Tina Cole--10 Fun Facts about the CHRISTMAS WITH THE KING FAMILY Star

Tina Cole in CHRISTMAS WITH THE KING FAMILY on getTV

This month getTV celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Christmas With The King Family special! We shared some interesting facts about the family itself on the getTV blog, and now we share more about one of the King Cousins - Tina Cole.

Acting since the early 1960s, Tina’s career includes TV roles on My Three Sons and Adam-12. She also made guest appearances on everything from The Ed Sullivan Show and Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show to The Hollywood Squares and Family Feud. She even serenaded the Osmond Brothers on their very first TV special. She’s performed on tour with Bob Hope and Rowan & Martin, and sang and danced her way to stardom as a member of the singing King Family in concert and on TV, including their holiday classic Christmas With The King Family.

Here are are ten fun facts about Tina Cole’s life and career:

1. Tina starred with 36 members of her real-life musical family on TV and in concert.

Before the Osmond family dominated TV screens in the 1970s, The King Family was a bona fide TV sensation and Tina became one its most popular performers. Tina’s mother Yvonne King was a member of the famous Grammy-nominated vocal quartet The King Sisters (who introduced hit songs including “In the Mood” and “I’ll Get By.”) In 1965 The King Sisters brought all of their family together to star in their own musical variety series The King Family Show for two seasons on ABC. They returned to ABC for a second series in 1969. Audiences fell in love with the singing, dancing real-life family and watched their popular holiday TV specials like Christmas With The King Family (1967) and Mother’s Day with the King Family (1968), which were in reruns for decades. The singing Kings were even parodied in Mad magazine and on The Carol Burnett Show. They were also popular variety show guest stars and on one occasion shared the bill with The Rolling Stones who were making their U.S. TV debut on The Hollywood Palace in 1964.

2. Tina was the first female series regular on the second longest running live-action sitcom in TV history.

In 1967, Tina joined the CBS series My Three Sons, starring Fred MacMurray, as its first female series regular. She portrayed ‘Katie,’ the love interest and eventual wife of ‘Robbie’ (played by Don Grady). The sparkling TV couple charmed audiences who followed their courtship, marriage and - in a TV first - the birth of their triplets. Tina remained with the series for 5 seasons until it ended in 1972, distinguishing it as the second longest running live-action sitcom in television history (1960-1972). In the years prior to portraying ‘Katie,’ Tina had already appeared in several episodes of the series playing different characters.

3. Tina's TV mother-in-law became her real-life mother-in-law.

Tina’s My Three Sons TV mother-in-law, legendary actress Beverly Garland (who joined the series as ‘Barbara Harper’ in 1969), became her real-life mother-in-law when Tina married Beverly’s son Fillmore Crank III in 1979. Fillmore and Tina have 3 children together.

4. Before My Three Sons, Tina was a co-star on another classic TV favorite.                                                            

As a budding young actress in 1963, Tina worked alongside TV great Lucille Ball in an episode of her Emmy-winning series The Lucy Show. That same year Connie Stevens temporarily left her popular detective drama Hawaiian Eye during its fourth and final season. The producers then specifically created a part for Tina and she joined the series as the aptly named ‘Sunny Day,’ a singer at the Shell Bar in the show's beautiful Hawaiian Village Hotel location. Tina and co-stars Troy Donahue and Robert Conrad even travelled to Hawaii to shoot her first appearances on location. Under contract to Warner Brothers, Tina also appeared alongside Donahue, Conrad, Connie Stevens and future TV star Stefanie Powers in the popular big-screen college comedy feature film Palm Springs Weekend.

5. Tina, her sister, and cousins co-starred with Richard Pryor and George Carlin.

In 1966, fresh off the second season of The King Family Show, NBC was looking for new young talent to star on a summer replacement to legendary singer Perry Como’s popular TV show. The producers approached the The King Family and booked Tina, her sister Cathy, their cousin Candy, and her sister Jamie along with their cousin Carolyn as a singing quintet billed as The Five King Cousins. When the 12-week series The Kraft Summer Music Hall premiered on June 13, 1966, the cast was rounded out by young comedians George Carlin and Richard Pryor. During the series run, Tina and her cousins performed alongside musical stars including Nancy Sinatra and The Everly Brothers. The Five King Cousins became four after Jamie departed the group to pursue her college education. In early 1967, The Four King Cousins, with John Davidson and George Carlin, launched their first concert tour.

