By the time Kevin Corcoran was in his late teens, he was a veteran of the picture business — and he knew more than the guys he auditioned for.
Corcoran, remembered by most as the mischievous Moochie, had been in movies since he could walk, starring in Old Yeller, The Shaggy Dog, andPollyanna. But by the late 1960s, when he was barely 20-years-old, Kevin was done with acting.
The revelation that put Corcoran behind the scenes for the rest of his career came during an audition for a character no one seemed to have defined very well, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“Usually they would give you pages from the script, let you know what the character is like. But this director and producer said they wanted to hear about my version of the character. I said, ‘Well, what is this character about?’ And they fumbled around because they didn’t know. Then it hit me. You know what? I know more about making movies than the guy making this picture. I’m done acting.”
On Tuesday, Corcoran died after a five-year battle with colorectal cancer, his wife, Laura, confirmed to the Hollywood Reporter. He was 66.
After his time as a child star, Kevin went on to produce and direct for TV, spending his time behind the camera at Murder, She Wrote, Baywatch, The Shield, and Sons of Anarchy. Unlike most former child stars, his life was free of drama. He enjoyed a long marriage and stayed out of the spotlight.
“I enjoy entertaining people and doing good work,” Kevin said in a past interview. “I’m glad my life didn’t have to be a spectacle.”
Perhaps that’s because the Corcoran family was in the “picture business” like other families were in the “delicatessen business,” as Kevin put it, the New York Times added.
There were eighth kids in the family, Kevin the fifth. By the time he was born in 1949, the Corcoran kids of Santa Monica, California, had been in the business a while. Kevin’s father was a security guard at the MGM lot and often knew when children were needed for extra roles. Kevin was discovered on the lot and put in his first movie in 1954, The Glenn Miller Story.
Sad news all. Kevin Corcoran has passed away :( RIP Moochie pic.twitter.com/bMgWUAoaot— DisneyChris Dot Com (@DisneyChris73) October 7, 2015
Eventually, Kevin was cast in Adventures in Dairyland — a Mickey Mouse Club serial — where Moochie was born. The name stuck in several films — The Shaggy Dog, Moochie of Pop Warner Football, and Moochie of the Little League. Critics called Corcoran’s character the “quintessential bratty kid brother or mischievous moppet,” and it wasn’t too much of a stretch for the young actor, co-star David Stollery said Wednesday.
“He was just this little rambunctious bundle of energy. He was Moochie, a perfect fit for the character.”
Though Kevin wasn’t a big name among child stars, his most well-known character was beloved by fans, who related to the rambunctious child.
“To kids of my generation, Moochie was an irresistible figure, a kid we could all relate to,” film critic Leonard Maltin once said. “Because he was so genuine, not a goody-goody type of a model child. He had a touch of mischief and curiosity, and you couldn’t help but like him.”
Just learned Kevin Corcoran passed away. He was a prolific child actor and then a delightful person and producer, including on The Shield.— Shawn Ryan (@ShawnRyanTV) October 6, 2015
Outside of his Disney roles, Corcoran starred in Pollyanna with Hayley Mills and Jane Wyman, Swiss Family Robinson, Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks With a Circus. And, of course, Old Yeller, the weepy tale of a boy and his rabid dog.
When his time in front of the camera was over, he worked in various capacities on the other side of the lens, usually as assistant director. Corcoran earned his theater degree after his time as a child star and went on to be recognized as a Disney Legend by the studio in 2006.
Kevin leaves behind a wife, Laura Soltwedel, who he married in 1972, and three sisters.
[Photo Courtesy YouTube Screengrab]