Date of Birth : Oct 17th 1921
Following military duty, Tom went to New York and studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Art, training with acting guru Sanford Meisner, among others. Making his Broadway debut in 1947 in José Ferrer’s production of “Cyrano de Bergerac”, Tom had the makings of a serious dramatic actor, also appearing in such classic plays as “The Barretts of Wimpole Street” and “King Lear”. Although he also appeared seriously in TV drama in the early stages, comedy would become his forte. Hosting the amusing daily TV show “Entertainment” led to his biggest break on Steve Allen’s TV variety series “The Steve Allen Show” (1956). He, Louis Nye, Don Knotts and other members of Allen’s stock company became famous for their hilarious characters in Allen’s famed sketch sequences. Tom himself would be best remembered as the “Man on the Street” interviewee who could never remember his own name. Winning an Emmy during those four seasons with the Allen show (1956-1960), Tom went on to host another program — this time a game show — entitled “Split Personality” (1959).
From this, he developed an affinity for parlor games and appeared as a panelist on other quiz shows as well, notably “To Tell the Truth” (1956). Given a chance to star in his own comedy films by the early 1960s, Tom went completely unnoticed in such blah vehicles as Zotz! (1962) and The Old Dark House (1963), which failed to capitalize on his delightfully bungling, eccentric humor, although he did turn in a very funny supporting perf as a perpetually soused playboy in the Dick Van Dyke comedy Cold Turkey (1971).
After his movie career fell through, TV again became the object of his affection, usually in service to other stars. Alongside such top comedians as Bob Newhart (“Newhart” (1982)) and Robin Williams (“Mork & Mindy” (1978)), Tom’s absent-minded “second banana” foils found their engaging niche. He also continued with light comedy theater vehicles such as “Forty Carats”, “Come Blow Your Horn”, “Plaza Suite” and “Mary, Mary” and even managed a few musicals (“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” and “Fiddler on the Roof”). Tom’s first wife was film actress Jean Sullivan. Their daughter, Francesca Poston, also became an actress. He had two other children by second wife Kay, daughter Hudson and son Jason. They divorced in 1975 but remarried in 1980 and remained together until her death in 1998 from ALS. Kay and Tom appeared on many telethons to talk about the crippling disease.