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."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Richard Thomas on The Waltons "goodnight" catch phrase
Richard Thomas on playing "Frank Gaad" on The Americans
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
Richard Thomas on his character, "John-Boy Walton," on The Waltons
Richard Thomas on appearing on From These Roots co-starring Charlotte Rae, and on appearing on As the World Turns
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

Adventures of Swiss Family Robinson, The

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Richard Thomas on starring on The Adventures of Swiss Family Robinson

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

American Playhouse

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

Americans, The

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Richard Thomas on playing "Frank Gaad" on The Americans

Bonanza

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Richard Thomas on appearing on Bonanza

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

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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

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

Go Toward the Light

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Richard Thomas on starring in Go Toward the Light

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

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

It

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Richard Thomas on starring in It

Living Proof: The Hank Williams, Jr. Story

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

Night Gallery

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Richard Thomas on appearing on Night Gallery

Roots: The Next Generations

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Richard Thomas on appearing in Roots: The Next Generations

Waltons, The

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Richard Thomas on The Waltons becoming a series
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
Richard Thomas on working with The Waltons creator Earl Hamner, Jr. and on the character of "John-Boy Walton"
Richard Thomas on his character, "John-Boy Walton," on The Waltons
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
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
Richard Thomas on working with the actors who played his siblings on The Waltons, and on the cast working as an ensemble
Richard Thomas on the series 1, 2, 3 Go, and on the child actors' work schedule on The Waltons
Richard Thomas on the guest stars of The Waltons
Richard Thomas on the dinner scenes on The Waltons
Richard Thomas on pranks of the set of The Waltons
Richard Thomas on The Waltons "goodnight" catch phrase
Richard Thomas on directing episodes of The Waltons
Richard Thomas on doing publicity for The Waltons
Richard Thomas on the popularity of The Waltons
Richard Thomas on "John-Boy's" wardrobe and accent on The Waltons
Richard Thomas on dealing with the fame that The Waltons brought him
Richard Thomas on living up to the image of "John-Boy Walton"
Richard Thomas on favorite episodes of The Waltons and on the reunions
Richard Thomas on winning an Emmy for playing "John-Boy" on The Waltons
Richard Thomas on leaving The Waltons
Richard Thomas on the legacy of The Waltons, and on being typecast as "John-Boy"
Richard Thomas says "goodnight" to interviewer Adrienne Faillace
Topics

Advice

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Richard Thomas on advice to an aspiring actor

Characters & Catchphrases

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

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

Emmy Awards

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

Hollywood Blacklist

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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

Industry Crossroads

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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

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

Pop Culture

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

Television Industry

View Topic
Richard Thomas on the differences between New York television and Los Angeles television in the '60s
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
Richard Thomas on advice to an aspiring actor
Professions

Actor

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Richard Thomas on what he likes in a director
Richard Thomas on what he enjoys about acting
Richard Thomas on advice to an aspiring actor

Performers

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Richard Thomas on what he likes in a director
Richard Thomas on what he enjoys about acting
Richard Thomas on advice to an aspiring actor
Genres

Classic Anthology Series

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

Daytime/Primetime Serials

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

Drama Series

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Richard Thomas on playing "John-Boy Walton" on The Waltons
Richard Thomas on playing "John-Boy Walton" on The Waltons
Richard Thomas on starring on The Adventures of Swiss Family Robinson
Richard Thomas on playing "Frank Gaad" on The Americans

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
Richard Thomas on appearing in Roots: The Next Generations
Richard Thomas on appearing in All Quiet on the Western Front, directed by Delbert Mann and other made-for-television movies and miniseries

Western Series

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Richard Thomas on appearing on Bonanza
People

Edgar Bergen

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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

Ellen Corby

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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

Henry Fonda

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

Will Geer

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

Margaret Hamilton

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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

Earl Hamner, Jr.

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Richard Thomas on working with The Waltons creator Earl Hamner, Jr., and on the character of "John-Boy Walton"

Olivia de Havilland

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

Michael Learned

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

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

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

Geraldine Page

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Richard Thomas on appearing on Night Gallery with Geraldine Page
Richard Thomas on mentors in his career including Will Geer, Geraldine Page, Michael Learned, and Ralph Waite

William S. Paley

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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

Charlotte Rae

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

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

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