Richard Thomas (actor)

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Richard Thomas
Thomas at the Peabody Awards in May 2015
Richard Earl Thomas

(1951-06-13) June 13, 1951 (age 72)
Manhattan, New York, United States
EducationAllen-Stevenson School,[1] New York City (NYC)
McBurney School, also NYC
Alma materColumbia University (BA)
Years active1958–present
Alma Gonzales
(m. 1975; div. 1993)
Georgiana Bischoff
(m. 1994)

Richard Earl Thomas (born June 13, 1951) is an American actor. He is best known for his leading role as budding author John-Boy Walton in the CBS drama series The Waltons for which he won an Emmy Award.[2] He also received another Emmy nomination and two Golden Globe Award nominations for that role.[3]

Thomas later starred in the 1990 television miniseries adaptation of Stephen King's epic horror novel It, and played Special Agent Frank Gaad on FX's spy thriller series The Americans. More recently, he appeared in Netflix's Ozark and is touring with To Kill a Mockingbird as Atticus Finch.

Early life and education[edit]

Thomas was born on June 13, 1951, in Manhattan, the son of Barbara Fallis and Richard S. Thomas. His parents were dancers with the New York City Ballet and owned the New York School of Ballet.[4]

Thomas has a birthmark on his left cheek. He has stated that this led to his being turned down for a role in a television commercial in his youth.[5]

Thomas was educated at two private day schools for boys, first at Allen-Stevenson School,[1] and then at the now-defunct McBurney School, both in his home district of Manhattan, New York City.

He was a student at Columbia College, the undergraduate college of Columbia University, where he majored in Chinese before switching to the English department.[6] After he landed the role in The Waltons, he left Columbia during his junior year because he had to commit to the role full-time in Los Angeles.[7][8]

Acting career[edit]

Thomas at age 10 in 1, 2, 3 Go!

In 1958, at age seven, Thomas made his Broadway debut in Sunrise at Campobello.[4] In 1959, he appeared in the Hallmark Hall of Fame NBC television presentation of Ibsen's A Doll's House with Julie Harris, Christopher Plummer, and Hume Cronyn.[9] He then began acting in daytime TV, appearing in soap operas such as The Edge of Night (as Ben Schultz, 1961), A Flame in the Wind and As the World Turns (as Tom Hughes, 1966–67) which were broadcast from his native Manhattan. In 1970, he guest starred in NBC's Bonanza ("The Weary Willies").

Thomas's first major film roles were in Winning (1969) with Paul Newman (about auto racing)[10] and Last Summer (also 1969) with Bruce Davison and Barbara Hershey (a summer coming-of-age movie).[11]

In 1971, Thomas appeared in The Todd Killings, a psychological thriller released by National General Pictures, directed by Barry Shear and co-starring Robert F. Lyons, Belinda Montgomery and Barbara Bel Geddes, based on the true crimes of serial killer Charles Schmid. Also in 1971, he starred in Red Sky at Morning, and played the lead in Cactus in the Snow (an independent production, considered lost and difficult to acquire through VHS, DVD, or any other format).[12]

Thomas on the set of The Waltons in 1973

Beginning in 1972, Thomas became recognized worldwide for his portrayal of John-Boy Walton in the TV series The Waltons, based on the life story of writer Earl Hamner, Jr. He appeared in the original CBS television film The Homecoming: A Christmas Story in 1971,[13] which inspired the commissioning of the otherwise largely recast series, and then played the role continuously in 122 episodes. In March 1977, Thomas left the series and his role was taken over by Robert Wightman. However, Thomas returned to the role in three Waltons TV movies in the 1990s, including A Walton Thanksgiving Reunion in 1993.[14] Thomas won an Emmy Award for Best Actor in a Dramatic Series in 1973.[15]

Thomas played against type as murderer and rapist Kenneth Kinsolving in You'll Like My Mother in 1972 with Patty Duke.[16] He played the lead roles of Private Henry Fleming in the NBC TV movie The Red Badge of Courage in 1974[17] and Paul Bäumer in the 1979 CBS TV movie on All Quiet on the Western Front.[18]

In other TV films, he played Col. Warner's younger son Jim in Roots: The Next Generations (the 1979 sequel to 1977's Roots),[19] the title role in the biopic Living Proof: The Hank Williams Jr. Story in 1983,[20] Will Mossup in CBS's Hobson's Choice in 1983,[21] Henry Durie in The Master of Ballantrae for Hallmark Hall of Fame,[22] Martin Campbell in Final Jeopardy,[23] and the adult Bill Denbrough in the 1990 television mini-series It, adapted from Stephen King's horror novel.[24]

