Tina Cole From ‘My Three Sons’ Is 79 And Almost Married Her Biggest Critic


Those looking for an engaging sitcom to watch have plenty of options, but few can claim to be as classic and definitive of its time as My Three Sons. Its cast of characters were strong throughout, even beyond its titular three progeny. No one could forget Robbie’s wife and Steve’s daughter-in-law Katie, played expertly by Tina Cole.

Cole was born as Christina Yvonne Cole right in Hollywood, California on August 4, 1943. It wasn’t just geography that put her close to the limelight from the start; she is the daughter of Yvonne King of The King Family Singers vocal group. On top of that, her father was Buddy Cole, a musician of multiple talents who played behind Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney.


Did Don Grady and Tina Cole date in real life?

Tina Cole, portraits on the beach, Feb 1962. photo: Win Muldrow/TV Guide/Courtesy Everett Collection

By the time she was just around 20, Cole landed a recurring role in Hawaiian Eye, appearing in eight episodes as the character Sunny Day. In a stark contrast to her future prominent roles, she also had an uncredited role in Palm Springs Weekend (1963). Then, of course, came My Three Sons, but a sharp eye will spot Cole before the character of Katie even existed. She can be seen in the episodes “House For Sale,” “The Coffee House Set,” and “Robbie and the Little Stranger.”

Life imitated art / Tony Esparza/TV Guide/courtesy Everett Collection

RELATED: ‘My Three Sons’ Cast Then and Now 2023

Katie and Robbie seemed a match made in a very confused heaven. That’s because of the double-edged chemistry between Cole and Robbie’s actor Don Grady. At one point, Grady actually toyed with the idea of leaving the show, saying he didn’t believe Cole was his type at all.

“Don Grady really was against me being cast as Katie,” Cole recalled. “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.”

Except, in the end, the two actually ended up falling in love multiple times.

She kept close to her roots even when she stepped away from it all

The Four King Cousins, from left: Tina Cole, Candy Wilson, Carolyn Brennan, Cathy Green, 1974 / Everett Collection

The two were instructed to practice kissing each other, being told, “You guys need to look like you like each other, so go back into the corner of the sound stage and practice kissing.” Looking back, Cole called their scene “turned out very well” and two years later, the two “fell in love for real.” By that point, she was actually with TV producer Volney Howard III but the relationship was on its final leg, and Cole would frequently go over to Grady’s house.

Cole and Howard split, but Cole was reckoning with “the idea that marriage is supposed to be forever,” and the two saw each other again and again for the sake of their son. So, when Grady proposed, she turned him down, despite being very much in love with him.

“I loved him with all my heart,” she admitted. “Isn’t that sad?”

Cole stuck to her roots even after leaving television / Byron Purvis/AdMedia

Just as this relationship came to a sort-of close that endured beyond its time, My Three Sons ended yet lives on through its beloved legacy. Cole stuck to television work, adding Adam-12, To Rome with Love, The Rookies to her resume. Through her mother’s involvement with King Family Singers, she also became a member of the subgroup, Four King Cousins. Ultimately, when Cole stepped away from television, she stayed away, but she used her experience to train others by serving as director of Sacramento Children’s Theatre.

Today, Cole is 79, and has also said several heartwrenching goodbyes to her TV family when Beverly Garland died; this saw Cole cross paths with Grady again. “We gave each other a big hug,” she revealed. ” The two then wrote back and forth to each other, with Grady at one point saying, “Anything I have to say would not do either of us any good.” Perhaps it was the same three words Cole would readily say to him even after all those years.

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