After appearing with Mary Martin in "Annie Get Your Gun" for 22 months, Tommy was offered more stage roles, including "Peter Pan" and "The Member of the Wedding," the latter play made famous by Brandon de Wilde. His strong-willed mother, however, decided Tommy should go for the movies. Ironically, Tommy won the boy role on "Lassie" after de Wilde turned it down.
Father to actor Mason Storm.
For the last ten or so years of his life (starting 1984, maybe earlier), Tom was a computer software developer working on business application frameworks. He was regarded as one of the experts; a software guru in the area of desktop PC database applications such as dBase. At the time of his untimely death, he was a central figure in the community of FoxPro database developers and his passing was felt professionally and personally by many who had come to know Tom as a visionary and as generous mentor.
More than anything else, due to his shortness in height (5' 4"), his adult career never panned out.
TV folklore has it that when the producers had narrowed the casting down to three boy juveniles for the part of Lassie's young master, they allowed Lassie herself to make the final decision. Supposely the dog walked straight over to Tommy and affectionately nuzzled the boy, thus winning him the role.
Was Marilyn Monroe's youngest date ever when he escorted her to the premiere of "River of No Return" in 1954.