Richard Thomas

Actor


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-and-a-half-hour interview, Richard Thomas talks about his early years and his first television roles, including parts on Hallmark Hall of Fame, From These Roots, As the World Turns, and Bonanza. He describes moving to Los Angeles and being cast as “John-Boy Walton” in the made-for-television movie The Homecoming, co-starring Patricia Neal and Edgar Bergen. He recounts The Homecoming becoming the long-running series The Waltons, with Will Geer talking on the role of “Grandpa Walton” and becoming something of a mentor to Thomas. He details his five-year stint on the show, including the “goodnight” catchphrase, “John-Boy’s” wardrobe and accent, dealing with the fame the show brought him, and winning an Emmy for his role. Thomas discusses leaving The Waltons, and subsequently being typecast as “John-Boy,” and taking on various roles to shed his established image. He speaks of appearing in several projects including Night Gallery, Roots: The Next Generations, All Quiet on the Western Front, and Go Toward the Light. He concludes by recalling his more recent roles on The Adventures of Swiss Family Robinson and The Americans, reflecting on career achievements and regrets, giving advice to aspiring actors, and saying “goodnight” to producer Adrienne Faillace. Adrienne conducted the interview on November 16, 2016 in New York, NY.

"Regrets? I never got to play Romeo, which was too bad. But it's really Juliet’s play! But no, you wish you’d done better in certain parts or wish you'd behaved better as a young person. Not too many regrets, I have to say."

Highlights
Richard Thomas on The Waltons "goodnight" catch phrase
02:16
Richard Thomas on playing "Frank Gaad" on The Americans
10:38
Richard Thomas on appearing on the Hallmark Hall of Fame production of "The Christmas Tree" at age 6, and on learning from Margaret Hamilton and Jessica Tandy on that show
07:10
Richard Thomas on his character, "John-Boy Walton," on The Waltons
08:32
Richard Thomas on appearing on From These Roots co-starring Charlotte Rae, and on appearing on As the World Turns
01:36
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On is early life and influences; on television he watched as a child
On appearing on the Hallmark Hall of Fame production of "The Christmas Tree" at age 6, and on learning from Margaret Hamilton and Jessica Tandy on that show; on appearing on From These Roots co-starring Charlotte Rae, and on appearing on As the World Turns; on getting his education while acting
On the differences between New York television and Los Angeles television in the '60s; on appearing on Bonanza and in various features; on originating the role of "John-Boy Walton" in the made-for-television movie The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, and on working with Patricia Neal and Edgar Bergen
On moving to Los Angeles to star in The Waltons, and on the show getting on the air due to William S. Paley; on working with The Waltons creator Earl Hamner, Jr.; on the character of "John-Boy Walton"

Chapter 2

On his character, "John-Boy Walton," on The Waltons; on his input into the character of "John-Boy Walton" and on looking up to the elders in the cast; on working with Will Geer and Ellen Corby as "Grandma and Grandpa Walton" on the show, and on Will Geer having been a victim of the Hollywood Blacklist
On working with the actors who played his siblings on The Waltons, and on the cast working as an ensemble; on the series 1, 2, 3 Go, and on the child actors' work schedule on The Waltons; on the guest stars on the show
On pranks of the set of The Waltons, and on the "goodnight" catch phrase; on directing episodes of The Waltons; on doing publicity for the show
On the popularity of The Waltons; on "John-Boy's" wardrobe and accent on The Waltons; on dealing with the fame that came from the show and on living up to the image of "John-Boy Walton"
On favorite episodes of The Waltons; on the reunions and on winning an Emmy; on leaving The Waltons and being typecast; on the legacy of the show

Chapter 3

On appearing on Night Gallery with Geraldine Page; on appearing in Roots: The Next Generations; on appearing in All Quiet on the Western Front, directed by Delbert Mann and other made-for-television movies
On what he likes in a director; on starring in Go Toward the Light, and various other made-for-television movies; on starring in It
On starring on The Adventures of Swiss Family Robinson; on playing "Frank Gaad" on The Americans; on what he enjoys about acting
On mentors in his career including Will Geer, Geraldine Page, Michael Learned, and Ralph Waite; on career achievements and regrets, advice to aspiring actors, and how he'd like to be remembered
Shows

1, 2, 3 Go

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Richard Thomas on the series 1, 2, 3 Go, and on the child actors' work schedule on The Waltons
04:06

Adventures of Swiss Family Robinson, The

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Richard Thomas on starring on The Adventures of Swiss Family Robinson
02:46

All Quiet On The Western Front

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Richard Thomas on appearing in All Quiet on the Western Front, directed by Delbert Mann and other made-for-television movies
07:28

American Playhouse

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Richard Thomas on starring in the American Playhouse production of "Andre's Mother"
03:54

Americans, The

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Richard Thomas on playing "Frank Gaad" on The Americans
10:38

Bonanza

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Richard Thomas on appearing on Bonanza
02:05

DuPont Show of the Month, The

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Richard Thomas on appearing on The DuPoint Show of the Month production of "Oliver Twist", and Give Us Barabbas! with James Daly
03:13

