Richard Thomas Said Divorce from Mom of His 4 Kids 'Brought Him to His Knees' — Inside His Blended Family
Richard Thomas, who won an Emmy Award for his John-Boy Walton character on CBS's "The Waltons," went through a tumultuous divorce from the mother of his four kids. Here is what happened.
Richard Thomas will forever be remembered as John-Boy Walton from CBS's hit series "The Waltons," where he remained for five seasons.
The actor was an all-rounder who could settle into any role and bring it to life. Among some of Thomas's best onscreen characters were Shakespearean Richard, II, and III. In one, he was a wise charmer, and another, a crafty sociopath.
Other features included his role as an ambivalent spy in "Democracy" and a lurid orchestra conductor in "The Stendhal Syndrome."
While he dedicated his life to making memorable films and putting smiles on the faces of his audience, the actor has dealt with some personal issues, including a failed marriage that produced four kids.
Following his divorce, Thomas confessed that it was painful to exit the marriage, adding that it "brought him to his knees."
Thankfully, his hope in love was restored when he fell for wife number two, with whom he welcomed three more kids, two from her previous marriage, and their son.
He is a doting father of seven in a happily blended family. Here are details about his past marriage and life as a family man.
RICHARD THOMAS'S BEAUTIFUL LOVE STORY WITH HIS FIRST WIFE
Thomas's first wife was Alma Gonzalez, a Californian native with Mexican roots. She worked multiple jobs; as a part-time waitress, a sales rep for an imported rug business, and a secretary to a press agent.
When Thomas met her dancing with her friends at a middle eastern club, he was still working on "The Waltons." Nevertheless, the actor noticed Alma's impressive performance, so he introduced himself to her group before joining them.
Even though it was his first time in a dance group, Thomas could not resist, as Alma's steps, demeanor, and looks were eye-catching. In his words:
"But she was a wonderful dancer and had this beautiful smile."
Although there was a three-year age gap between them, Alma was older; this did not stop them from creating their magical love story.
In 1975, on Valentine's Day, the actor tied the knot with the Californian native at his childhood Baptist Church in Manhattan. The newlyweds spent their honeymoon at New York's Plaza Hotel, and Thomas treated his bride to a tour around Central Park.
After the wedding, the actor excitedly gave hints of their plans to have kids. He said they would "want two or three kids if God let us. Of course, why else do you get married?"
RICHARD'S FAMILY LIFE AND CHILDREN WITH HIS FIRST WIFE
Immediately after his marriage ceremony, the couple became parents to Richard Francisco. However, five years later, they were expecting twin daughters. It was not a big surprise, as twins ran in both families.
Thomas was attentive to his wife's weight despite his busy schedule as an actor. He noticed that the extra pounds spread all over her body with their son, but with their daughters, "she was enormous, uncomfortable and tired." Alma corroborated her husband's claims by adding:
"The weight was spread all over my body then. This time it was all out front. I was all babies."
Shockingly, before her delivery, Alma's doctor reached a new conclusion that she carried triplets. She was three weeks early and instantly scheduled for a cesarean operation.
The expectant mom alerted her husband, who was working on a film. Thomas arrived at the hospital in no time, feeling anxious, but when his daughters, Barbara Ayala, Gwyneth Gonzales, and Pilar Alma, were born, he marveled at love from fans and well-wishers.
Following their daughters' arrival, Thomas focused on making his wife and kids comfortable. But, first, he purchased cribs and other necessary supplies.
Thankfully, his mother and mother-in-law were around to help with the babies whenever he was away to film. The triplets shared similar looks that it was nearly impossible to identify them. But with time, their mother observed their distinct personalities. According to Alma:
"Barbara, the biggest, is quiet and obviously feels more secure. Gwyneth, the smallest, is perky and eats quickly, as if she knows she has to catch up. Pilar is the hysteric, the fussy one."
Alma struggled with their feeding routines despite identifying the babies while alone with Thomas. Although her husband was an incredible helper, coping with the babies grew challenging. In her words:
"I'd wake up and tend to whoever cried first myself. Then Richard and I would take the next one, and if all three woke at once we'd run and get my mother."
