July 5, 1930:  Birth of actor Tommy Cook

On this day in Duluth in 1930, Thomas Mosely Cook was born to Emanuel S. and Fern J. Cook. The family moved to Los Angeles when Tommy was just six years old in the hope that the weather would improve his father’s health. The elder Cook suffered from Bright’s Disease, a kidney ailment often treated by spending time in a warm climate. With his mother’s encouragement, Tommy joined the Pasadena Playhouse, which got Tommy noticed—and into the movies. Thanks in part to his dark complexion, Tommy landed the role of Little Beaver in the 1940 twelve-part series The Adventures of Red Ryder. He reprised the character on radio from 1942 to 1945, sharing the role with Robert Blake, who also starred in the “Our Gang” comedies and would grow up to play TV’s Barretta. Cook went on to act in over 100 movies, including 1946’s Tarzan and the Leopard Woman with Johnny Weissmuller. Despite acting in movies and on television programs until 1983, Cook never made acting a successful career as an adult. The reason was never clear to Cook: “Why did I not make the transition from child actor to adult actor? I still haven’t figured that out! I can give excuses that I was too short and too tough-looking and that the parts wouldn’t open up…but that’s B.S. I just, for some reason, didn’t.” Read more about Tommy Cook here.

Tommy Cook (right) and Arch Obler on the set of the “Lights Out” radio show, 1940. (Image: Public Domain)