instagram.com/ivaniannoli | Getty Images
Source: instagram.com/ivaniannoli | Getty Images

Peter Tork Was a Dad of 3 ⁠— His Daughter Was His Supporter during Decade-Long Cancer Battle That Turned Fatal

Oyin Balogun
May 23, 2022
03:00 P.M.
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Music star Peter Tork had a fulfilling heyday in his career, but towards his older years, the glamor waned and was replaced with an illness that he battled till the end.


Back in the day, when The Beatles ruled the music world, The Monkees were also making a name for themselves, and Peter Tork was in the center of it all.

Peter lived it all with The Monkees, enjoying parties, making music, and buying homes of his choice. Speaking to Rolling Stone about the glory days in 2019, Peter stated that the 60s were a fabulous time for him.

Davy Jones, Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith on the set of the television show The Monkees in August 1967 in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images


He recalled living large in Studio City when The Monkees had their thriving TV show. The keyboardist noted how they enjoyed the backyard pool nude because no one overlooked the mansion.

The music star also recalled one of his fun music sessions with The Beatles. He described how fulfilling it felt to play alongside Ringo Starr. Peter stated that he had learned from the legendary drummer within five minutes of play.

Studio portrait of The Monkees circa, 1970 | Source: Getty Images


He shared that his fame became pretty intense after The Monkees were done with the first installation of their TV show. The star included that he has three generations of fans, and it got overwhelming sometimes.

The "I'm A Believer" crooner took a moment of introspection, sharing that those glamorous days were over, but he did not mind where his later life was. He noted that his life as of the interview still felt glorious.


Peter Tork on the set of the television show The Monkees circa 1967 in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images


Peter played with The Monkees from 1966 to 1968 when he decided to go solo. At the time, he had quite a fortune and did not hesitate to be generous with it.

Peter gave out a lot of his money, not minding how he could go broke. All he thought was how he would recover his wealth once he found his footing, but this was not to be.


The "Daydream Believer" singer squandered his wealth by giving out a lot and never getting anything in return. This led him to become a teacher. Peter, a college dropout, found a job as a math, music drama, English, and Eastern philosophy teacher.

The celebrity instrumentalist also moved out of his lavish Studio city home into a modest three-bedroom house in Venice, California. He lived there with his daughter Hallie, who was six at the time, partner Barbara Iannoli, and their son Ivan Iannoli-Thorkelson.


Peter Tork, Davey Jones and Micky Dolenz of The Monkees pose during portrait session to announce the bands 45th anniversary tour held at The Groucho Club on February 21, 2011 in London, England. | Source: Getty Images


Despite his long hiatus from music and exit from The Monkees, Peter reunited with his band in the 1980s. They started making music together again until the 2000s, when he received his shocking health diagnosis.

Around 2008, Peter developed pain in his throat such that he would not swallow between meals and had to resort to thorough chewing before swallowing. He didn't think anything was out of place until a friend called his notice to see how his voice had changed.

Peter Tork attends the David T. Jones Memorial / Monkees Convention 2013 at the Sheraton Meadowlands Hotel & Conference Center on March 2, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey | Source: Getty Images


The superstar guitarist visited his doctor, and it was there it was discovered that he had throat cancer. A biopsy showed that Peter had been affected with adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC.)

The singer noted that his diagnosis came as a complete shock, but he played back to his younger days, noting that he used to drink and smoke heavily. He, however, added that he was sober for 28 years before his diagnosis.

Peter Tork performs at Peter Tork's "In This Generation: My Life in the Monkees and so much more" at The GRAMMY Museum on June 17, 2013 in Los Angeles, California | Source: Getty Images


Despite Peter's deductions, specialists have clarified that ACC is not a result of smoking and drinking. He underwent surgery in March 2009 and had the growth removed from deep down his throat and jaw area.

Following the emergency surgery, Peter could not eat nor talk at first and was fed through a tube. The star lost 20lbs and had to learn to speak again. All the while, his daughter Hallie stood by him.

Peter Tork of The Monkees performs in concert at Harrah's Resort on October 28, 2016 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. | Source: Getty Images


His wife, Pam Tork, also did not leave his side. Peter recalled crying after learning of his diagnosis and then thinking of the way forward. He noted that his wife never left his side after his surgery as she held his hands.



Peter's career spanned over five decades, ups and downs included, and through it all, he was married four times. His first marriage was to Jody Babb in 1964. Their union was short-lived, and they went their separate ways in the same year.

He did not take the marriage path again until 1973, when he met Reine Stewart. The two also had a short-lived union, and by 1974 they called it quits. Iannoli was his third wife, and they were together for twelve years.

He stayed unmarried until 2013, when he met Pam Tork. He and Pam were man and wife until his death. The duo lived out their days as a couple in Connecticut.


Peter had three kids throughout his marriages, with him and his first wife not having any children together. His first child is Hallie from his marriage to Stewart, and according to her social media pages, Hallie is a college professor.

Ivan is his second child from Iannolli, and he is a musician and art lover. Peter's youngest child is Erica from his relationship with Tammy Sestak. Erica was 21 years old at the time of his death.


Peter Tork of The Monkees performs live on stage at Town Hall on June 1, 2016 in New York City. | Source: Getty Images


The classic music star lived 77 years until 2019 when his death was announced. The family had released a statement on his official website stating how he battled ACC for ten years.

The statement relayed that Peter's bubbly nature helped him combat his cancer diagnosis with "unwavering humor and courage." The family also urged fans who wanted to show support to make donations to a scholarship fund at The Institute for The Musical Arts in Massachusetts.

Peter Tork of The Monkees performs at The Beacon Theatre on June 16, 2011 in New York City | Source: Getty Images

This was a way to keep his legacy blazing. Donations were channeled into a nonprofit to provide women with music education and get them integrated into music communities.