In 1980, Thomas made his first Broadway appearance in more than 12 years when he was a replacement in Lanford Wilson's Fifth of July.[25] In the same year, he appeared as Shad (the young farmer entrusted to employ mercenaries to save his planet from Sador and his invading forces) in Battle Beyond the Stars.[26]

In 1987, he appeared on stage in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., in the one-man tour-de-force Citizen Tom Paine (playing Paine "like a star-spangled tiger, ferocious about freedom and ready to savage anyone who stands in his way," in a staging of Howard Fast's play set in the bicentennial year of the United States Constitution).[27] In 1990, he joined with Nathan Lane at the Mark Taper Forum[28] in Los Angeles for Terrence McNally's The Lisbon Traviata in the role of Stephan. In 1993, he played the title role in a Shakespeare Theater stage production of Richard II in Washington, D.C.[29]

Thomas starred in the ABC TV movie Death in Small Doses, directed by Sondra Locke. He starred with Maureen O'Hara and his It co-star Annette O'Toole in the Hallmark Channel movie The Christmas Box in 1995.[30]

Thomas appeared in a quartet of performances at the Hartford Stage in Connecticut including Hamlet (1987),[31] Peer Gynt (1989), Richard III (1994) and Tiny Alice (1996). In 1997 and 1998, he played degenerate Joe Greene in two episodes of Touched by an Angel and four episodes of Promised Land.

In 2001, he appeared in London's West End in a theatre production of Yasmina Reza's Art with Judd Hirsch.[32] He also appeared on the New York stage in The Public Theater's production in Central Park of As You Like It in 2005,[33] Michael Frayn's Democracy on Broadway in 2004,[34] and the Primary Stages' off-Broadway production of Terrence McNally's The Stendhal Syndrome in the same year.[35]

He hosted the PAX TV series It's a Miracle.[36] He starred in the series Just Cause in 2003 for the PAX TV network.

Thomas with singer Stacey Robinson in 2014

In 2006, Thomas began an American theater tour of Reginald Rose's play Twelve Angry Men along with Cheers star George Wendt at the Shubert Theater in New Haven, Connecticut, playing the pivotal role of Juror Eight opposite Wendt's Juror One.[37]

In 2009 and 2010, Thomas was featured on Broadway in Race, a play by David Mamet. The production was directed by Mamet and included James Spader, David Alan Grier, and Kerry Washington.[38] In February and March 2011, he starred at the off-Broadway New York Public Theater in Timon of Athens.[39]

Thomas played Frank Gaad[4] in the FX Network period spy drama television series The Americans which debuted in January 2013.[40]

Thomas appeared in the 2017 Broadway revival of The Little Foxes and was nominated for a 2017 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play.[41]

In December 2018, Thomas portrayed Ebenezer Scrooge in Pittsburgh CLO's production of A Musical Christmas Carol.[42]

In February 2021, Thomas portrayed Bodie Lord in the Amazon thriller drama television series Tell Me Your Secrets, appearing in episode 5.

In January 2022, Thomas portrayed Wendy Byrde's estranged father, Nathan Davis, in three episodes of season 4 of the Netflix series Ozark.

Starting in April 2022, Thomas starred as Atticus Finch in a National Broadway tour of a stage production of Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird.

As of January 2023, Thomas has been credited on Audible for narrating over 340 books.

Personal life[edit]

Thomas married Alma Gonzales in 1975.[43] In 1976, they had a son. Triplet daughters were born in 1981.[44] Thomas and Gonzales divorced in 1993.[45]

Thomas married Santa Fe art dealer Georgiana Bischoff on November 20, 1994[44][46] and their son was born in 1996. Richard adopted Bischoff's two daughters who were from previous marriages.[44] Thomas and Bischoff currently reside in New York.[47]



Sources: TCM,[48] AllMovie[49]

