Tom taught school for one year in Purcell, Oklahoma before he journeyed to California to follow a dream he had since he was a boy. As a ten year old lad, Tom committed his life to Jesus Christ, and from that moment on, he believed the Lord would send him to California to seek an acting career.
Tom's teen through high school years were very rewarding, growing up in Laurel, MS on his grandfather's farm. After his high school graduation, he attended the University of Mississippi in Oxford, MS, where he received a B.A. degree in Chemistry and Biology. He also attended Graduate School at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.
Tom was a long, lanky country boy and became the brunt of many skinny jokes. As he and his friends discussed their future, Tom would mention his dream of becoming an actor. His friends' replied that he would never make it. He was too tall, too skinny, too ugly and he had a Southern accent. Even though his friends continued to discourage him Tom never stopped believing in his dream.
After college, Tom's year of teaching school was a great experience, but Hollywood was calling; he left home with meager finances and drove to Hollywood, California. Tom found the First Baptist Church of Beverly Hills, CA and there he was rewarded with many wonderful Christian experiences, which helped mold his commitment to God.
In Hollywood Tom met Lurene Tuttle, a marvelous and talented character actress and acting coach. They became great friends, and she became his acting coach. Tom said she was the only person who did not put him down when he mentioned the Lord was leading him to acting. Miss Tuttle told Tom to begin working in Little Theater. His first Little Theater experience was acting in showcases at the North Hollywood Playhouse. Participating in each of the showcases with Tom was a young actress by the name of Linda Kay Henning, who was playing Betty Jo in the hit TV series, Petticoat Junction. Linda Kay's father, Mr. Paul Henning, was the creator, producer and writer of the Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction and Executive Producer of Green Acres. Mr. Henning came to see Linda in the showcases, saw Tom and discovered his acting ability.
Tom soon received a phone call from Mr. Henning requesting that he meet Mr. Jay Sommers, who was the creator, producer and writer of the New Green Acres TV series. Tom was to try out for the part of Eb Dawson, the hired hand. Elated Tom met and performed for Mr. Sommers and was rewarded with a screen test, and was given the role of Eb. The studio read and tested over 400 other actors before choosing Tom.
Tom's success in the acting and speaking profession has been possible because of his gift of communication and never giving up even though all his friends told him he would never make it as an actor. Tom attests to the fact that there are no insignificant people, and that one does not have the right to do less than the best he can. Tom says, 'each person has the opportunity to choose and make quality decisions that can change and effect our lives forever.' Tom continued to follow his dream and is known by millions. He has had, and still has, the opportunity to share his faith around the world. Tom says true success is becoming everything God has gifted you to become. He works toward accomplishing this each day with God's help.