My Three Sons star Tina Cole shares a look inside her career, fun facts and what's new in interview with MeTV

Tina Cole was born into a famous family, but she paved her own way too, and became one of television's most familiar faces in the process.

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Most know actress Tina Cole for her role as the beautiful, sweet and bubbly Katie Miller Douglas from the famed Sixties sitcom My Three Sons

While it made Tina a star, My Three Sons was only one aspect of an impressive career in music, television and even in education. In a recent interview with MeTV, Cole expressed gratitude towards her fans, gave an inside look at the start of her career, along with what she's been working on recently. 

From early dreams of being a teacher to her unique big break, to a brand new book, Cole's life has been one of adventure, and she couldn't be more excited to share part of her journey with her devoted fans. 

Take a look at these 10 fun facts, stories and career highlights of My Three Sons star Tina Cole. 

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1. Her first dream was to be a teacher

Image: The Everett Collection

Before she became the famous actress she is today and was in the Sixties and Seventies, Tina Cole wanted to be in the classroom. "You know, my goal in life was to be a teacher," Cole told MeTV. "I always wanted to be an elementary school teacher. I wanted to teach third and fourth grades, because my teacher was such an inspiration to me. I was always good with children." As the daughter of musician Buddy Cole and singer Yvonne King, the entertainment industry eventually got a hold of Tina, and like her parents, she thrived in it. "The Hollywood life was part of my life." Keep reading to see how her teaching dreams eventually came true!

2. Her television career began on Hawaiian Eye at the age of 19

Image: The Everett Collection

With the help of her uncle Jim Conkling, a legendary recording industry executive that helped create Warner Bros. Records, Tina Cole studied with Warner Bros. drama coaches for four summers starting at the age of 14.  By the time she was 19 and in college, all of the studying paid off. "I was working one semester at my first job ever. I was making $49 a week and I was going to save up for a used Volkswagen," Cole said. "I got a call from one of the executives at Warner Bros. He said 'we'd like you to test for the female lead in Hawaiian Eye.'" She had a schedule conflict with one of her classes and initially asked to postpone a screen test. "They called my mother. She put me on a plane that night." Three weeks later, Cole played the female lead of the series, Sunny Day. She wasn't thrilled about the name, but executives landed on it because of Cole's sunny personality, one that reminded them of Doris Day. "I always wanted to be Doris Day," Cole added. 

3. She appeared on The King Family Show and was one of The Four King Cousins

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Tina Cole isn't only a famous name in the world of television, she's also known for her ability to sing and perform in musicals. She was part of The King Family Show, featuring Tina's mother, singer Yvonne King and their entire family. The performance started as a single church benefit, but turned into much more. King wrote and directed the performance while her daughter Tina choreographed it. More and more began requesting the family for performances, until Yvonne King made a call to New York. Cole said of her mother, "I remember her calling from our kitchen phone at six in the morning, in her night gown, peeling an orange saying 'Hi, I have a show that I think you might like.'" Not long after, Cole and 38 other family members were introduced by Bing Crosby on The Hollywood Palace. By 1965, the family had their own series dubbed The King Family Show. In 1966, five members of the King family, including Tina, appeared on The Kraft Summer Music Hall, which featured John Davidson, George Carlin and Richard Pryor, in some of their earliest performances. After that turned out to be a hit, Cole and three of her cousins formed the pop group The Four King Cousins. 

4. Katie Miller Douglas wasn't Cole's first role on My Three Sons

Image: The Everett Collection

When My Three Sons and Tina Cole are said in the same sentence, her character of Katie Miller Douglas comes to mind. However, her season eight entrance as Katie wasn't the first time she was on the series. She had played a couple of roles in a handful of episodes prior. Perhaps most notably, in the season five episode "The Coffee House Set," Cole plays a friend of Robbie Douglas, a guitar-playing young lady by the name of Sherry, who helps get Robbie a music gig. Cole also played Ina in the season four episode "House for Sale" and Joann in the season six episode "Robbie and the Little Stranger." 

5. Out of 2,000 applicants, she landed the role of Katie Miller Douglas

Image: The Everett Collection

While Cole was singing and performaing on The King Family Show and with The Four King Cousins, and about a year after her most recent episode of My Three Sons, she got a call from Ed Hartman, the show's producer. "He says, 'why haven't we seen you?,'" Cole said. He and the series were looking for an actress to play the wife of Robbie, and given her familiarity with the show already, Hartman wanted to talk with Cole about it. "They had seen, he said, over 2,000 girls and screen tested like 20. Usually, interviews are maybe five minutes at the most," Cole said. She sat down with director Fred de Cordova for over a half hour. "Then I wandered to another room and there was Fred MacMurray and his wife June [Haver]. I spent another 20 minutes or so with them. [I] left with my audition sides, because I thought I was going to do a screen test, and the casting director ran after me. She said, 'wait, your forgot to sign the contract.' She said, 'you got the part, we are shooting in a week and a half.' It was surreal." 

