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Heather Thomas: 'Fall Guy' Gal And Early '80s Poster Pinup, Then And Now

Entertainment | October 25, 2020

Heather Thomas was the pinup poster girl of the 1980s who gained popularity for her role in The Fall Guy and other TV and movie appearances during the decade. However, her life was not as glamorous as her onscreen image, as she struggled through drug issues, stalkers, and some broken bones along the way. Although she disappeared in later years, she will always be remembered for her micro-celebrity status throughout the ‘80s. 

Heather Thomas Gained Popularity As Jody Banks In The Fall Guy

Thomas was born in Greenwich, Connecticut, but moved to California when she enrolled at UCLA Film School in 1976 to study theater and screenwriting. Before acting, Thomas’s goal was to write and direct for films, but after graduating her career took an unexpected turn. She was cast in the new hit series The Fall Guy as Jody Banks for the show’s entirety from 1981 to 1986. Thomas starred alongside Lee Majors in this series about stunt performers who moonlighted as bounty hunters. Majors’ wife at the time, Farrah Fawcett, appeared in the pilot episode, but their impending divorce led producer Glen Larson to cast Thomas for the part instead to veer away from any awkwardness on set. 

 Thomas’s typical blonde babe appearance led her to be photographed for countless posters, often in a skimpy bikini, which were plastered all over the bedrooms of teenage boys across the country.

Cocaine Almost Ruined Thomas’s Career And Life

Cocaine was the drug of the '80s, and unfortunately Thomas became heavily addicted. She first used cocaine during her college years, but her addiction severely intensified when she began her work on The Fall Guy. The hours were long on set so she relied on cocaine to keep her up all night and work all day the next day. The pressure of looking perfect for her posters caused an obsession with her own body weight as she started combining cocaine with the diuretic Lasix. Since the Lasix made Thomas exhausted, she would unwisely combat the laziness with cocaine.

After Thomas filmed the last episode of The Fall Guy, her family informed her that her father was hospitalized at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica. Thomas rushed over to what she found out was a drug intervention. Although Thomas had denied her drug issues up until that point, she finally admitted her problems and agreed to join the hospital’s drug rehabilitation program. During her three-week stay, Thomas battled pneumonia, inflamed kidneys, scarred lungs, and deep chemical balance and was injected with daily potassium and vitamin shots. After the program life was looking positive for Thomas as she no longer felt a need for the destructive drug. In 1986, she went on to marry Allan Rosenthal, co-founder of Cocaine Anonymous (a similar 12-step program to Alcoholics Anonymous), although they divorced the next year. That same year she faced another battle when a car hit her as she was jaywalking across San Vicente Boulevard and broke both of her legs.

Thomas Quit Acting Because Of Stalkers

After healing from her drug addictions and broken bones, Thomas returned to acting for a few small roles. In 1987, she played parts in the films Cyclone and Kiss Of The Cobra, and was still featured on posters all over bedrooms of America. She married entertainment attorney Harry M. Brittenham in 1992 and the couple have two daughters together.

Throughout the late ‘80s and ‘90s, Thomas was stalked dangerously by nutty fans. She once explained in an interview, “I was getting so stalked. I had one guy climb over the fence with a knife one time. I had these two little girls, and they desperately needed raising, so that was that.” Since she wanted to focus on her family and writing to escape these followers, Thomas made the decision to get out of the spotlight and quit acting in 1998.

Thomas Is Now An Activist And Writer

After giving up her acting career, Thomas pursued her passion of writing when she became involved in activism. She began writing for organizations such as Amazon Conservatory Board and The Rape Foundation and donated gobs of money to political candidates (primarily Democrats like Elizabeth Warren and Al Franken, but occasionally Republicans such as Mary Bono). In 2008, Thomas proved her witty writing abilities when she published her novel Trophies, a clever story about the made-up trophy wife Marion Zane. Thomas returned to acting briefly when she played a part in the film Girltrash: All Night Long. Other than that one appearance, Thomas tends to stay out of the limelight to spend time with her family and to continue writing.

Tags: Heather Thomas | The Fall Guy

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Emily Morenz

Author

Despite her younger age, Emily Morenz (Emo) is a serious 1960s/1970s enthusiast who is pretty much the Austin Powers of this decade. Through her all-vintage wardrobe, obsession with old time rock 'n' roll, and her mid century bedroom and 1,200+ vinyl collection you might think she just stepped out of a time machine. Emo plays the rare gems of the ‘60s and ‘70s on her radio show on OC’s 101.5 KOCI and teaches rock ‘n’ roll history on her podcast “The Rock & Roll Sweetheart.” When there's not a pandemic, she's rockin’ out with all the middle aged-men at every single classic rock concert happening around the town, and she will battle her away to front row and dance hard. Paul McCartney even once brought her up on stage to dance...while she was in a walrus costume. You also might find Emo surfing waves, skateboarding through a neighborhood, groovin' '60s gogo style, and pretending like she can play bass. And she's obsessed with peanut butter and corgis.