when a director and producer were unable to delineate a character they wanted him to play.
“Then it hit me,” he said. “You know what? I know more about making movies than the guy making this picture. I’m done acting.”
Mr. Corcoran stayed in show business, but on the other side of the camera. He worked in different capacities, usually as an assistant director, on shows that ranged far from Disney fare, including “Baywatch” and “Sons of Anarchy.”
Kevin Anthony Corcoran was born in Santa Monica, Calif., on June 10, 1949, to Kathleen and William Henry Corcoran. He was discovered on the MGM lot, where his father worked as a security guard.
Most of his seven siblings acted — without undue pressure, he said.”My folks were very down to earth,” Mr. Corcoran said in 2000. “Some people’s families are in the delicatessen business. My family was in the picture business.”
Mr. Corcoran graduated from a Roman Catholic high school in Los Angeles before receiving a bachelor’s degree in theater from California State University, Northridge.
In 1972 he married Laura Soltwedel, with whom he lived in Los Angeles. She survives him, as do three sisters, Che Keene, Noreen Corcoran and Kerry del Villar, and a brother, Hugh.