6. Don Grady initially didn't want Cole to play Katie Douglas

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Though she earned the part, co-star Don Grady didn't initally want Tina Cole for his television wife, and even tried to stop the executives from casting her. "Don Grady really was against me being cast as Katie," Cole said. "He thought his wife should be more like a surfer girl. Here I am this bouncy blonde, kind of bubbly, and he just didn't feel that that was who Robbie would have been attracted to." Cole revealed she and Grady had feelings in real life a few years later, and it was only then when she found out this little secret. "We actually fell in love for real, and he then admitted that he tried to stop me from being cast."

7. Her role of Katie Douglas felt totally natural

Image: The Everett Collection

While Cole and Grady had to develop chemistry once she landed the role of Katie Douglas, Cole had no issues with the actual character. She felt right at home from the beginning. "I think I really was Katie," Cole told MeTV with a laugh. "I didn't really have to do a whole lot." Cole says with her musical background, she knew how to find the character and make that character come to life. "I tell the story with the song. I think that's what I did with my acting and maybe because I had studied for so long. Katie was so natural to me." 

8. She spearheaded a Community School in Sherman Oaks to help keep children safe

Image: The Everett Collection

We told you earlier in this list Cole initially wanted to be a teacher. Her instincts took over when her son Volney was in the fifth grade. At the time they lived in Sherman Oaks, a neighborhood of Los Angeles. With the region being so spread out, bussing kids to and from school was an issue. "My little boy was going to be bussed an hour and a half from Sherman Oaks to Watts in east LA." Cole and many other parents in the community were worried about safety with that long of a commute. As a result, she and other parents formed the River Oaks School after purchasing old church grounds. The school was kindergarten through eighth grade. Cole led the charge for the music program while other parents took on art and other extracurricular activities. "We had 250 students and accredited teachers. It was a real group effort and it was just one of the most wonderful things I've ever done." 

9. She took over a grammar school music program in Sacramento

Image: The Everett Collection

15 years later, Cole had three more children who were now at grammar school in Sacramento. The music program at the school was facing a budget cut. Cole, with her love for music still burning, stepped in and took over the program. "I taught kindergarten through I think third grade. We did that for a couple of years... most of the kids were in apartments, broken homes and even homeless. We did a summer program for them and I taught music and drama for them." For Cole, this moment was a full-circle one, as she had always wanted to inspire children. "I became a real teacher." 

10. You can read her book, My Three Lives: A Memoir

In November of 2022, Cole released her book My Three Lives: A Memoir. With a play on the name of the series that made her a television star, My Three Lives recaps three phases of Cole's life: "A Daughter of Fame," "My Three Sons Fame," and "Beyond Fame." The "Three" in the book title is even the logo from the show. The book was a long time coming for Cole, and a project she certainly put a lot of thought into. "People have been asking me for years to write a book," Cole said. "I worked on it every day for about a year and a half. The response has been wonderful. I've always teased that I can't even write a grocery list, and here I've got a book," Cole laughed. My Three Lives: A Memoir is available now for purchase on Amazon. Fans can purchase an autographed version of the book through Cole's personal website, which can be found via her official Facebook page. The TV star says she uses her Facebook page to interact with fans on a daily basis. 

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42 Comments

SoCal72 1 month ago
Excellent article, on a talented and remarkable woman. My favorite, "My Three Sons," episodes were the ones she was in. I had no idea her initial goal was to be a teacher and how, later in life, she was able to accomplish just that. Looking forward to reading her book.
ClarkSavage 8 months ago
Believe it or not, I discovered Tina Cole last night - as “Sunny Day” on HAWAIIAN EYE!

I was struck by her youthful beauty & engaging personality (in a bit role) - but was knocked *out* by her singing!!
Much better than the actress she replaced 😄

When I looked her up on IMDb was surprised to note she was just 19 at the time.

She had it all, right out of the box.
SoCal72 ClarkSavage 1 month ago
"Much better than the actress she replaced." True, as much as I liked "Cricket," (Connie Stevens) I wished Tina had been in more episodes.
Sooner 8 months ago
She was a real cutie, and seemed genuinely sweet.
Bethois 8 months ago
"With the region being so spread out, bussing kids to and from school was an issue. "My little boy was going to be bussed an hour and a half from Sherman Oaks to Watts in east LA." Cole and many other parents in the community were worried about safety with that long of a commute."

