Child actors are like little stars, they dazzle our screens and take our breath away with their undisputable twinkling talents. From Philip McKeon to Culkin Macaulay, Kirsten Dunst, Leonardo DiCaprio, Corey Feldman, and Nick Jonas, the entertainment industry has never lacked talented kids who are solid entertainers. But then, only a fraction of the slew progress into a future where they continue in the art by which we came to know them. While a great number of them abandon the profession as they could no longer maintain their relevance thereof, others like Philp crawl deep into their shells, relentlessly avoiding and evading the limelight.
McKeon will always be remembered for his role in the 1970 CBS sitcom, Alice. He portrayed Tommy Hyatt, a blonde, blue-eyed teen. After the show ended in 1985, he continued to make periodic acting appearances such as in the episodes of The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, and Amazing Stories. Apart from his work as an actor, he is also known as a director and producer. For many years before it emerged that the child actor passed away in December 2019, much wasn’t heard from him. Philp is no more but his existence; from his sexuality to his love life and the circumstances surrounding his death remains a puzzle people want to solve.
Philip McKeon Never Publicly Disclosed His Sexuality
Over time, certain factors have made people question the sexuality of an actor. Top on the list is the portrayal of a character whose sexuality is not straight. Hugh Grant, Hilary Swank, Charlize Theron, Felicity Huffman, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, and a host of others have had their sexuality questioned because of the roles they have played in their careers. This was not the case for Philip McKeon.
When an actor has qualities, appearance, or mannerisms that are traditionally associated with women, it can also inspire people to make speculations about his sexual orientation. Again, this was not the case for the late actor. As far as we can tell, the only reason people had to spread rumors about Philip McKeon’s sexual preference was because of the mystery surrounding his love life. The actor was never known to be in any relationship. He was known to be single all through his lifetime; there was never a time it was suspected that he was dating someone, neither was he ever so close to someone to such extent that would warrant a relationship rumor. Because of this, people began speculating that he might be gay and keeping it a secret to avoid the unwanted publicity that might follow his coming out of the closet.
The Alice actor did not find any reason to address the speculations, he was not someone that would indulge the public thirst for private information about his life; so he completely ignored the rumors, allowing people to conclude whatever they wanted about his sexuality. This only gave the speculations more wings to fly, to the point that people began concluding in some quarters that he was really gay. Whether he was gay or had a woman in his life, we may never know. It remains a mystery that is yet to be unraveled. Thus, it would be mischievous, irresponsible, and quite irritable for anyone to affirm that the actor was gay or straight. The fact of the matter is that his sexual orientation is unknown and Philip wanted it that way.
Why Did The Actor Never Marry?
McKeon was never married, neither was he linked to any woman or romantic partner. Being a very private person, he relentlessly concealed his private life from the public. He was undoubtedly a handsome bloke whom a lot of women and men would be willing to have as a romantic partner if he was interested, so the inability to find a partner should not be regarded as the reason he was single throughout his adult life; unless he was bent on finding the perfect and most suitable partner.
It has been suggested on several platforms that his sexuality had something to do with the fact that he was never married and failed to make any move towards starting a family of his own. This sentiment is based on the assumption that he was gay, and did not want to reveal that with the public; as such he remained single and denied himself the chance to get married and have a family. To the best of our knowledge, this premise upon which this popular opinion is built is baseless. First, no one can authoritatively confirm that the actor was gay. It could be that he was aromantic and asexual. Yes, some people can’t get romantically attached to others and don’t experience any form of sexual attraction.
If none of those was the case, there are other reasons why people choose to not get married. While marriage is often tied to monogamy, more and more people have embraced nonmonogamous relationships like polyamory and open relationships. Some people are very career-oriented and see marriage as a distraction while others believe it is nothing but a patriarchal institution. It is possible that any of this was the reason why Philip McKeon never walked down the aisle, only that we are not certain.
The actor never gave the public and the media the chance to pry into his private life. As such, people did not even get the chance to ask him questions about his marital status or his thoughts about marriage. In all, the reason he had no wife and family is not known and has been left to speculations.
Philip McKeon’s Portrayal of Tommy Hyatt In “Alice” Earned Him The Status of a Teen Idol
Given how Philip walked away from the movie industry, one might be forced to conclude it was something he never wanted but was forced into it. This was not the case, in fact, he had quite a hard time becoming a part of the industry; which made his decision to let it go difficult to comprehend. After several spells with seemingly minor roles, his breakthrough role came in 1976 when he was discovered by Linda Lavin who played the titular character in the CBS sitcom. She first saw him performing in a Broadway play and deemed him just right for the role of Tommy going by his brightness and a talent that was too polished for his age.
