Mickey Kuhn, the classic Hollywood child actor who played Beau Wilkes in Gone With the Wind, has died at age 90. Kuhn’s wife notified The Hollywood Reporter that he passed away in a hospice facility in Naples, Florida on Sunday. He had been relatively healthy until recently.
Kuhn also had notable roles as the ward of a famous movie cop in Dick Tracy (1945), and a younger version of Kirk Douglas in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946). He also had a role in John Wayne‘s essential western, Red River (1948). In 2014, Kuhn recounted to The Washington Post how he kept botching a scene with Clark Gable while filming Gone With the Wind. He was only six years old at the time. “My line was, ‘Hello, Uncle Rhett,’” he recalled. “I kept saying, ‘Hello, Uncle Clark.’” He needed a few attempts to perfect the line.
Kuhn never shared the screen with his movie mother de Havilland. He said he didn’t even meet her until she celebrated her 90th birthday in 2006 in California. After that initial meeting, he called her every year on her birthday, as stated in an interview with the Naples Daily News in 2017.
In 1939, Kuhn had roles in six films, such as King of the Underworld with Humphrey Bogart and Juarez with Bette Davis and Paul Muni. That year he also played a Mexican crown prince in When Tomorrow Comes starring Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer–a role that netted him $100 a week.
Mickey Kuhn made his screen debut at age 2
In addition to appearing in two James Stewart films, Magic Town (1947) and Broken Arrow (1950), he also had a role in many other big-screen productions. He also appeared in I Want a Divorce (1940), One Foot in Heaven (1941), A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945), The Searching Wind (1946), High Conquest (1947), and Scene of the Crime (1949).
Mickey Kuhn was born on Sept. 21, 1932, in Waukegan, Illinois. His father worked as a meat cutter for Safeway which led the family to move to Los Angeles when he was two years old. It was here that he landed his first acting role playing an adopted baby in Change of Heart (1934), starring Janet Gaynor.
In a 2008 interview for the website Films of the Golden Age, he elaborated on his big break. “My mother and I were in Sears Roebuck on Santa Monica and Western when a lady stopped my mother and said that Fox Studio was looking for twin babies for a movie they were shooting,” Kuhn recalled. “She had a baby girl that looked a lot like me and thought we could be cast. Well, we went over there, and I, but not the lady’s baby, was cast.”
In 1951, Kuhn joined the U.S. Navy and worked as an aircraft electrician for four years. After his time in the service, he acted in The Last Frontier (1955), Away All Boats (1956), and on three episodes of CBS’s Alfred Hitchcock Presents before quitting acting altogether. From there, he moved into airport management for American Airlines, working at terminals in Washington and Boston until 1995 when he retired.