The family welcomed guests who peeped to see the girls amid the beautiful chaos. Everybody marveled at the triplets, even their big brother, Richard Francisco. According to Thomas, when they brought the babies home, his son remarked:
"'I think I'm outnumbered.' I told him, 'We're both outnumbered. We're in this together.'"
Although Thomas employed some workers to help around the house, he was still very effective in parenting and caring for his girls, even if it included changing more than thirty diapers a day while his wife made their meals.
The actor, who enjoyed the serenity of his Hollywood Hills residence with his family surrounded by nature and non-professional friends, talked about being a parent and a star. According to the "The Waltons" star:
"I'm not saying that family life is necessary for everyone. Some performers are ruined by it. But this household is a wonderful thing."
The then father of four admitted that he pictured his girls as prominent entertainment performers. However, he maintained that he would support them if they chose a different path. He opined:
"They'll probably end up owning a Chevrolet franchise in Van Nuys, and none of them will ever set foot in the theater. I'll be prepared for that too."
RICHARD'S PAINFUL DIVORCE
After seventeen years of what was recorded as a power couple kind of marriage, with four adorable kids, the couple shocked the world with the news of their divorce in 1992.
Like the world, Thomas was not prepared for the separation, and Alma admitted that she was aware. While speaking about the divorce, she said:
"I guess I shocked him. But if you are really in touch with your mate, you can see things are not right. I wasn't very happy [in the marriage]. There is no [single] reason why one person's needs get met and the other person's do not."
Despite the difficulty in accepting the news, the former couple proceeded with an amicable divorce. Thomas's ex-wife also labeled the actor with a positive adjective. According to her:
"But Richard is "a good person," and the separation is "amicable, thank goodness because we have four terrific kids."
Despite the split, Thomas continued to thrive in his career. So it was not surprising when an interviewer suggested that he was never marred by any pain, including the usual issues long-term actors face.
The "Democracy" alum denied the assertion, explaining that his divorce was excruciatingly painful, but he saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Thomas stated:
"At some point life brings you to your knees, and in my case it was a painful divorce that was not, N-O, my idea. But because of it I was dragged kicking and screaming into a happier life."
RICHARD THOMAS'S SECOND MARRIAGE AND BIG BLENDED FAMILY
Although heartbroken by his unexpected divorce from Alma, the onscreen icon still believed in fairy tale love stories, so it was not difficult to open his heart to Georgiana Bischoff, an art dealer, when they met.
A year after his divorce, the actor married Bischoff, a divorcee with two daughters. They shared their vows in front of fifty guests, including their six kids, who were all present to support them.
Bischoff and her husband never imagined finding love again after ending their former marriages, but the art dealer confessed that "when the passion came."
The actor has also gushed on his second wife, maintaining that they built their relationship on trust. According to the "The Waltons" alum:
"I'm married to the most honest, straight-forward person, so you always know where you stand. There's a lot of trust between us and we have a lot of fun together."
Following their marriage, they welcomed a son together, but the parents were able to blend their kids. While speaking about how they have achieved a perfectly blended bunch.
He said: "It wasn't always easy, blending a family of six kids and then having our own son — that's a big job. It causes tension and challenges, but we've been able to weather every storm and those complicated parts of life. We're even surviving COVID together!"
In another interview, the father of seven revealed that he understands the complexities of a blended family, adding that not many would achieve similar results despite being successful at it. Thomas explained:
''Blending a family of this size is like postgraduate work for people who failed the course."
After being a father for nearly five decades, Thomas advised parents to be intentional about their offspring and ensure to let them live freely. In his words:
"Don't try to make them be like you. Leave them alone. I don't mean let them go out and play in traffic, but let them be free to grow into who they are."
Overall, Thomas is an iconic figure whose lifestyle is worthy of emulation. He has maintained a clean slate in the acting business and thrives as a father of seven despite being heartbroken before.