As such, she recommended him for the part. After attending the auditions in California, he got the role and the rest became history as he went ahead to appear in all the nine seasons of the sitcom. The series revolved around Alice Hyatt (Linda Lavin) a recently widowed mother who relocates with her teenaged son (Philip) from New Jersey to Phoenix. In Phoenix, she works as a waitress to make ends meet while trying to launch a singing career. The sitcom which also starred Vic Tayback, Beth Howland, Diane Ladd, Celia Weston, Marvin Kaplan, Martha Raye, and Polly Holliday was based on Martin Scorsese’s 1974 feature film titled Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.
The television series which aired from 1976 to 1985 wasted no time in becoming a hit and fan-favorite following its first two seasons. It ranked among primetime’s top 10 series in four of the next five seasons, only falling to No. 13 in 1978-79 but climbed to No. 4 the following year. Besides its rankings, it also won many awards including Golden Globes and Emmys. In all, it remained incredibly popular throughout its entire nine-year run despite its several cast changes. Philip practically grew up on the show and it would ultimately become the work he is most known for. His fine portrayal of his character earned him a lot of admiration that several magazines began calling him a teen idol.
His Career Didn’t Earn Him Any Significant Award But He Was Also a Producer
By the end of the show in 1985, Philip McKeon was an adult with a height of 6 feet 3 inches and was earning way over six-digits in salary. As he puts it, the experiences were his and no one else can lay a claim to them. While on the set of the show, he also took up golf as a youth and became an avid player. The actor was faced with the nuances associated with stardom but he was able to establish a remarkable relationship with his co-stars, especially with Vic Tayback. The older actor was more like his dad and would take him along with his own son who was a year older than Philip to Dodgers games and horseback riding. When Vic died in 1990, McKeon took it particularly hard as it was the loss of someone very close to him.
Following the end of the series, Philip McKeon continued to appear occasionally in other works such as 976-EVIL 2: The Astral Factor (1992) Sandman (1993), and Ghoulies IV (1994). His other on-screen credits include Return to Horror High (1987), Red Surf (1989), CHiPs (1979), Favorite Son (1988). Other than acting, he is also credited as a producer cum director and has recorded a few films under his wings. He has also been given credits for behind the scene works in movies like Teresa’s Tattoo (1994) – which starred his sister Nancy McKeon -, Murder In The First (1995), and The Young Unknowns (2000).
Although the Alice actor did not get to win any significant award in his career, the roles he pulled off and his exploits as a producer and director are quite an accomplishment. His role in Alice earned him two nominations as listed below.
- Young Artist Award for Best Young Actor in a Television Series – 1981
- Young Artist Award for Best Young Actor in a Television Series – 1982
The Late Actor Began His Career as a Model
The Alice actor was named Philip Anthony McKeon after he was born on the 11th day of November 1964 in Westbury, New York, to Barbara and Donald McKeon who is a travel agent. His star sign was Scorpio and he was not the only child of his parents. He was an older brother to a sister named Nancy McKeon who is an accomplished actress and producer known for her role in the NBC sitcom, The Facts of Life.
Philip began acting and modeling in commercials when he was just four years old. His parents took him along with his sister to a nearby modeling audition from where he began appearing in magazines, newspapers, and television commercials as a child model.
During the early days of his auditions, he did not get so lucky as his sister who fell in love with posing for the camera and was picked immediately. For Philip, he had to attend several auditions to get picked. However, once he got picked, his sail took off, and over the next several years, he got numerous modeling works that were accompanied by minor acting roles for both the stage and the screens.
How Did Philip McKeon Die?
From what we know, the last time Philip McKeon had anything to do with the movie industry was in 2010 when he appeared in a TV series documentary titled Biography. After Alice wrapped up, the late actor made periodic acting appearances and eventually decided to abandon the profession altogether for a career in radio.
Reports have it that he worked in the news department of KFWB News 98, a Los Angeles radio station for about 10 years. When he left the station, he moved to Wimberly, Texas, and began hosting his own radio show. When it emerged that he passed on the 10th of December 2019, it was said that he battled a long illness.
Like everything about the actor, the illness he battled that eventually claimed his life was never disclosed to the public. Confirming his death, a family spokesman related that his family was devastated by his passing but refused to divulge the illness involved. Unfortunately, people began to suggest online that he died of AIDS. From what we gathered, this was based on the assumption that he was gay and the fact that HIV/AIDS is prevalent among gay and bisexual men. There has been no piece of evidence, whatsoever, to validate this claim.
Philip McKeon died at the age of 55 and the circumstances surrounding his death are not known to the public.