Richard Thomas (actor)

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 starred in Stephen King's miniseries It and played Special Agent Frank Gaad on FX's spy thriller series The Americans.

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

(1951-06-13) June 13, 1951
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
Years active1958–present
Alma Gonzales
(m. 1975; div. 1993)

Georgiana Bischoff (m. 1994)
Parent(s)Richard S. Thomas
Barbara Fallis

Early life and family

Thomas was born in Manhattan, the son of Barbara (née Fallis) and Richard S. Thomas, in 1951.[1] His parents were dancers with the New York City Ballet and owned the New York School of Ballet.[2]

Thomas married Alma Gonzales on February 14, 1975. They had one son born in 1976 and triplet daughters born in 1981.[3] The couple divorced in 1993.[4]

Thomas married Georgiana Bischoff on November 20, 1994,[3] and they had one son born in 1996. Bischoff has two daughters from previous marriages.[3]

Thomas is noted for a distinctive nevus 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]

Acting career

In 1958, at age seven, Thomas made his Broadway debut in Sunrise at Campobello.[2] 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.[6] 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,[7] and Last Summer (also 1969) with Bruce Davison and Barbara Hershey, a summer coming-of-age movie.[8] He starred in the Universal Pictures/Hal Wallis Production Red Sky at Morning (1971).[9]

Thomas 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),[10] 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.[11]) Thomas won an Emmy for Best Actor in a Dramatic Series in 1973.[12]

In 1972, he played against type as murderer and rapist Kenneth Kinsolving in You'll Like My Mother opposite Patty Duke.[13] He played the lead roles of Private Henry Fleming in the 1974 NBC TV movie The Red Badge of Courage,[14] and Paul Baumer in the 1979 Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie on CBS All Quiet on the Western Front.[15]

In other TV films, he played Col. Warner's younger son Jim in Roots: The Next Generations (1979) (the sequel to the Emmy-winning Roots);[16] the title role in the biopic Living Proof: The Hank Williams, Jr., Story (1983);[17] Will Mossup in the Hobson's Choice (CBS, 1983);[18] Henry Durrie in The Master of Ballantrae (1984) for Hallmark Hall of Fame;[19] Martin Campbell in Final Jeopardy (1985);[20] and the adult Bill Denbrough in Stephen King's It (1990).[21]

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.[22] 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.[23]

In 1987, he appeared on stage in Philadelphia and Washington DC 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 in the bicentennial year of the United States Constitution. (Louise Sweeney (1987). "On stage: reliving historic turning points. Howard Fast's 'Citizen Tom Paine'." "The Christian Science Monitor." March 12, 1987.) In 1993, he played the title role in a Shakespeare Theater (Washington, DC) stage production of Richard II.[24]

Thomas starred with Maureen O'Hara and Annette O'Toole in the Hallmark Channel movie The Christmas Box in 1995. O'Toole and Thomas had starred in It together five years earlier.[25]

Thomas appeared in a quartet of performances at the Hartford Stage in Connecticut: Hamlet (1987),[26] 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;[27] on the New York stage in The Public Theater's production in Central Park of As You Like It (2005);[28] Michael Frayn's Democracy on Broadway (2004)[29] and the Primary Stages' Off-Broadway production of Terrence McNally's The Stendhal Syndrome (2004).[30]

He hosted the PAX TV series It's a Miracle.[31][32] He starred in the series Just Cause in 2003 for the PAX TV network.[33]

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.[34]

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.[35] In February and March 2011, he starred at the Off-Broadway New York Public Theater in Timon of Athens.[36]

Thomas had a supporting role in the FX Network Cold War drama The Americans, which debuted in January 2013.[37] He played Frank Gaad, an FBI counterintelligence investigator.[2]

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.[38]

In December 2018, Thomas portrayed Ebenezer Scrooge in Pittsburgh CLO's production of A Musical Christmas Carol.[39]



Sources: TCM;[40] AllMovie[41]

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 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
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

Television films

Sources: TCM;[40] AllMovie;[41] TV Guide[42]

Year Title Role Notes
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
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

Television series

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"
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 NCIS: New Orleans Deputy Director Van Cleef Episode: "Judgement Call"
TBA A Higher Loyalty Chuck Rosenberg Upcoming miniseries


  • 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

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[43]
1990 CableACE Awards Best Actor in a Movie or Miniseries Glory! Glory!
1995 Linda
2016 Drama Desk Awards Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play[44] Incident at Vichy
2017 Tony Awards Best Featured Actor in a Play[38] The Little Foxes