6. Tina's father was a legendary musician.

When you hear the iconic Hammond organ riffs on the classic Henry Mancini theme for TV’s Mr. Lucky, you’re listening to Tina’s father - talented jazz pianist and orchestra leader Buddy Cole. Throughout the 40s and 50s, he was one of Hollywood’s most sought after musicians. Along with accompanying Tina’s mother’s group The King Sisters on several recordings, Cole had musical collaborations with legendary performers including Doris Day and Hoagy Carmichael. He also served as musical director for Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney on radio and recordings. Buddy Cole can also be seen accompanying Judy Garland in the film classic A Star is Born. He had just completed a marathon recording session of organ tracks for another blockbuster movie musical The Sound of Music when he suffered a heart attack and passed away in his sleep at the young age of 47 on November 5, 1964.

7. Tina recorded at Capitol Records in the 1960s and still performs today.

In 1968 - when the famous Capitol Records tower in Hollywood was in the midst of a creative zenith which included The Beach Boys, The Beatles, and Glen Campbell - Tina’s vocal group recorded an influential album of “sunshine pop” classics including “God Only Knows,” “California Nights,” and “Walk on By” for the label at the iconic studios on Vine Street. The Four King Cousins were popular TV and concert performers throughout the 1960s and 70s. At the height of their popularity, they appeared alongside entertainers including Don Rickles, Ray Charles, Bobby Darin, and Ella Fitzgerald; were regulars on The Jonathan Winters Show; and headlined in Las Vegas with Wayne Newton. The quartet, who perform in the lush four-part harmony tradition established by their mothers, reunited in 2013 and have since appeared in concert and on television.

8. Tina's uncle helped create The Grammy Awards.

Tina’s uncle Jim Conkling, father of King Cousin Candy, was the first A&R Vice President at Capitol Records in 1946. He was also President of Columbia Records in 1951 (where he helped establish the 12” LP as the industry standard and created the Columbia Record Club) and was the first President of Warner Brothers Records in 1958. Then in 1957 he joined Paul Weston and other music industry leaders to form the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS) and was appointed its first National Chairman. Under his leadership, Conkling and NARAS then created The Grammy Awards, which was originally called the Gramophone Award. The first Grammy Awards ceremony was held on May 4, 1959.

9. Tina has been director of Sacramento Children’s Theatre for 20 years.

Since 1997, Tina has taken great pride in her work as Director of Sacramento Children’s Theater. Spanning more than 75 years, it is the longest-running community theater program in Northern California. The program is free to local students in Pre-Kindergarten through third grade, and has entertained and taught countless children with lively and educational original musical theater productions. For many children, this is the first and sometimes only live theater that they get to experience.

10. She dubbed singing vocals for Raquel Welch.

In 1969, after taping an episode of The Barbara McNair Show, The Four King Cousins were approached by the show’s director David Winters with an unusual proposition. He was currently producing and directing a CBS TV Special starring Raquel Welch that was almost complete. However, in post-production Winters discovered technical problems with Raquel’s pre-recorded vocal tracks and needed a fast remedy. He asked Tina and the Cousins if they would re-record the vocals. So in an overnight session they re-dubbed vocals for nine of the twelve songs featured in the special, which meant having to match Raquel’s mouth movements since all of her scenes were already filmed. Raquel! aired on April 26, 1970 with Tina’s lead vocals backed by The Four King Cousins, and it was one of the highest rated specials of the year. Tina is uncredited on the special, and it is believed that the producers never told Raquel about the re-dubbing session

Watch Christmas With The King Family on Wednesday, November 29 at 10 pm ET/7 pm PT.

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