Tim Hovey, a child actor whose gap-toothed grin and oversized ears brightened a series of films in the 1950s, has died in his home in Watsonville, it was learned this week.
Mike Scofield, a spokesman for the Santa Cruz County coroner's office, said Hovey had died Sept. 9 of a drug overdose.
The child star of "The Private War of Major Benson," "Toy Tiger," "Everything But the Truth" and "Money, Women and Guns" was 44.
Hovey had turned his back on acting when still in his teens and had lived in Northern California, working as a recording engineer and later in the computer field.
Small in stature, he was a studio asset in the 1950s because he was able to portray children even younger than himself.
He was discovered when his picture in a photographer's window caught the eye of an agent. Hovey said that his parents at first had not taken a subsequent film offer seriously.
But later he was sent to an audition for Milton Berle's TV show and then did a part on the "Lassie" series.
Young Hovey next was cast opposite Charlton Heston in "The Private War of Major Benson," a 1955 tale of a military academy run by an order of nuns.
After a few more films and TV shows ("Playhouse 90," "Lux Theatre," "General Electric Playhouse"), he retired from acting, even turning down a chance to do a Broadway play for Otto Preminger.
He is survived by his wife, Helen, his parents and a brother.