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Tony Thomas

Tony Thomas

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Profession: producer, rock band member

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Tony Thomas was born into show business royalty, the son of famed comedian and successful TV producer, Danny, and at first tried performing, forming a rock band with friends from Los Angeles' University High School. The group performed on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and on "That Girl," which starred Thomas' sister, Marlo. But by the end of the 70s, he had settled into producing and in 1970 was associate producer on "Brian's Song," the award-winning TV movie about the relationship between two football teammates that crossed racial lines. On that shoot, he became close with Paul Junger Witt, the movie's producer, and in 1972 became vice president of his father's company with Witt as president. He produced "Fay" and his father's "The Practice" TV series, as well as "Satan's Triangle" and other TV movies before joining with Witt to form Witt-Thomas Productions, and with writer (of the "Maude" abortion episode) Susan Harris to form Witt-Thomas-Harris Productions in 1976. In 1977, the latter entity scored its first hit with "SOAP," the ribald, ground-breaking ABC series lampooning serials. It ran through the 1981 season, but which time Witt-Thomas-Harris had already launched its more successful spin-off,...

Tony Thomas was born into show business royalty, the son of famed comedian and successful TV producer, Danny, and at first tried performing, forming a rock band with friends from Los Angeles' University High School. The group performed on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and on "That Girl," which starred Thomas' sister, Marlo. But by the end of the 70s, he had settled into producing and in 1970 was associate producer on "Brian's Song," the award-winning TV movie about the relationship between two football teammates that crossed racial lines. On that shoot, he became close with Paul Junger Witt, the movie's producer, and in 1972 became vice president of his father's company with Witt as president. He produced "Fay" and his father's "The Practice" TV series, as well as "Satan's Triangle" and other TV movies before joining with Witt to form Witt-Thomas Productions, and with writer (of the "Maude" abortion episode) Susan Harris to form Witt-Thomas-Harris Productions in 1976. In 1977, the latter entity scored its first hit with "SOAP," the ribald, ground-breaking ABC series lampooning serials. It ran through the 1981 season, but which time Witt-Thomas-Harris had already launched its more successful spin-off, "Benson." Throughout the 80s and into the 90s, Witt-Thomas and Witt-Thomas-Harris combined to form one of the most potent sitcom suppliers in TV. While the company had its share of flops ("Tough Cookies," "The Yaegers," ""Hail to the Chief"), its reputation was far outweighed by its successes, which included "Golden Girls" (1985-82), "It's A Living" (1980-82, revived in syndication, 1985), "Empty Nest" (1988-95), and "Blossom" (1991-95). During the early 90s, the company had seven sitcoms on the airwaves at one time, including "Herman's Head," one of Fox's first successful comedies. From 1993, "The John Larroquette Show" was a critical and ratings success for NBC. Witt-Thomas also dabbled a bit in drama series with less success. It's "Beauty & The Beast" was nominated for an Emmy in 1988, but ran sporadically on CBS from 1987-90 while it tried, unsuccessfully to find an audience to match its critical acclaim. Thomas and partner Witt (Harris was only involved in some of their sitcoms) moved into film production in 1984 with the unsuccessful "First Born," about a teen protecting his mother from her cocaine-dealing boyfriend. In 1985, Witt-Thomas-Harris pacted with Disney for a film production agreement in exchange for the syndication rights to "Golden Girls." In 1989, Witt and Thomas joined Steven Haft to produce "Dead Poet's Society," in which Robin Williams was a poetry instructor at a boarding school. One of the hits of the year, Witt and Thomas arrived as feature producers, earning a best picture Oscar nomination. Yet, subsequent efforts -- with Warner Bros. from 1992 -- have not matched the success of "Poet's Society." "Final Analysis" (1992) and "Mixed Nuts" (1994) were box office disappointments. Despite his early stab at a music career and his highly visible father and sister, Tony Thomas has been known to be publicity show, rarely giving interviews. Yet, his affable, bearded face can be seen among the "A" list at Hollywood events from time to time.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 Intimate Portrait: Marlo Thomas (2000) Interviewee
3.
 Danny Thomas: Make Room For Danny (1996) Interviewee
4.
 West That Never Was, The (1987) Narration
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Milestones close milestones

:
Began in show business as drummer in rock band formed with friends; appeared on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and "That Girl"
1971:
Associate producer, "Brian's Song"
1972:
Vice President, Danny Thomas Productions
1975:
First TV show as executive producer "Satan's Triangle"
1976:
Formed Witt-Thomas and Witt-Thomas-Harris Productions (with Paul Junger Witt and Susan Harris)
1977:
First hit series, "SOAP"
1984:
First feature film as producer "Firstborn"
:
Executive producer, "The Golden Girls"
:
First Witt-Thomas drama series, "Beauty & The Beast"
1989:
Produced (with Paul Witt and Steven Haft) "Dead Poet's Society"
:
Executive producer, "The John Larroquette Show"
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Notes

Collectively, Witt-Thomas and Witt-Thomas-Harris programs and creative talents have won more than 70 Emmy Awards.

In 1991, Entertainment Weekly Magazine ranked Tony Thomas, Paul Witt and Susan Harris collectively 65th on its Hollywood Power list.

Not to be confused with the late British-born film historian of the same name.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Danny Thomas. Comedian, actor, producer. Died in 1991.
mother:
Rose Marie Thomas. Born in 1914; died on July 12, 2000 at age 86.
sister:
Marlo Thomas. Actor, producer, activist.
sister:
Terre Thomas.
brother-in-law:
Phil Donahue. Talk show host. Married to Marlo Thomas.
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