Vale: Lee Aaker
Former child star, best known for The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, has died.
Former child star Lee Aaker, best known for The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, has died aged 77.
He died earlier this month in Arizona following a stroke.
Aaker was first found by director Fred Zinnemann and cast for a short film documentary on scoliosis.
He starred as Corporal Rusty, on The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin from 1954 to 1959, as a boy taken in by a U.S. Cavalry outpost after he is orphaned by an Apache raid. Alongside his German Shepherd, Rin Tin Tin, Rusty would accompany the cavalry on their adventures.
After the show’s end, he got a handful of cameo roles on The Donna Reed Show and The Lucy Show while film credits included Bye Bye Birdie, High Noon, The Greatest Show On Earth.
He enlisted in the Air Force shortly after leaving Hollywood and later became a carpenter.
Aaker had battled drug and alcohol abuse during this life and was alone with one “surviving relative that could not help him,” said friend and former Donna Reed Show star Paul Petersen , adding that Aaker’s death certificate lists him as an “indigent decedent.”
For Petersen, it marked another sad end to the life of a Hollywood child actor. “You are around just to please everyone,” he said, “and when there’s nothing left, they are done with you.”