‘The Waltons’: John-Boy Actor Richard Thomas Explained How He Dealt with Child Fame

by Joe Rutland

For Richard Thomas, getting used to being famous on “The Waltons” took some time. Yet he learned how to deal with it in his life.

Thomas, who played John-Boy Walton on CBS’s “The Waltons,” had been an actor since he was 8 years old before taking that role. He opened up about childhood acting and fame during an interview with Fox News.

“[I think] you’re lucky enough to have success in the business at any age,” Thomas said. “But I think particularly as a young person, there are challenges that come with it.”

Home Life Helped Thomas On ‘The Waltons’

Thomas also defied adults to do well when they are suddenly hit with fame and notoriety. 

“For children, it’s really complicated,” he said. “It depends on how stable your home life is. So for me, (‘The Waltons’) was a job. It was what I did. It was my work.

“I was pretty disciplined, but I just took it in stride,” Thomas said. “And I had a good stable home life with parents who were also performers so they helped me through it.”

Richard Thomas played the wanna-be author John-Boy for five seasons before leaving the CBS hit show. He continued to work in other television projects and Broadway shows.

His career definitely received a boost from “The Waltons” and he’s not bitter one bit about it. But Thomas also never allowed himself to become solely tied to that one role.

Richard Thomas Enjoys Seeing Show Later In Life

In fact, Richard Thomas finds joy in catching old episodes of “The Waltons” when he sees them.

For many actors, they don’t look back. Thomas finds himself as someone who can do so and have empathy for that part of his career.

“I think most actors are very self-critical actually…and I don’t know many people who enjoy looking at themselves,” Thomas said in an interview with Dove.org. “I don’t know any colleagues, friends of mine, who enjoy watching themselves.”

He said it’s “a very unnatural thing to do, it makes you very self-conscious.”

“The more work you do, the more objective you can be as you look at things,” Thomas said.