Richard Earl Thomas (born June 13, 1951) is an American actor, best known for his leading role as budding author John-Boy Walton in the series “The Waltons.” During his career, Thomas won an Emmy Award, and received nominations for another Emmy Award and two Golden Globe Awards.
Thomas was born Richard Earl Thomas in New York, 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 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) 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 Barbara Hershey, a summer coming-of-age movie.
He became nationally recognized for his portrayal of John "John-Boy" Walton, Jr., in the 1970s TV series “The Waltons,” which was based on the real life of writer Earl Hamner, Jr. He appeared in the 1971 pilot “The Homecoming,” 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. Thomas won an Emmy for Best Actor in a Dramatic Series in 1972. He enrolled in Columbia College of Columbia University as a member of the class of 1973 but left after his junior year.
He played the lead roles of Private Henry Fleming in the 1974 TV movie “The Red Badge of Courage” and Paul Baumer in the 1979 TV movie “All Quiet on the Western Front.” In further TV movies, he played the title role in the biopic “Living Proof: The Hank Williams, Jr. Story” (1983), Will Mossup in “Hobson’s Choice” (1983), Henry Durrie in “The Master of Ballantrae” (1984), Martin Campbell in “Final Jeopardy” (1985) and William Denbrough in Stephen King’s “It” (1990).
In 1980, Thomas made his first Broadway appearance in more than twelve years when he stepped in as a replacement in Lanford Wilson's "Fifth of July." In 1993, he played the title role in a stage production of “Richard II.”
Thomas has appeared in a quartet of performances at Hartford Stage in Connecticut, including “Hamlet” (1987), “Peer Gynt” (1989), “Richard II” (1994) and “Tiny Alice” (1996).
In 1997 and 1998 he appeared on “Touched by an Angel.”
In 2006, Thomas began a national tour of Reginald Rose's acclaimed 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 Richard 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.
Thomas has been married twice. He married Alma Gonzales on February 14, 1975. The couple divorced in 1993. Thomas later married Georgiana Bischoff on November 20, 1994.
He and Gonzales had one son, Richard Francisco, born in 1976, and triplet daughters Barbara Ayala, Gweneth Gonzales and Pilar Alma, born August 26, 1981. Thomas and Georgiana have one son, Montana James Thomas, born July 28, 1996. At the time she married Thomas, Bischoff had two daughters from previous marriages, Brooke Murphy and Kendra Kneifel.
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