Talk about a rollercoaster of a night. Thomas let his mind drift while on the way to the awards ceremony in 1973. For a few moments, the actor day-dreamed about what winning an Emmy would be like. Thomas had been nominated for his work on “The Waltons,” and it would be his first real taste with recognition.
“Here I am, a young star in Hollywood with my first car — and it was a white Volvo station wagon,” Thomas told Television Academy. “I wasn’t exactly on the fast track. But I was driving and thought, ‘You might win this thing. You’re not going to, but you might. If you do, what the hell are you going to say?’ I had no idea.”
He probably should have been paying attention to the person in front of him. Because according to Cheatsheet, the actor rear-ended a car during his reveries.
“So, I started to think about it, and — bam — I went right into the car in front of me,” Thomas continued. “I didn’t mess up my car too bad, but bad enough. I drove home, and I’d forgotten to think of what I was going to say. Then I’m sitting in the theater, and they called my name. I went up and I was like, ‘I wrecked my car.’”
The Actor Won the Emmy
His daydream turned out to be prophetic when his name was called for the award. Thomas was just as unprepared as he feared, but he winged his acceptance speech in the moment. The actor caused the audience to laugh when he told them how he wrecked his car.
“Well, I should tell you now that on the way to change into this suit, coming downtown, it suddenly occurred to me that if I should have to come up here to say something tonight, I would have nothing to say. So I started to think of something to say, and I destroyed my car,” Thomas said. “Anyway, I’m terribly surprised and I’m terribly grateful to the Academy,” he says. “And I’d just like to thank everyone and I’d like to thank my two families, the Waltons and the Thomases. Thank you very, very much.”
Richard Thomas Couldn’t Drive Before ‘The Waltons’
Perhaps, Thomas might have avoided his accident if he had been a more experienced driver. But the actor didn’t learn to drive until he appeared on the show. Thomas had grown up in New York City and didn’t need a car to get around. One of his co-stars Judy Norton reflected on the young inexperienced driver.
“When ‘The Waltons’ first started, Richard couldn’t drive because he grew up in New York,” Norton said in a YouTube video. “So in that first season, the drivers on the set, the Teamsters, actually taught Richard to drive, and he got his license during the filming of The Waltons. Because of course, he had to be able to drive the truck and his car and various other vehicles.”
Fortunately, Thomas managed to make it home with his Emmy safely in hand.