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Thomas at the Peabody Awards, May 2015
Richard Earl Thomas
June 13, 1951 (age 68)
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
(m. 1975; div. 1993)
Georgiana Bischoff (m. 1994)
|Parent(s)||Richard S. Thomas|
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 The Waltons, for which he won one Emmy Award and received nominations for another Emmy Award and two Golden Globe Awards. He also played Special Agent Frank Gaad on FX's spy thriller series The Americans (2013–2016), appeared in Stephen King's miniseries IT (1990), and had a supporting role in the comedy-drama film Wonder Boys (2000).
Thomas was born in Manhattan, the son of Barbara (née Fallis) and Richard S. Thomas, in 1951. His parents were dancers with the New York City Ballet and owned the New York School of Ballet. He attended The Allen Stevenson School and the McBurney School in Manhattan. Thomas was seven when he made his Broadway debut in Sunrise at Campobello (1958) playing John Roosevelt, son of future U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Thomas soon began his television career. In 1959, he appeared in the Hallmark Hall of Fame NBC TV presentation of Ibsen's A Doll's House with Julie Harris, Christopher Plummer and Hume Cronyn. 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.
Thomas received his first major film roles, appearing in Winning (1969) with Paul Newman, about auto racing, and Last Summer (also 1969) with Bruce Davison and Barbara Hershey, a summer coming-of-age movie. He starred in the Universal Pictures/Hal Wallis Production Red Sky at Morning (1971), which was a financial failure.
He became internationally recognized for his portrayal of John "John-Boy" Walton, Jr., in the 1970s TV series The Waltons, which was based on the real life story of writer Earl Hamner, Jr. He appeared in the CBS television film The Homecoming: A Christmas Story (1971), which inspired the commissioning of the largely recast series, and then played the role continuously in 122 episodes until March 17, 1977. Thomas left the series and his role was taken over by Robert Wightman, but Thomas returned to the role in three Waltons TV movies, 1993–97. (The first was A Walton Thanksgiving Reunion in 1993.) Thomas won an Emmy for Best Actor in a Dramatic Series in 1973. He enrolled in Columbia College of Columbia University as a member of the class of 1973 but left after his junior year.
In 1972, he played against type as murderer and rapist Kenneth Kinsolving in You'll Like My Mother opposite Patty Duke. He played the lead roles of Private Henry Fleming in the 1974 NBC TV movie The Red Badge of Courage, and Paul Baumer in the 1979 Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie on CBS All Quiet on the Western Front.
In other TV movies, he played Col. Warner's younger son Jim in Roots: The Next Generations (1979) (the sequel to the Emmy-winning Roots); the title role in the biopic Living Proof: The Hank Williams, Jr., Story (1983); Will Mossup in the Hobson's Choice (CBS, 1983); Henry Durrie in The Master of Ballantrae (1984) for Hallmark Hall of Fame; Martin Campbell in Final Jeopardy (1985); and the adult Bill Denbrough in Stephen King's It (1990).
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. In 1980, 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.
In 1987, he appeared on stage in Philadelphia and Washington DC in the one-man tour-de-force Citizen Tom Paine. In 1993, he played the title role in a Shakespeare Theater (Washington, DC) stage production of Richard II.
Thomas appeared in a quartet of performances at the Hartford Stage in Connecticut: Hamlet (1987), Peer Gynt (1989), Richard III (1994), and Tiny Alice (1996). In 1997 and 1998, he appeared on Touched by an Angel.
In 2001, he appeared in London's West End in a theater production of Yasmina Reza's Art with Judd Hirsch; on the New York stage in The Public Theater's production in Central Park of As You Like It (2005); Michael Frayn's Democracy on Broadway (2004) and the Primary Stages' Off-Broadway production of Terrence McNally's The Stendhal Syndrome (2004).
He has served as national chairman of the Better Hearing Institute, having suffered a hearing loss in his early 30s.
In 2006, Thomas began an American theater tour of Reginald Rose's play Twelve Angry Men, along with George Wendt at the Shubert Theater in New Haven, Connecticut, playing the pivotal role of Juror Eight opposite Wendt's Juror One.
In 2009–2010, 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. In February and March 2011, he starred at the Off-Broadway New York Public Theater in Timon of Athens.
Thomas had a supporting role in the FX Network Cold War drama The Americans, which debuted in January 2013. He played Frank Gaad, an FBI counterintelligence supervisor helping to investigate KGB sleeper agents in early 1980s America.
In December 2018, Thomas portrayed Ebenezer Scrooge in Pittsburgh CLO's production of A Musical Christmas Carol.
His book of poetry, Glass (1981), was published in a letterpress limited edition by Kenward Elmslie's Z Press.
