(Betty White has been an animal activist for years inbetween making movies and being on many TV shows. Her and Tom Sullivan wrote the book "Together")

Betty White's Tribute to Tom Sullivan - Tom singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl


Tom Sullivan, known to many as an actor, singer, entertainer, author, and producer, lives and works by “Sullivan’s Rules.” As a young boy he found himself fenced in his back yard, but he refused to be fenced in by his blindness. “Sullivan’s Rules” were invented by Tom and his father, Porky Sullivan, so he could play baseball with the neighborhood boys without the benefit of seeing the ball. It became the most popular game on the block. And “Sullivan’s Rules” became the rules to play by in the sighted world and that meant playing almost anything.

One of Sullivan’s first rules is that “Any negative can be turned into positive.” Born prematurely in 1947, Tom was given too much oxygen while in an incubator. Though it saved his life, it cost him his eyesight. The “inconvenience” of being blind has never kept Tom Sullivan from competing in a world where he realized that to be equal, for him, meant that he must be better. Even as he may have had to change the rules slightly, he has proven that one need not be limited by a handicap whether it is playing backyard baseball as a youngster, or in any activity he's pursued. Tom is an excellent golfer: “I’ve never seen a water hazard. I always have an open shot to the green.” He’s an avid snow skier and a marathon runner, and has recently been inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Song sung by Tom Sullivan and Helen Reddy

Having spent the early part of his career pursuing his ambition as a singer and composer, Tom started out playing the piano in summer resorts in New England. He eventually gained national prominence with appearances on The Tonight Show, a major recording contract, and a steady stream of gigs in Las Vegas and resorts around the country. One very memorable highlight of his musical career was when he sang a moving rendition of The Star Spangled Banner at the 1976 Super Bowl Game Bicentennial Celebration. Although music was his primary focus, Tom's limitless energy and ambition would combine to lead him into a series of successes in the entertainment industry.

In 1975, Tom’s autobiography, If You Could See What I Hear, co written with Derek Gill, took him on yet another journey this time as an author. The story is an inspirational one of Tom’s childhood in Boston, his neighborhood friends and their antics, and the lessons and resulting wisdom from his family experiences. It is a coming of age story of his school days, first at the Perkins Institute for the Blind, where he excelled in everything he attempted, through his college years at Providence College and then at Harvard. Ultimately, it is also a love story about his romance and marriage to his wife, Patty, and the beginning of a family that is to this day the most cherished part of his life.

The best-selling book has been called “…a testament to courage, the competitive spirit and delight in life.” If You Could See What I Hear became a major motion picture in 1982. Tom composed and performed much of the music for the film, which starred Marc Singer as the young Sullivan.


Tom has gone on to write Common Sense, a children's book chronicling the adventures of the five senses through a group of imaginative fantasy characters; and You Are Special, a collection of stories about some of the special people he's known that celebrates the uniqueness of individuals regardless of handicap, disadvantage or social label. Next came the best seller, The Leading Lady, Dinah's Story, co-authored with friend and actress, Betty White. This book highlights the unique relationship between Dinah, Tom's guide dog and the people whose lives she forever changed. Tom followed with the work he says means the most to him, Special Parent, Special Child, a book that chronicles the life experiences of parents who struggle to raise their children with special needs. For relief, you might enjoy sharing That Nelson with your children. It's the story of a precocious black lab who now serves as Tom's guide dog. Seeing Lessons: 14 Life Secrets I’ve Learned Along the Way has been recognized by The New York City Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Books for a Better Life, which recognizes the authors and publishers of the best self-improvement books of the year. Seeing Lessons won the Motivational Category.

In his latest title Adventures in Darkness, Tom takes readers through his monumental eleventh summer. Blind since birth, Tom lived in a challenging world of isolation and special treatment. But he was driven to break out and live as sighted people do. This book is a hair-raising, heart-warming experience that culminates in Tom's determination to realize his dreams of a "normal" life.

As a special correspondent for ABC's Good Morning America, Tom has become a regular morning fixture in millions of American homes. His touching and insightful reports give many that “you can do it” bit of inspiration to start their day. Whether it was snow skiing with his son in Colorado, or interviewing the legendary Jack Nicklaus over a few holes of golf, his reporting is memorable. He is now writing and producing for television and film.

Sullivan's Rules were put to work again in acting. Over the years he's made a number of guest starring appearances in shows such as Designing Women, Highway To Heaven, Fame, M.A.S.H, Mork & Mindy, and WKRP In Cincinnati. But to create the characters and fulfill the role of a blind man on prime time, he also helped write and develop many of these stories. He gained popularity on daytime TV as a regular on Search For Tomorrow, and was awarded the 1984 Governors Committee Award for his role. Tom has also been nominated twice for Emmy Awards.

In films he's had roles in Airport '77, Black Sunday and Love's Dark Ride, a movie of the week. working behind the scenes, Tom was the co-writer and co-producer of Blind Witness, an ABC movie of the week.

It is only fitting that with his wealth of experience and commitment he would become one of the most sought after motivational speakers on the circuit. Tom has communicated his tailored message of hope and possibility to over 1,000 corporations and universities. What he gives of himself is returned in abundance by his audiences with responses like, “Your wit and wisdom and, most of all, your high spiritual consciousness reached out and touched all of us in a most beautiful and meaningful way.”


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