Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Whatever happened to Tina Cole (Katie on My Three Sons)?

Tina on My Three Sons with triplets in 1968

Tina Cole comes from a talented musical background.  She was born Christina Yvonne Cole in Hollywood, California on August 4, 1943.  She is the daughter of jazz pianist Buddy Cole (1916-1964), an accomplished musician who backed up Rosemary Clooney and Bing Crosby.  Her mother was Yvonne "Vonnie" King of the King Sisters, a vocal group consisting of six Mormon sisters from Utah.  She has a younger sister, Cathy Cole Green, born on June 4, 1947.

Tina has been an entertainer since childhood.  At the age of 19, she signed an exclusive contract with Warner Brothers Studios.  During a contract dispute between Warner and Connie Stevens, Tina was chosen to replace Connie as the female lead in the TV detective series Hawaiian Eye, starring Troy Donahue and Robert Conrad.  She  portrayed Sunny Day in nine episodes of the series from 1962 to 1963.  

In the 1963 Warner Brothers college comedy Palm Springs Weekend, Tina had a minor role in the company of Donahue, Conrad, Connie Stevens and Stefanie Powers.  She then guest-starred alongside Lucille Ball, as a college girl in a 1963 episode of The Lucy Show entitled "Lucy's College Reunion" {Season 2, Episode 11, Air Date, December 16, 1963).

Tina Cole first appeared in an episode of My Three Sons in 1964, when the Douglas family still lived in Bryant Park.  She played Ina, a high school classmate of Robbie Douglas an episode entitled "House for Sale" (Season 4, Episode 22, Air Date: February 13, 1964).  Tina also appeared as Sherry in another 1964 episode "The Coffee House Set," as well as a 1965 episode called ""Lady in the Air" and a 1966 episode called "Robbie and the Little Stranger."  It was not until the beginning of the show's eighth season in 1967 that she began portraying Katie Miller, who married Robbie Douglas (Don Grady).  The couple had triplets - three sons, of course. 

Tina became the first female series regular on My Three Sons,  Her first appearance as Katie was in an 1967 episode entitled "Moving Day" (Season 8, Episode 1, Air Date: September 9, 1967).  In the episode, the Douglas family movies to California and Robbie meets Katie at his new college.

Tina remained with My Three Sons until its 12th and final season.  In total, she appeared in 136 episodes, including the ones before she assumed the role of Katie.  Below is a 1967 photo of the cast of My Three Sons: Back Row L-R, Don Grady, Tina Cole, Fred MacMurray, William Demerest, Stanley Livingston. Front: Tramp the dog and Barry Livingston.

After My Three Son went off the air in 1972, Tina made guest appearances in episodes of such series as The Rookies (1973), Adam-12 (1974)  She and her sister, Cathy played singers in the two-episode 1976 mini-series Eleanor and Franklin.  They also appeared as singers in the follow-up TV movie, Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years.

Tina then stepped away from acting for almost a decade.  She became director of the Sacramento Children's Theatre.  She also worked as an acting coach at the John Robert Powers drama schools in Elk Grove in Elk Grove and Roseville, California.  She returned to acting with appearances in the 2016 film The 6h Friend, the 2017 television movie Take it from the Top, and the 2018 horror film Reawakened.

Tina has been married and divorced twice.  She is the mother of four children, one from her first marriage and three from her second.  From 1965 until 1970, Tina was married to TV producer Volney Howard III.  They had a son, also named Volney Howard. 

Tina's second husband was Filmore Pajeau Crrank Jr., whom she wed in 1979.  They had three children, including a son, actor Filmore Pajeau Crrank III, (known as Paj Crank), born August 26,, 1981. and two daughters, Chelsea Crank and Samantha Crank.

In a January 2020 interview with Fox News, Tina Cole revealed her secret love affair with her My Three Sons co-star Don Grady," which began soon after her divorce from her first husband. She felt she was falling in love with Don, so she ended her marriage.

Don did not initially approve of the casting of Tina as his on-screen wife.  "He didn't think I was the right girl for him," she told Fox News.  According to Tina, Don envisioned someone else for the role, a Peggy Lipton surfer girl type, someone who was "skinny and blonde."  Tina claimed that she "had no idea that he really fought the casting."         

Tina and Don were awkward with each other when Tina first began playing the role of Katie.  They frustrated the director because they had difficulty kissing,  Their noses kept bumping each other and they were asked to go to back of the stage and practise kissing.  

