Richard Earl Thomas
June 13, 1951
Manhattan, New York, United States
|Education||Allen-Stevenson School, New York City (NYC)|
McBurney School, also NYC
|Alma mater||Columbia University (BA)|
(m. 1975; div. 1993)
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. He also received another Emmy nomination and two Golden Globe Award nominations for that role.
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.
Thomas was born on June 13, 1951, in Manhattan, New York, 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.
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.
Thomas was educated at two private day schools for boys, first at Allen-Stevenson School, 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. 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.
In 1958, at age seven, Thomas made his Broadway debut in Sunrise at Campobello. 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. 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) and Last Summer (also 1969) with Bruce Davison and Barbara Hershey (a summer coming-of-age movie).
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).
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, 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. Thomas won an Emmy Award for Best Actor in a Dramatic Series in 1973.
Thomas played against type as murderer and rapist Kenneth Kinsolving in You'll Like My Mother in 1972 with Patty Duke. He played the lead roles of Private Henry Fleming in the NBC TV movie The Red Badge of Courage in 1974 and Paul Bäumer in the 1979 CBS TV movie on All Quiet on the Western Front.
In other TV films, he played Col. Warner's younger son Jim in Roots: The Next Generations (the 1979 sequel to 1977's Roots), the title role in the biopic Living Proof: The Hank Williams Jr. Story in 1983, Will Mossup in CBS's Hobson's Choice in 1983, Henry Durie in The Master of Ballantrae for Hallmark Hall of Fame, Martin Campbell in Final Jeopardy, and the adult Bill Denbrough in the 1990 television mini-series adaptation of Stephen King's epic horror novel It.
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 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.
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.) In 1990, he joined with Nathan Lane at the Mark Taper Forum 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.
Thomas starred with Maureen O'Hara and his It co-star Annette O'Toole in the Hallmark Channel movie The Christmas Box in 1995.
Thomas appeared in a quartet of performances at the Hartford Stage in Connecticut including Hamlet (1987), 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.
In 2001, he appeared in London's West End in a theatre production of Yasmina Reza's Art with Judd Hirsch. He also appeared on the New York stage in The Public Theater's production in Central Park of As You Like It in 2005, Michael Frayn's Democracy on Broadway in 2004, and the Primary Stages' off-Broadway production of Terrence McNally's The Stendhal Syndrome in the same year.
He hosted the PAX TV series It's a Miracle. He starred in the series Just Cause in 2003 for the PAX TV network.
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.
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. In February and March 2011, he starred at the off-Broadway New York Public Theater in Timon of Athens.
Thomas played Frank Gaad in the FX Network period spy drama television series The Americans which debuted in January 2013.
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.
In December 2018, Thomas portrayed Ebenezer Scrooge in Pittsburgh CLO's production of A Musical Christmas Carol.
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.
Thomas married Alma Gonzales in 1975. In 1976, they had a son, Richard Francisco. Triplet daughters (Pilar, Barbara, and Gwyneth) were born in 1981. Thomas and Gonzales divorced in 1993.
Thomas married Santa Fe art dealer Georgiana Bischoff on November 20, 1994 and their son, Montana, was born in 1996. Richard adopted Bischoff's two daughters, Brooke and Kendra, who were from previous marriages. Thomas and Bischoff currently reside in New York. Their children are Richard Francisco, Pilar, Barbara, Gwyneth, Kendra, Brooke, and Montana James.
Sources: TCM, AllMovie
|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|
|2021||Christmas vs. the Walters||Roger|
|The Unforgivable||Michael Malcolm|
Sources: TCM, AllMovie, TV Guide
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|1973||Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series||The Waltons||Won|
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Actor – Television Series Drama||Nominated|
|1990||CableACE Awards||Best Actor in a Movie or Miniseries||Glory! Glory!||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|