It was the busing safety of a long commute that concerned them?
CarolKelley Bethois 8 months ago
I wondered that myself. Would the parents have been so concerned if the kids had been bussed to a white dominated suburb?
Runeshaper 8 months ago
Seems like a wonderful woman (-:
thegreatgavonne 8 months ago
She has such a wonderful, caring quality about her I have always been a big fan. She was labeled "America's Sweetheart" & to me she still is. Looking forward to reading the book.
same 8 months ago
Someone told she and Don Grady dated in real life and his mother is Mary Grady she used to be Butch Patrick's agent/manager.
raibreth 8 months ago
Such a nice article about Tina. It's refreshing to read something uplifting like this. Well done.
bsantaniello 8 months ago
As a child I always looked forward to the King family shows. Great musical entertainment. We watched it as a family. Then again we watched all our shows as a family. Good article.
DaynaFerro bsantaniello 8 months ago
Back then all shows that were on tv were family shows until later at night. I remember watching them also and I always loved their Christmas Shows.
tootsieg 8 months ago
Very good article. I thought Tina Cole was connected with The King Family but was not sure. Probably something I read a long time ago. Thanks MeTV for the fun facts.
Mblack 8 months ago
In other news, Gina Lolobrigida has died.
cperrynaples Mblack 8 months ago
Yes, and tecnically she deserves a MeTV obit because her last American performance was on The Love Boat!
Mblack cperrynaples 8 months ago
I see. The staff is taking Martin Luther King Day off today. So no new posts.

Coretta Scott King welcomed us to New York City on June 7th 1982.
Deleted 8 months ago
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cperrynaples 8 months ago
Yes, and they use those credits for Season 12, which means 2 things: Don Grady gets credit for a season he didn't do, and Ronnie Troup & Dawn Lyn don't get credits for a season they did do! Those Season 12 credits exist, CBS should find them!
CoreyC 8 months ago
They had to keep the illusion of My Three Sons. Don Grady left and Stanley Livingston was a semi regular at season 12.
8 months ago
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pgershon 7 months ago
I remember watching season 12 first run when I was a kid. Don Grady was still credited for some reason, even though he left the show. I asked my babysitter why he was still there at he time, so I believe the opening credits on MeTV may be correct - at least for Don Grady's inclusion. But it does not explain why Ronnie Troup & Dawn Lyn don't show up. It looks liek the end credits in season 12 only had the guest stars, unlike earlier years. Which makes me believe Ronnie Troup & Dawn Lyn must have been included at the start. Maybe as an also staring when the episode starts? Not sure. But I have scoured the internet and cant find any trace of them in season 12 credits available, start or finish.
Mblack 8 months ago
So no relation to Gary Cole, or Michael Cole.
cperrynaples Mblack 8 months ago
No, she's more of a King than a Cole! Only Nat the singer from Cat Ballou was both...LOL!
LoveMETV22 8 months ago
It was very nice that Tina Cole took the time to acknowledge and thank MeTV for their effort on her Facebook page:

😃
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 8 months ago
Nice Post!! Thank you for sharing Facebook which some of us don't have!

A beautiful lady as much on the outside and on the inside! An uplifting story!
Laffy 8 months ago
Astounding beauty, intelligent, musically gifted, the heart if a wife and mother.
A class act.
Starting an Independent School District or Home School is good.
Good instincts in regard to problems.
rb5391 8 months ago
wow, i have never even heard of MY THREE SONS until a year ago, i started watching and man Tina Cole is beautiful. Whoever casted her did right. she nailed her character and it shows...(Ronnie Troup was great too)..but man, Tina is exactly what you want in a mother and wife. Its also kind of sad to see what America used to be like with strong women and a strong family unit as compared too today. Tina was blonde, beautiful, perky, positive, and exactly what i was looking for, bud sadly never found...
harlow1313 rb5391 8 months ago
"...what America used to be like with strong women..." That is interesting. Of course, there have always been strong women Hopefully, it is a bit easier for strong women to flourish in modern times. I feel this particular character from My Three Sons is a thinly drawn stereotype.

I would be interested to know what some ff the women commenters think about these things.
retro6 harlow1313 8 months ago
I agree with you. String women exists in all kinds of forms and types. While I enjoy my three sons and love Tina Cole, there are many strong role models out there that don’t fit the Katie Douglas/Douglas family mold.
JeffPaul76 8 months ago
Hello. Is the photo on the book cover one of Tina now, or one from the '70s or '80s maybe? Or some other time? What does she look like now anyways?
cperrynaples JeffPaul76 8 months ago
I've seen recent pictures and she doesn't quite look like that! Even in those pictures, still good for an 80-something!
Andybandit 8 months ago
Interesting facts about this lady even though is don't about her on my MTS. I started watching it when Steve adopted Ernie.
JeffPaul76 Andybandit 8 months ago
Part of your first sentence doesn't make sense. What are or were you trying to say there?
JeffPaul76 Andybandit 8 months ago
"even though is don't about her." What does that mean?
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