Tina with Don Grady

Tina told Fox News a story about twin beds on the set.  She said, "I remember in one episode, Robbie and Katie   We walked into what is going to be our bedroom.  There were twin beds.  Now, this is 1967.  Don said, 'There's no way.  We can't do this.  We've gotta have a big bed.  There's no way we can have twin beds'.  So they had to scramble to find this big bed.  I think we were one of the first shows that had a couple on the same bed together on television.  (Editor's NoteThere were very few in the 1960s, but Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns did on their sitcom way back in their 1947).

Tina and Don sang together on telethons and they shared a passion for music,  "We went together on and off for about eight years,  He wanted to marry me, but I wasn't ready," Tins stated.  "I loved him madly, but I had a son and I just wasn't sure.  I wasn't quite ready."

After Tina rejected his marriage proposal, Don wed Julie Boonisar in 1976.  According to Tina, the next time they met, at a shoot for a Thanksgiving Reunion with the Partridge Family & My Three Sons,  Don told her that his marriage had been a big mistake.  He said would call her when he was no longer married.  Dona and Julie divorced in 1979 and he and Tina eventually got back together.  When Don decided to to New York and try his luck on Broadway, Tina refused to join him unless they married.  Don insisted  that they go only as friends.  In 1985, Don married Virginia Lewsader and the couple remained together until Don's death in 2012.    

More recent photo of Tina


* Tina Cole's mother, Yvonne, died on December 13, 2009 after suffering a fall at her home in Santa Barbara, California.  She was 89 at the time of her passing.

* Tina's first husband, Volney Howard III, passed away on July 14, 2016.  He was 74 at the time of his death.       

* Beverly Garland, Tina's My Three Sons TV mother-in-law became Tina Cole's real-life mother-in-law when Beverly's son, Filmore Crank, Jr. married Tina in 1979.  Beverly portrayed Barbra Harper, who married patriarch Steve Douglas (Fred MacMurray).

* Tina Cole, Don Grady and Uncle Charley (William Demerest) portrayed their My Three Sons roles in a 1970 episode of the John Forsythe series To Rome with Love.  They visit Rome in an episode entitled "Rome Is Where You Find It" (Season 2, Episode 6, Air Date: October 20, 1970).

* Tina Cole and Don Grady appeared in a 1971 TV movie entitled After the Honeymoon.  It was a a proposed spin-off of My Three Sons in which Robbie and Katie Douglas move to San Francisco with their triplets.  They soon become involved in the comic mishaps of their landlords and fellow tenants.

* Don Grady died of myeloma, cancer of the plasma cells on June 27, 2012.  He passed away at the age of 68 in Thousand Oaks, California.  

* Tina was a member of the Four King Cousins, a pop group consisting of the daughters of the King Sisters, including Tina's sister, Cathy, and cousins Candy and Carolyn.  In late 2013, Tina performed with her King Cousins and appeared at the Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood.  They made further appearances at the Catalina in April 2014 and August 2016.

* Tina has made guest appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, Johnny Caroson's Tonight Show, Hollywood Squares and Family Feud.  She serenaded the Osmond Brothers on their first television special and she toured with Bob Hope and Rowan & Martin.  She has joined the King Family in concert and on television, including the classic 1967 Christmas With The King Family special.

* Tina is the author of a 2022 memoir entitled My Three Lives: A Memoir.  It deals with three phases in her life.

SOURCES: Fox News; '"My Three Sons' Star Tina Cole ditched twin beds with on-screen husband Don Grady;" by Stephanie Nolasco, January 6, 20202; Do You Remember? (doyouremember.com); "Tina Cole from 'My Three Sons' is 79 And Almost Married Her Biggest Critic," by  Donna Daly, July 2023; Great Entertainment Television, "Tina Cole: 6  Fun Facts About the Christmas with the King Family Star," by getTV Staff; Biography Pedia."Where is Tina Cole today? Wiki Biography, Children, Husband,  July 28, 2023; Closer, "My Three Sons' Tina Cole Reveals Why She and Costar Don Grady Never Married in Real life," by Closer Staff, September 21, 2013; AmoMama (amomama.com), "Don Grady Wed Another Woman after Tina Cole Rejected His Proposal but Soon Regretted It," by Gaone Pule, October 13, 2021; AmoMama (amomama.com), "'My Three Sons' Tina Cole & Don Grady Were "Madly in Love' & Dated for 8 Years Yet She Refused to Marry Him," by Salwa Nadeem, May 13, 2023; Wikipedia; Internet Movie Database (IMDb)

- Joanne

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