When I first thought about featuring actor/singer Tommy Sands on the ol’ GMC, I almost moved on to another subject because I was sure I had already covered the former teen idol. But apparently not, according to the handy dandy ‘search’ feature (which is much more reliable than my memory), so here we go.
One of several stars from the era who are still out there entertaining their fans, Chicago-born Tommy Adrian Sands grew up programmed for show business. Both parents were professionals — his dad a pianist and his mother a singer — and by the time he was in high school in the early 1950s he had already learned to play guitar and sing, and had caught the eye of Colonel Tom Parker (in his pre-Elvis days). After graduation he relocated to Los Angeles and found work on local TV while also pursuing a recording career. Before long, he’d gained enough experience and exposure to get some club work and also snag regular spots on Tennessee Ernie Ford’s national TV show.
In 1957 lightning struck when he was given the starring role in The Singin’ Idol, a TV drama that not only allowed him to sing and play, but also act a little — something he’d always wanted to do. Elvis Presley had been the first choice but he was unavailable, and since Colonel Parker was representing both performers, he was able to get the job for Sands. His appearance — and his best-selling record of “Teen-Age Crush” from the show — would make him a star (although he’d soon part ways with Parker).
From that point on, Tommy Sands would become the quintessential teen idol, leaving country music for pop tunes, making the kind of records that his teen fans would snap up. Along the way he’d have a short marriage to Nancy Sinatra (from 1960 to 1965) and also build a busy acting career. Although his roles often had a lot in common, he would go on to appear in many movies and make countless TV guest shots too.
At last report, the 70-something entertainer is still appearing for fans.