Year Title Role Notes
1969 Winning Charley
Last Summer Peter
1971 Red Sky at Morning Joshua Arnold
The Todd Killings Billy Roy
Cactus in the Snow Harley MacIntosh Lost film; aka You Can't Have Everything or Soldier Story
1972 You'll Like My Mother Kenny Kinsolving
1974 Sisters of the Space Age Narrator Short film
1977 September 30, 1955 Jimmy J.
1980 Battle Beyond the Stars Shad
1989 Beyond the Prairie: The True Story of Laura Ingalls Wilder Charles Ingalls Video
2000 The Million Dollar Kid Ted Hunter
Wonder Boys Walter Gaskell
Bloodhounds Inc. Robert Hunter Video
2009 Taking Woodstock Reverend Don Darren Pettie
2015 Anesthesia Mr. Werth
2021 Christmas vs. the Walters Roger
The Unforgivable Michael Malcolm

Television films[edit]

Sources: TCM,[48] AllMovie,[49] TV Guide[50]

Year Title Role Notes
1959 A Doll's House Ivor
1971 The Homecoming: A Christmas Story John-Boy Walton
1974 The Red Badge of Courage Pvt. Henry Fleming
1975 The Silence Cadet James Pelosi
1978 Getting Married Michael Carboni
1979 No Other Love Andrew Madison
All Quiet on the Western Front Paul Baumer
1980 To Find My Son David Benjamin
1981 Berlin Tunnel 21 Lieutenant Sandy Mueller
Barefoot in the Park Paul Bratter
1982 Pavarotti & Friends Himself
Johnny Belinda William Richmond
Fifth of July Kenneth Talley Jr.
Christmas at Kennedy Center with Leontyne Price Himself
1983 Living Proof: The Hank Williams, Jr. Story Hank Williams Jr.
Hobson's Choice Will Mossup
1984 The Master of Ballantrae Henry Durie
1985 Final Jeopardy Marty Campbell
1988 Go Toward the Light Greg Madison
1989 Glory! Glory! Rev. Bobby Joe
1990 Andre's Mother Cal Porter – Andre's Lover
Common Ground Colin Diver
1991 Mission of the Shark Lieutenant Steven Scott
Yes Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus James O'Hanlan
1992 A Thousand Heroes Gary Brown aka Crash Landing: The Rescue of Flight 232
Lincoln John Hay Voice role
1993 I Can Make You Love Me Richard Farley aka Stalking Laura
Precious Victims Don Weber
Linda Paul Cowley
A Walton Thanksgiving Reunion John-Boy Walton
1994 To Save the Children David Young
1995 Death in Small Doses Richard Lyon
A Walton Wedding John-Boy Walton
Down, Out & Dangerous Tim Willows
The Christmas Box Richard Evans
1996 West Virginia: A Film History Narrator Voice role
What Love Sees Gordon Holly
Timepiece Richard Evans
1997 A Walton Easter John-Boy Walton
A Thousand Men and a Baby Dr. Hugh 'Bud' Keenan aka Narrow Escape
Flood: A River's Rampage Herb Dellenbach
1998 Big and Hairy Victor Dewlap
2000 In the Name of the People Jack Murphy
The Christmas Secret Jerry McNeil
2001 The Miracle of the Cards Dr. Neal Kassell
2002 Beyond the Prairie, Part 2 Charles Ingalls
Anna's Dream Rod Morgan
2005 Annie's Point Richard Eason
2006 Wild Hearts Bob
2011 Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow Dick aka Time after Time
2021 The Waltons' Homecoming John-Boy Walton (voice) / Host
2022 A Waltons Thanksgiving John-Boy Walton (voice) / Host