Thomas married Alma Gonzales on February 14, 1975. They had one son born in 1976 and triplet daughters born in 1981. The couple divorced in 1993.
|1971||Red Sky at Morning||Joshua Arnold|
|1971||The Todd Killings||Billy Roy|
|1971||Cactus in the Snow||Harley MacIntosh||aka You Can't Have Everything|
|1972||You'll Like My Mother||Kenny|
|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|
|2000||Wonder Boys||Walter Gaskell|
|2000||Bloodhounds Inc.||Robert Hunter||Video|
|2009||Taking Woodstock||Reverend Don Darren Pettie|
|1959||A Doll's House||Ivor|
|1971||The Homecoming: A Christmas Story||John-Boy Walton|
|1973||The Thanksgiving Story||N/A|
|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|
|1979||All Quiet on the Western Front||Paul Baumer|
|1980||To Find My Son||David Benjamin|
|1981||Berlin Tunnel 21||Lieutenant Sandy Mueller|
|1981||Barefoot in the Park||Paul Bratter|
|1982||Pavarotti & Friends||Himself|
|1982||Johnny Belinda||William Richmond|
|1982||Fifth of July||Kenneth Talley Jr.|
|1982||Christmas at Kennedy Center with Leontyne Price||Himself|
|1983||Living Proof: The Hank Williams, Jr. Story||Hank Williams Jr.|
|1983||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|
|1990||Common Ground||Colin Diver|
|1991||Mission of the Shark||Lieutenant Steven Scott|
|1991||Yes Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus||James O'Hanlan|
|1992||A Thousand Heroes||Gary Brown||aka Crash Landing: The Rescue of Flight 232|
|1992||Lincoln||John Hay||Voice role|
|1993||I Can Make You Love Me||Richard Farley||aka Stalking Laura|
|1993||Precious Victims||Don Weber|
|1993||A Walton Thanksgiving Reunion||John-Boy Walton|
|1994||To Save the Children||David Young|
|1995||Death in Small Doses||Richard Lyon|
|1995||A Walton Wedding||John-Boy Walton|
|1995||Down, Out & Dangerous||Tim Willows|
|1995||The Christmas Box||Richard Evans|
|1996||West Virginia: A Film History||Narrator||Voice role|
|1996||What Love Sees||Gordon Holly|
|1997||A Walton Easter||John-Boy Walton|
|1997||A Thousand Men and a Baby||Dr. Hugh 'Bud' Keenan||aka Narrow Escape|
|1997||Flood: A River's Rampage||Herb Dellenbach|
|1998||Big and Hairy||Victor Dewlap|
|2000||In the Name of the People||Jack Murphy|
|2000||The Christmas Secret||Jerry McNeil|
|2001||The Miracle of the Cards||Dr. Neal Kassell|
|2002||Beyond the Prairie, Part 2||Charles Ingalls|
|2002||Anna's Dream||Rod Morgan|
|2005||Annie's Point||Richard Eason|
|2011||Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow||Dick|
|1961||Way Out||Jeremy Keeler||Episode: "The Croaker"|
|1961||Great Ghost Tales||Conradin||Episode: "Srendhi Vashtar"|
|1961||The Defenders||Johnny Remington||Episode: "The Boy Between"|
|1961–62||1, 2, 3 Go!||Himself||5 episodes|
|1961||From These Roots||Richard||Unknown episodes|
|1961||The Edge of Night||Ben Schultz, Jr.||Unknown episodes|
|1964||A Flame in the Wind||Chris Austin||Episode: "#1.1"|
|1965||Seaway||Martin Anderson||Episode: "Last Voyage"|
|1966–67||As the World Turns||Thomas Christopher Hughes #4||Unknown episodes|
|1969–70||Marcus Welby, M.D.||Dennis Alan Graham||2 episodes|
|1970||Medical Center||Toby Tavormina||Episode: "Runaway"|
|1970||Bracken's World||Alan||Episode: "Fallen, Fallen Is Babylon"|
|1970||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"|
|1972–77||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"|
|1990||It||Bill Denbrough||2 episodes|
|1995||The Outer Limits||Dr. Stephen Ledbetter||Episode: "The New Breed"|
|1995||The Invaders||Jerry Thayer||2 episodes|
|1996||Dave's World||Himself||Episode: "L.A. Times"|
|1997–98||Promised Land||Joe Greene||4 episodes|
|1997–98||Touched by an Angel||Joe Greene||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"|
|2001||Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Daniel Varney||Episode: "Scourge"|
|2002–03||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"|
|2013–16||The Americans||Frank Gaad||41 episodes|
|2013||Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Nat Randolph||Episode: "Brief Interlude"|
|2013||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"|
|2016||Elementary||Mitch Barrett||Episode: "Henny Penny the Sky is Falling"|
|2016||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"|
|1973||Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series||The Waltons||Won|
|1974||Golden Globe Awards||Best Actor – Television Series Drama||Nominated|
|Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series||Nominated|
|1975||Golden Globe Awards||Best Actor – Television Series Drama||Nominated|
|1990||CableACE Awards||Best Actor in a Movie or Miniseries||Glory! Glory!||Nominated|
|1995||CableACE Awards||Best Actor in a Movie or Miniseries||Linda||Nominated|
|2016||Drama Desk Awards||Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play||Incident at Vichy||Nominated|
|2017||Tony Awards||Best Featured Actor in a Play||The Little Foxes||Nominated|
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