Tommy Cole

Make-up Artist/ Performer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-and-a-half-hour Archive interview, Tommy Cole speaks about his early introduction to the entertainment industry as a child, singing and playing the accordion on television and radio shows. He speaks about his casting as one of the Mouseketeers (as one of the main singers) on the original Mickey Mouse Club in the 1950s. He describes the audition process, learning to dance for the show, bridging the gap as an adolescent when his voice changed (with his contract in jeopardy), describes a typical workday, relates a story about forgetting a song and creating one out of thin air (a hit in dailies, but unaired), and speaks about his co-stars on the series as well as how the show was ever under the watchful eye of Walt Disney. He speaks about his transition into acting following The Mickey Mouse Club in some series television, in bit parts, and performing as a singer on tour. He relates how he got started in his second career as a make-up artist, starting in the mid-60s, on several daytime programs. He looks back on such series as Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, while working as a staff make-up artist at NBC for seven years from the late 60s. He recalls his freelance work on the pilot of Charlie's Angels and The Captain and Tennille Show. He notes that he made his living from his beauty work with such personalities as Raquel Welch and Barbara Walters, but that his awards were usually given to his work in old age or other kinds of prosthetic work (Emmy-nominated for Masquerade Party, in which celebrities were disguised; and his Emmy win for the old-age make-up-heavy Backstairs at the White House). He acknowledges being given the moniker "the Sitcom King," since he worked prolifically on sitcoms, starting with Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.  He speaks in some detail on the popular 80s and 90s series Designing Women, Perfect Strangers, Wings, and Evening Shade.  For Designing Women, he describes the make-up he did for three-of-the-four leads: Delta Burke, Jean Smart, and Annie Potts. For Perfect Strangers, he speaks about taking over from make-up artist Bob Ryan. For Wings, he discusses his impressions of several actors in the ensemble.  Regarding Evening Shade, he describes working with Marilu Henner and Burt Reynolds (and Reynolds' relationship with the crew). He comments on his "third career" in union politics and as a governor of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Karen Herman conducted the interview on November 1, 2008 in Sherman Oaks, CA.

"Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Mr. Disney next to camera. I kept blowing the line because he was making me nervous. I'd see him there smiling, watching what I was doing. So I called the AD over after one of the takes that I'd blown and said, 'could you ask Mr. Disney if he could please move out of my eyeline?' I didn't want to be disrespectful, but could he move just a little? I saw the AD go over to Mr. Disney and whisper in his ear, and he looked at me, waved and left. I got through the intro. The next day in the trades: 'Mouseketeer Throws Walt Disney Off the Set.'"

Highlights
Make-up artist Tommy Cole on working on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
03:29
Make-up artist Tommy Cole on his Emmy-nominated work on Masquerade Party
03:04
Make-up artist Tommy Cole on his Emmy Award-winning work on Backstairs at the White House
05:32
Make-up artist Tommy Cole on working on the pilot of Charlie's Angels
02:12
"Mouseketeer" Tommy Cole on his interactions with Walt Disney
03:30
Full Interview

Chapter 1

Introduction
On his early years; on wanting to become an entertainer at an early age; on first seeing television; on being a singer; on his first TV appearances
On his audition and first year on The Mickey Mouse Club; on returning to the show; on co-starring on The Mickey Mouse Club; on Walt Disney

Chapter 2

On co-starring on The Mickey Mouse Club (cont.)
On the cancellation of The Mickey Mouse Club;  on working with Disney's later Mickey Mouse Club ventures
On difficulties finding work after The Mickey Mouse Club; on playing delinquents in bit parts; on transitioning to his career as a makeup artist; on how he approaches his craft; on some of the shows he's worked on 
On working on the Barbara Walters Specials

Chapter 3

On working as a make-up artist on staff at NBC
On his Emmy-nominated work on Masquerade Party; on working on The Captain and Tennille Show, the pilot of Charlie's Angels, and Once Upon a Brothers Grimm
On his Emmy Award-winning work on Backstairs at the White House
On working on various sitcoms including Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman; Roseanne; Evening Shade; King of Queens; and others; on becoming active in his union

Chapter 4

On his work supporting the Local 706 Makeup Artists and Hairstylist Guild; on his work with the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences; on his personal life; on his proudest achievement
Shows

Backstairs at the White House

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Make-up artist Tommy Cole on his Emmy Award-winning work on Backstairs at the White House
05:32

Barbara Walters Specials

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Make-up Artist Tommy Cole on working on the Barbara Walters Specials
07:38

Captain & Tennille

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Make-up artist Tommy Cole on working with Toni Tennille on The Captain and Tennille Show
01:12

Charlie's Angels

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Make-up artist Tommy Cole on working on the pilot of Charlie's Angels
02:12

Designing Women

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Make-up artist Tommy Cole on working with the cast of Designing Women
04:21
Make-up artist Tommy Cole on working on Wings and Designing Women
04:40

Evening Shade

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Make-up artist Tommy Cole on working with the Marilu Henner on Evening Shade
04:30

King of Queens, The

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Make-up artist Tommy Cole on working on a season of The King of Queens
02:16

Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

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Make-up artist Tommy Cole on working on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
03:29

Masquerade Party

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Make-up artist Tommy Cole on his Emmy-nominated work on Masquerade Party
03:04

Mickey Mouse Club, The

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Tommy Cole on co-starring on The Mickey Mouse Club (1955-1958)
53:01
Tommy Cole on co-starring on The Mickey Mouse Club (cont.)
14:29
Tommy Cole on the cancellation of The Mickey Mouse Club; on working with Disney's later Mickey Mouse Club ventures
12:13

Once Upon a Brothers Grimm

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Make-up artist Tommy Cole on his Emmy-nominated work for Once Upon a Brothers Grimm (1977)
01:28

Wings

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Make-up artist Tommy Cole on working on Wings and Designing Women
04:40
Professions

Make-Up Artist

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Tommy Cole on various aspects of his career
24:53

Stylists

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Tommy Cole on various aspects of his career
24:53
People

Delta Burke

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Make-up artist Tommy Cole on working with the cast of Designing Women
04:21

Walt Disney

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"Mouseketeer" Tommy Cole on his interactions with Walt Disney
03:30

Marilu Henner

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Make-up artist Tommy Cole on working with the Marilu Henner on Evening Shade
04:30

Annie Potts

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Make-up artist Tommy Cole on working with the cast of Designing Women
04:21

Jean Smart

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Make-up artist Tommy Cole on working with the cast of Designing Women
04:21

Toni Tennille

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Make-up artist Tommy Cole on working with Toni Tennille on The Captain and Tennille Show
01:12

Barbara Walters

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Make-up Artist Tommy Cole on working on the Barbara Walters Specials
07:38

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