Tommy Cole was born in December of 1941 in Burbank, California. His dad was an editor at the Los Angeles Herald Examiner newspaper, and his mom worked part-time as a welfare guardian for minor children at movie studios (something she got into after Tommy went into show business). Tommy has one older brother named John Cole.
Tommy showed an interest in performing at an early age, much to his family’s disapproval. They soon got on board with it, though, when it became clear that young Tommy was committed to this craft. Tommy began performing in earnest as a young teenager, playing the accordion in a western swing band with three other kids. Their band played in amateur contests and at small clubs, even managing to land a performance on a mid-1950s TV show called Where’s Raymond?, starring Ray Bolger. The band
auditioned together for The Mickey Mouse Club at the Disney Studio in the spring of 1955. Tommy was the only one from the band who was selected to be on the show.
When Tommy first joined the show, in its premiere season, he was a singer and a musician. Dancing was the area of performing where he was the weakest and was one of only two non-dancers to be chosen to stay on the show after the cut of the first season. Tommy was an excellent singer and was the show’s featured male singer for all three of the show’s original seasons. While he was initially placed on the second-string Blue Team when he joined the show, he was promoted to the first-string Red Team
by halfway through the first season and appeared in the show’s opening Roll Call scene thereafter...