‘The Mod Squad’ Star Michael Cole Opens Up About His Past Struggles With Alcohol — “I Started Drinking at Age 12”
In the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now, The Mod Squad’s Michael Cole opens up about his tumultuous journey from Wisconsin to Hollywood, a childhood spent drinking and getting into trouble, and how he overcame the many hardships along the way.
“I’ve had a very emotional, up-and-down life,” Michael explains to Closer. “We never had a dad — well, we did for a while, but he passed.”
“There were many times we didn’t have a place to live and we’d stay with aunts and uncles,” he shares. “I really started to get in a lot of trouble drinking.”
Michael in The Mod Squad.
On drinking at a young age, Michael confesses, “I was very young when I started, probably about 12 or 13. My locker at school was just full of old wine bottles. I was married at 16, became a father and quit school.”
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Michael moved to LA and eventually landed the iconic role of Pete Cochran on the hit series The Mod Squad from 1968 to 1973. The show catapulted him to fame, but it wasn’t until 1994 that Michael finally got help. “My wife Shelley said, ‘You better go to the Betty Ford Center,’” the actor, now 70, reveals to Closer. “And I wound up there within two days. I didn’t want to lose her — and she was right.”
Now, with two kids in their 50s living in Wisconsin and a 44-year-old daughter with Shelley, Michael credits her love and support for guiding him back on the right path. “My wife’s love made me realize that I had to recover. With love, every day is the best day,” he says.
Michael and Shelley in 2005.
Michael keeps busy with theater projects and an upcoming memoir, offering his words of wisdom to others struggling with similar demons. “I straightened myself out with the help of AA. If there are people out there in trouble with drugs or alcohol, I hope they get the message that they can do it, too,” he shares.
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“Booze and drugs give you a false sense of security,” Michael confesses. “Now I have Shelley, and for the first time in my life, I’m not scared of anything!”
For the full interview with Michael Cole, including how he met his wife, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now!