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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Richard Thomas on winning an Emmy for playing "John-Boy" on The Waltons
01:52

From These Roots

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Richard Thomas on appearing on From These Roots co-starring Charlotte Rae, and on appearing on As the World Turns
01:36

Go Toward the Light

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Richard Thomas on starring in Go Toward the Light
02:41

Hallmark Hall of Fame

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Richard Thomas on appearing on the Hallmark Hall of Fame production of "The Christmas Tree" at age 6, and on learning from Margaret Hamilton and Jessica Tandy on that show
07:10

Homecoming, The: A Christmas Story

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Richard Thomas on originating the role of "John-Boy Walton" in the made-for-television movie The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, and on working with Patricia Neal and Edgar Bergen
05:02

It

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Richard Thomas on starring in It
05:54

Living Proof: The Hank Williams, Jr. Story

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Richard Thomas on starring in Living Proof: The Hank Williams, Jr. Story
02:27

Night Gallery

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Richard Thomas on appearing on Night Gallery
04:55

Roots: The Next Generations

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Richard Thomas on appearing in Roots: The Next Generations
02:55

Waltons, The

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Richard Thomas on The Waltons becoming a series
07:09
Richard Thomas on moving to Los Angeles to star in The Waltons, and on the show getting on the air due to William S. Paley
03:57
Richard Thomas on working with The Waltons creator Earl Hamner, Jr. and on the character of "John-Boy Walton"
08:07
Richard Thomas on his character, "John-Boy Walton," on The Waltons
08:32
Richard Thomas on his input into the character of "John-Boy Walton" on The Waltons, and on looking up to the elders in the cast
04:35
Richard Thomas on working with Will Geer and Ellen Corby as "Grandma and Grandpa Walton" on The Waltons, and on Will Geer having been a victim of the Hollywood Blacklist
08:29
Richard Thomas on working with the actors who played his siblings on The Waltons, and on the cast working as an ensemble
04:10
Richard Thomas on the series 1, 2, 3 Go, and on the child actors' work schedule on The Waltons
04:06
Richard Thomas on the guest stars of The Waltons
02:33
Richard Thomas on the dinner scenes on The Waltons
03:01
Richard Thomas on pranks of the set of The Waltons
03:01
Richard Thomas on The Waltons "goodnight" catch phrase
02:16
Richard Thomas on directing episodes of The Waltons
03:23
Richard Thomas on doing publicity for The Waltons
01:45
Richard Thomas on the popularity of The Waltons
02:47
Richard Thomas on "John-Boy's" wardrobe and accent on The Waltons
03:53
Richard Thomas on dealing with the fame that The Waltons brought him
03:53
Richard Thomas on living up to the image of "John-Boy Walton"
04:21
Richard Thomas on favorite episodes of The Waltons and on the reunions
03:44
Richard Thomas on winning an Emmy for playing "John-Boy" on The Waltons
01:52
Richard Thomas on leaving The Waltons
04:59
Richard Thomas on the legacy of The Waltons, and on being typecast as "John-Boy"
07:39
Richard Thomas says "goodnight" to interviewer Adrienne Faillace
00:18
Topics

Advice

View Topic
Richard Thomas on advice to an aspiring actor
01:35

Characters & Catchphrases

View Topic
Richard Thomas on working with The Waltons creator Earl Hamner, Jr., and on the character of "John-Boy Walton"
08:07
Richard Thomas on The Waltons "Goodnight" catch phrase
02:16
Richard Thomas on his character, "John-Boy Walton," on The Waltons
08:36
Richard Thomas says "goodnight" to interviewer Adrienne Faillace
00:18

Creative Influences and Inspiration

View Topic
Richard Thomas on appearing on the Hallmark Hall of Fame production of "The Christmas Tree" at age 6, and on learning from Margaret Hamilton and Jessica Tandy on that show
07:10
Richard Thomas on mentors in his career including Will Geer, Geraldine Page, Michael Learned, and Ralph Waite
02:35

Emmy Awards

View Topic
Richard Thomas on winning an Emmy for playing "John-Boy" on The Waltons
01:52

Hollywood Blacklist

View Topic
Richard Thomas on working with Will Geer and Ellen Corby as "Grandma and Grandpa Walton" on The Waltons, and on Will Geer having been a victim of the Hollywood Blacklist
08:29

Industry Crossroads

View Topic
Richard Thomas on working with Will Geer and Ellen Corby as "Grandma and Grandpa Walton" on The Waltons, and on Will Geer having been a victim of the Hollywood Blacklist
08:29

Pivotal Career Moments

View Topic
Richard Thomas on appearing on the Hallmark Hall of Fame production of "The Christmas Tree" at age 6, and on learning from Margaret Hamilton and Jessica Tandy on that show
07:10
Richard Thomas on mentors in his career including Will Geer, Geraldine Page, Michael Learned, and Ralph Waite
02:35