Television series[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1961 Way Out Jeremy Keeler Episode: "The Croaker"
Great Ghost Tales Conradin Episode: "Srendhi Vashtar"
The Defenders Johnny Remington Episode: "The Boy Between"
From These Roots Richard Unknown episodes
The Edge of Night Ben Schultz, Jr.
1961–1962 1, 2, 3 Go! Himself 5 episodes
1964 A Flame in the Wind Chris Austin Episode: "#1.1"
1965 Seaway Martin Anderson Episode: "Last Voyage"
1966–1967 As the World Turns Thomas Christopher Hughes #4 Unknown episodes
1969–1970 Marcus Welby, M.D. Dennis Alan Graham 2 episodes
1970 Medical Center Toby Tavormina Episode: "Runaway"
Bracken's World Alan Episode: "Fallen, Fallen Is Babylon"
Bonanza Billy Episode: "The Weary Willies"
1971 The F.B.I. John "Chill" Chilton Episode: "The Game of Terror"
1972 Night Gallery Ian Evans Episode: "The Sins of the Fathers"
1972–1977 The Waltons John-Boy Walton 124 episodes
1973 Match Game 73 Himself 5 episodes
1979 Roots: The Next Generations Jim Warner 3 episodes
1989 The Greatest Adventure: Stories from the Bible Mark Episode: "The Easter Story"
1990 Tales from the Crypt Dr. Trask Episode: "Mute Witness to Murder"
It Bill Denbrough 2 episodes
1995 The Outer Limits Dr. Stephen Ledbetter Episode: "The New Breed"
The Invaders Jerry Thayer 2 episodes
1996 Dave's World Himself Episode: "L.A. Times"
1997–1998 Promised Land Joe Greene 4 episodes
Touched by an Angel 2 episodes
1997 Riding the Rails Narrator TV documentary
1998 The Adventures of Swiss Family Robinson David Robinson 30 episodes
1999 The Practice Walter Arens Episode: "Committed"
1999–2001 It's a Miracle Host 24 episodes
2001 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Daniel Varney Episode: "Scourge"
2002–2003 Just Cause Hamilton Whitney III 22 episodes
2006 Nightmares & Dreamscapes Howard Cottrell Episode: "Autopsy Room Four"
2009 Law & Order Roger Jenkins Episode: "Dignity"
2011 Rizzoli & Isles Professor Dwayne Cravitz Episode: "Rebel Without a Pause"
2013–2016 The Americans Frank Gaad 41 episodes
2013 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Nat Randolph Episode: "Brief Interlude"
White Collar William Wolcott Episode: "Master Plan"
2014 The Good Wife Ed Pratt Episode: "Dear God"
2016 Chicago P. D. Adam Ames Episode: "A Night Owl"
Elementary Mitch Barrett Episode: "Henny Penny the Sky is Falling"
Conviction Earl Slavitt Episode: "A Different Kind of Death"
2017, 2019 Billions Sanford Bensinger 3 episodes
2017 Blue Bloods Congressman Richard Walters Episode: "Ghosts of the Past"
2019 The Blacklist David Foy Episode: "The Third Estate"
2019–2020 NCIS: New Orleans Deputy Director Van Cleef 2 episodes
2020 The Comey Rule Chuck Rosenberg 2 episodes
2021 Tell Me Your Secrets Bodie Lord 5 episodes
2022 Ozark Nathan Davis 9 episodes


  • What Love Sees (1996) (co-producer)
  • Summer of Fear (1996) (co-executive producer)
  • For All Time (2000) (co-executive producer)
  • Camping with Camus (2000) (producer)


Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
1973 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series The Waltons Won
1974 Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Television Series Drama[51] Nominated
1975 Nominated
1990 CableACE Awards Best Actor in a Movie or Miniseries Glory! Glory! Nominated
1995 Linda Nominated
2016 Drama Desk Awards Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play[52] Incident at Vichy Nominated
2017 Tony Awards Best Featured Actor in a Play[41] The Little Foxes Nominated


