Michael Cole is the author of the new memoir I Played the White Guy. He is an actor whose roles included Pete Cochran on the TV show The Mod Squad, which ran from 1968-1973.
Q: At what point did you decide to write your memoir, and how did you decide what to include in the book?
A: For many years people would listen to my stories and tell me I need to write a book. I wanted to tell the story of my life honestly, just as if I was sitting, talking with an old friend. I have had incredible highs and suicidal lows, and my hope is that readers will relate, be entertained, and possibly be inspired.
Q: What impact did your role in The Mod Squad have on your life, and what impact do you think the show had during its run?
A: The Mod Squad dealt with issues television had never seen before: racism, the antiwar movement, guns, child abuse…we took many of our story lines directly from the headlines, and that’s what struck a chord with the audience.
The story of three counterculture cops, one black, one white, one blond who formed a bond of caring for each other resonated in a powerful way. I knew we were having an impact when we received hate mail.
Being cast as Pete Cochran changed my life in ways I could never have imagined. Aaron Spelling saw in me what he wanted for the role of Pete Cochran: a rebellious, angry, anti-authority kid who battled the system.
Q: You write about some very difficult experiences, including your struggles with alcoholism. How hard was it to relive those years?
A: It was very important to me to share this part of my life in the hope I could help others struggling with addiction. I had to be honest with myself and with the reader.
It was deeply emotional and sometimes painful re-living many of those times, and reflecting on those who I hurt and disappointed along the way. I hope the book will inspire people who are still battling to know they too, can find peace, one day at a time.
Q: What do your family members think of the book?
A: My family has been totally supportive since I started this project. They were prepared to enjoy the book, but now that it has actually been published, they have been amazed and surprised!
Q: What are you working on now?
A: Selling the book! We are doing a lot of radio and television interviews, book signing events throughout the country. It’s exciting to see that 50 years later, The Mod Squad remains relevant and meaningful to people.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: Thank you for asking. I just want to say I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to touch the lives of so many people over the years, and I hope this book in some sense is a thank you. Thank you for love, sobriety, and living “one day at a time.”
--Interview with Deborah Kalb