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Tom Nolan (born Bernard Girouard; January 15, 1948) is an American actor and journalist whose career dates back to his work as a child star in the 1950s and early 1960s. As a child actor, he was credited as Butch Bernard. In the 1960s, he was a writer for Cheetah, the Los Angeles Times and Rolling Stone. Nolan resides in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles.
January 15, 1948
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
|Years active||1952–2012; 2017|
Nolan was born Bernard Girouard in Montreal, Canada, to parents of French and Irish descent. His family moved to Beverly, Massachusetts, where he immediately started dance classes. His television debut was as Edward, Prince of Wales, the son of Henry VIII, on NBC's Hallmark Hall of Fame. Credited as Butch Bernard, the jug-eared lad often portrayed young boys with afflictions, such as a crippled youngster on an episode of CBS's My Friend Flicka or an asthmatic on NBC's Medic, the first television medical series. He appeared in a 1955 episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and two episodes of the NBC anthology series, Thriller: as a disturbed young boy in "Child's Play" and as a violently protective brother in "Parasite Mansion".
At the age of 10, Nolan was cast as Jody O'Connell in the NBC Western series Buckskin, which ran for 39 episodes from July 3, 1958, to September 14, 1959. It started as a summer replacement series for The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford, and was held over after a month's hiatus in October 1958. It was repeated in the summers of 1959 and 1965. The then 12-year-old Nolan summed up his situation accordingly:
"They teach you to succeed, but you're unprepared for failure. You're led to expect fame, but no one tells you about the rejection waiting at the end of the trip. Something fantastic had been given to me, then taken away, leaving a big hollow place at the center of my twelve-year-old life."
Sally Brophy played Jody's widowed mother, Annie O'Connell, who ran the boarding house in the fictitious town of Buckskin, Montana. Mike Road portrayed the marshal, Tom Sellers. The program was unique in that it was a nonviolent western seen from a child's perspective, with Tommy narrating each episode while sitting on his corral fence and playing his harmonica. The program focused on the interesting individuals who passed through Buckskin in the heyday of the Old West. The series was successful enough for a spin-off comic book with Nolan's character, and his autograph was sought at parades, conventions, and other public gatherings. Brophy and Nolan also appeared as a guest on The Ford Show.
After Buckskin (which continued in repeats on an irregular basis until 1965), Nolan appeared in other western series, such as CBS's Rawhide and Gunsmoke, ABC's The Rifleman and The Rebel, and NBC's Wagon Train and Riverboat (as young Tommy Jones in the 1959 episode, "The Boy from Pittsburgh"). He had a recurring role on CBS's Lassie as well. In 1966, Nolan also appeared on the WWII drama Combat! on the 4th season episode "Gitty" as Pvt. Hamilton.
Even before Buckskin, Nolan had unsuccessfully sought the lead role in Circus Boy but lost to Micky Dolenz, later of The Monkees. He was unable to find another regular series, and he ended the first half of his acting career with a small part in The Moonshine War (1970).
Nolan also acted in Billy Wilder's comedy Kiss Me, Stupid (1964) as the piano student Johnny Mulligan.
Nolan penned articles for Playboy, The Los Angeles Times, and the Village Voice. He later had minor roles in Up the Creek (1984), School Spirit (1985), Blue Heat (1990), Pretty Woman (1990), Taking Care of Business (1990), Pacific Heights (1990), The Thing Called Love (1993), and White Man's Burden (1995). He is sometimes confused with another actor also named Tom Nolan who appeared in Yanks (1979), Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), and Tequila Sunrise (1988).