  1. ^ a b Marc Myers (July 9, 2019). "Actor Richard Thomas Got an Early Start on Broadway". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 25, 2023.
  2. ^ "Richard Thomas". Emmy Awards. Retrieved January 1, 2020.
  3. ^ "Richard Thomas". Golden Globe Awards. Retrieved January 1, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c "Richard Thomas talks about his life as a 'theater brat,' from John-Boy to 'The Humans' in Dallas". Dallas News. May 4, 2018.
  5. ^ "'The Waltons' Richard Thomas on Early Fame, "I Don't Know How Young Stars Today Survive!"". Closer Weekly. 10 April 2014. Archived from the original on December 12, 2016.
  6. ^ "Exclusive! Richard Thomas Reveals Little-Known Facts about Himself". Retrieved 2020-05-24.
  7. ^ Myers, Marc (2019-07-09). "Actor Richard Thomas Got an Early Start on Broadway". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2020-05-24.
  8. ^ "Notes on People". The New York Times. 1975-02-14. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-08-08.
  9. ^ " 'A Doll's House' 1959", retrieved October 25, 2017
  10. ^ Winning Turner Classic Movies, retrieved October 25, 2017
  11. ^ Canby, Vincent. "Screen: 'Last Summer':Cinema I Film Brings Trio of Newcomers" The New York Times, June 11, 1969
  12. ^ Richard Thomas at the American Film Institute Catalog
  13. ^ The Homecoming Turner Classic Movies, retrieved October 25, 2017
  14. ^ A Walton Thanksgiving Reunion, retrieved October 25, 2017
  15. ^ "Nominees/Winners". Television Academy.
  16. ^ You’ll Like My Mother Turner Classic Movies, retrieved October 25, 2017
  17. ^ The Red Badge of Courage Turner Classic Movies, retrieved October 25, 2017
  18. ^ All Quiet on the Western Front Turner Classic Movies, retrieved October 25, 2017
  19. ^ Roots: The Next Generations Turner Classic Movies, retrieved October 25, 2017
  20. ^ Living Proof: The Hank Williams, Jr., Story Turner Classic Movies, retrieved October 25, 2017
  21. ^ Hobson’s Choice, retrieved October 25, 2017
  22. ^ The Master of Ballantrae Turner Classic Movies, retrieved October 25, 2017
  23. ^ Final Jeopardy Turner Classic Movies, retrieved October 25, 2017
  24. ^ Stephen King’s It Turner Classic Movies, retrieved October 25, 2017
  25. ^ Fifth of July Playbill, retrieved October 25, 2017
  26. ^ Battle Beyond the Stars Turner Classic Movies, retrieved October 25, 2017
  27. ^ Louise Sweeney (1987). "On stage: reliving historic turning points. Howard Fast's 'Citizen Tom Paine'." The Christian Science Monitor. March 12, 1987)
  28. ^ "1988–1997".
  29. ^ Brantley, Ben. "Review/Theater: Richard II; Richard Thomas Puts His Stamp On Giving Up a Throne Vigorously" The New York Times, September 22, 1993
  30. ^ McCarthy, John P. "Cbs Sunday Movie 'the Christmas Box' " Variety, December 13, 1995
  31. ^ Winer, Laurie. "Theater; An Actor's Long Road from Sitcoms to Elsinore" The New York Times, September 27, 1987
  32. ^ Paddock, Terri. "Hirsch, Thomas and Morton Return for 19th UK 'Art' Cast, July 31" Playbill, July 18, 2001
  33. ^ Simonson, Robert. "Lynn Collins and Brian Bedford Offer the Bard's 'As You Like It' in Central Park, June 25" Playbill, June 25, 2005
  34. ^ Simonson, Robert. "Broadway's 'Democracy' to Close on April 17" Playbill, April 1, 2005
  35. ^ Hernandez, Ernio. "Rossellini and Thomas Fall Under McNally's 'Stendhal Syndrome', Opens Feb. 16" Playbill, February 16, 2004
  36. ^ " 'It’s a Miracle' Cast" TV Guide, retrieved October 26, 2017
  37. ^ Higgins, Beau. "Richard Thomas-George Wendt in 'Twelve Angry Men'", May 5, 2007
  38. ^ Brantley, Ben. "In Mametland, a Skirmish in Black and White" The New York Times, December 6, 2009
  39. ^ Soloski, Alexis. " 'Timon of Athens' Kicks Off Public Lab Shakespeare" The Village Voice, March 2, 2011
  40. ^ Tucker, Ken (January 30, 2013). "he Americans premier review: Are you rooting for these Russians?". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
  41. ^ a b "Tony Awards 2017: Complete Winners List" Variety, June 11, 2017
  42. ^ "A Musical Christmas Carol". Pittsburgh CLO. Retrieved December 23, 2018.
  43. ^ "The Waltons - Articles, People Weekly 1982". Retrieved 2020-09-10.
  44. ^ a b c "Mountains of Love" People, December 5, 1994
  45. ^ Pilato, Herbie J. (July 20, 2016). Dashing, Daring, and Debonair: TV's Top Male Icons from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9781630760533 – via Google Books.
  46. ^ "John-Boy's Wedding Will Imitate Actor's Life | The Spokesman-Review". Retrieved 2020-09-10.
  47. ^ David, Mark (2017-09-15). "Richard Thomas Lists Co-op in Historic Alwyn Court in Midtown Manhattan". Variety. Retrieved 2020-09-10.
  48. ^ a b "Richard Thomas films" Turner Classic Movies, retrieved October 26, 2017
  49. ^ a b "Richard Thomas films", retrieved October 26, 2017
  50. ^ "Richard Thomas TV" TV Guide, retrieved October 26, 2017
  51. ^ "Richard Thomas Golden Globes", retrieved October 26, 2017
  52. ^ Cox, Gordon. "Drama Desk Nominations: ‘She Loves Me,’ ‘American Psycho’ Earn Most Nods (FULL LIST)" Variety, April 28, 2016

External links[edit]