Pop Culture

View Topic
Richard Thomas on working with The Waltons creator Earl Hamner, Jr., and on the character of "John-Boy Walton"
08:07
Richard Thomas on The Waltons "goodnight" catch phrase
02:16
Richard Thomas on his character, "John-Boy Walton," on The Waltons
08:36
Richard Thomas says "goodnight" to interviewer Adrienne Faillace
00:18

Television Industry

View Topic
Richard Thomas on the differences between New York television and Los Angeles television in the '60s
02:18
Richard Thomas on working with Will Geer and Ellen Corby as "Grandma and Grandpa Walton" on The Waltons, and on Will Geer having been a victim of the Hollywood Blacklist
08:29
Richard Thomas on advice to an aspiring actor
01:35
Professions

Actor

View Profession
Richard Thomas on what he likes in a director
03:07
Richard Thomas on what he enjoys about acting
05:38
Richard Thomas on advice to an aspiring actor
01:35

Performers

View Profession
Richard Thomas on what he likes in a director
03:07
Richard Thomas on what he enjoys about acting
05:38
Richard Thomas on advice to an aspiring actor
01:35
Genres

Classic Anthology Series

View Genre
Richard Thomas on appearing on the Hallmark Hall of Fame production of "The Christmas Tree" at age 6
07:10
Richard Thomas on appearing on The DuPoint Show of the Month production of "Oliver Twist", and Give Us Barabbas! with James Daly
03:13
Richard Thomas on appearing on Night Gallery
04:55

Daytime/Primetime Serials

View Genre
Richard Thomas on appearing on From These Roots co-starring Charlotte Rae, and on appearing on As the World Turns
01:36

Drama Series

View Genre
Richard Thomas on playing "John-Boy Walton" on The Waltons
19:15
Richard Thomas on playing "John-Boy Walton" on The Waltons
01:19:08
Richard Thomas on starring on The Adventures of Swiss Family Robinson
02:46
Richard Thomas on playing "Frank Gaad" on The Americans
10:38

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

View Genre
Richard Thomas on originating the role of "John-Boy Walton" in the made-for-television movie The Homecoming: A Christmas Story
05:02
Richard Thomas on appearing in Roots: The Next Generations
02:55
Richard Thomas on appearing in All Quiet on the Western Front, directed by Delbert Mann and other made-for-television movies and miniseries
25:35

Western Series

View Genre
Richard Thomas on appearing on Bonanza
02:05
People

Edgar Bergen

View Person Page
Richard Thomas on originating the role of "John-Boy Walton" in the made-for-television movie The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, and on working with Patricia Neal and Edgar Bergen
05:02

Ellen Corby

View Person Page
Richard Thomas on working with Will Geer and Ellen Corby as "Grandma and Grandpa Walton" on The Waltons, and on Will Geer having been a victim of the Hollywood Blacklist
08:29

Henry Fonda

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Richard Thomas on appearing in Roots: The Next Generations with Olivia De Havilland and Henry Fonda
02:55

Will Geer

View Person Page
Richard Thomas on working with Will Geer and Ellen Corby as "Grandma and Grandpa Walton" on The Waltons, and on Will Geer having been a victim of the Hollywood Blacklist
08:29
Richard Thomas on mentors in his career including Will Geer, Geraldine Page, Michael Learned, and Ralph Waite
02:35

Margaret Hamilton

View Person Page
Richard Thomas on appearing on the Hallmark Hall of Fame production of "The Christmas Tree" at age 6, and on learning from Margaret Hamilton and Jessica Tandy on that show
07:10

Earl Hamner, Jr.

View Interview Page
Richard Thomas on working with The Waltons creator Earl Hamner, Jr., and on the character of "John-Boy Walton"
08:07

Olivia de Havilland

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Richard Thomas on appearing in Roots: The Next Generations with Olivia de Havilland and Henry Fonda
02:55

Michael Learned

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Richard Thomas on mentors in his career including Will Geer, Geraldine Page, Michael Learned, and Ralph Waite
02:35

Delbert Mann

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Richard Thomas on appearing in All Quiet on the Western Front, directed by Delbert Mann and other made-for-television movies
07:38

Patricia Neal

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Richard Thomas on originating the role of "John-Boy Walton" in the made-for-television movie The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, and on working with Patricia Neal and Edgar Bergen
05:02

Geraldine Page

View Person Page
Richard Thomas on appearing on Night Gallery with Geraldine Page
04:55
Richard Thomas on mentors in his career including Will Geer, Geraldine Page, Michael Learned, and Ralph Waite
02:35

William S. Paley

View Person Page
Richard Thomas on moving to Los Angeles to star in The Waltons, and on the show getting on the air due to William S. Paley
03:57

Charlotte Rae

View Interview Page
Richard Thomas on appearing on From These Roots co-starring Charlotte Rae, and on appearing on As the World Turns
01:36

Jessica Tandy

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Richard Thomas on appearing on the Hallmark Hall of Fame production of "The Christmas Tree" at age 6, and on learning from Margaret Hamilton and Jessica Tandy on that show
07:10

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