  1. "Richard Thomas Biography (1951-)". Retrieved May 30, 2017.
  2. "Richard Thomas talks about his life as a 'theater brat,' from John-Boy to 'The Humans' in Dallas". Dallas News. May 4, 2018.
  3. "Mountains of Love" People, December 5, 1994
  4. Pilato, Herbie J. (July 20, 2016). "Dashing, Daring, and Debonair: TV's Top Male Icons from the 50s, 60s, and 70s". Rowman & Littlefield via Google Books.
  5. "'The Waltons' Richard Thomas on Early Fame, "I Don't Know How Young Stars Today Survive!"". Closer Weekly. April 10, 2014. Archived from the original on December 12, 2016.
  6. " 'A Doll's House' 1959", retrieved October 25, 2017
  7. Winning Turner Classic Movies, retrieved October 25, 2017
  8. Canby, Vincent. "Screen: 'Last Summer':Cinema I Film Brings Trio of Newcomers" The New York Times, June 11, 1969
  9. Richard Thomas at the American Film Institute Catalog
  10. The Homecoming Turner Classic Movies, retrieved October 25, 2017
  11. A Walton Thanksgiving Reunion, retrieved October 25, 2017
  12. "Nominees/Winners". Television Academy.
  13. You’ll Like My Mother Turner Classic Movies, retrieved October 25, 2017
  14. The Red Badge of Courage Turner Classic Movies, retrieved October 25, 2017
  15. All Quiet on the Western Front Turner Classic Movies, retrieved October 25, 2017
  16. Roots: The Next Generations Turner Classic Movies, retrieved October 25, 2017
  17. Living Proof: The Hank Williams, Jr., Story Turner Classic Movies, retrieved October 25, 2017
  18. Hobson’s Choice, retrieved October 25, 2017
  19. The Master of Ballantrae Turner Classic Movies, retrieved October 25, 2017
  20. Final Jeopardy Turner Classic Movies, retrieved October 25, 2017
  21. Stephen King’s It Turner Classic Movies, retrieved October 25, 2017
  22. Fifth of July Playbill, retrieved October 25, 2017
  23. Battle Beyond the Stars Turner Classic Movies, retrieved October 25, 2017
  24. Brantley, Ben. "Review/Theater: Richard II; Richard Thomas Puts His Stamp On Giving Up a Throne Vigorously" The New York Times, September 22, 1993
  25. McCarthy, John P. "Cbs Sunday Movie 'the Christmas Box' " Variety, December 13, 1995
  26. Winer, Laurie. "Theater; An Actor's Long Road from Sitcoms to Elsinore" The New York Times, September 27, 1987
  27. Paddock, Terri. "Hirsch, Thomas and Morton Return for 19th UK 'Art' Cast, July 31" Playbill, July 18, 2001
  28. Simonson, Robert. "Lynn Collins and Brian Bedford Offer the Bard's 'As You Like It' in Central Park, June 25" Playbill, June 25, 2005
  29. Simonson, Robert. "Broadway's 'Democracy' to Close on April 17" Playbill, April 1, 2005
  30. Hernandez, Ernio. "Rossellini and Thomas Fall Under McNally's 'Stendhal Syndrome', Opens Feb. 16" Playbill, February 16, 2004
  31. " 'It’s a Miracle' Cast", retrieved October 26, 2017
  32. " 'It’s a Miracle' Cast" TV Guide, retrieved October 26, 2017
  33. " 'Just Cause' Cast", October 26, 2017
  34. Higgins, Beau. "Richard Thomas-George Wendt in 'Twelve Angry Men'", May 5, 2007
  35. Brantley, Ben. "In Mametland, a Skirmish in Black and White" The New York Times, December 6, 2009
  36. Soloski, Alexis. " 'Timon of Athens' Kicks Off Public Lab Shakespeare" The Village Voice, March 2, 2011
  37. Tucker, Ken (January 30, 2013). "he Americans premier review: Are you rooting for these Russians?". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
  38. "Tony Awards 2017: Complete Winners List" Variety, June 11, 2017
  39. "A Musical Christmas Carol". Pittsburgh CLO. Retrieved December 23, 2018.
  40. "Richard Thomas films" Turner Classic Movies, retrieved October 26, 2017
  41. "Richard Thomas films", retrieved October 26, 2017
  42. "Richard Thomas TV" TV Guide, retrieved October 26, 2017
  43. "Richard Thomas Golden Globes", retrieved October 26, 2017
  44. Cox, Gordon. "Drama Desk Nominations: ‘She Loves Me,’ ‘American Psycho’ Earn Most Nods (FULL LIST)" Variety, April 28, 2016
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