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Betty Thomas

Film Director / Film Producer | * 07/27/1948 (72) | St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Betty Thomas (born Betty Lucille Nienhauser, July 27, 1948) is an American actress, director, and producer of television and motion pictures. She is known for her Emmy Award-winning role as Sergeant Lucy Bates on the television series Hill Street Blues. As of March 2018, Thomas is one of just two directors (and the only solo director) to have multiple films on the list of seventeen highest-US-grossing female-directed films. Additionally, all of her films are in the top twenty-five highest-US-grossing female-directed films. ()
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Betty Thomas was born July 27, 1947 in St. Louis, Missouri, graduating from Ohio University with a BA in fine arts. Initially sidetracked, Betty first taught school in Chicago but found herself restricted and needing more of an open forum for self-expression than a classroom. She found herself drawn inextricably to comedy. After toiling as a waitress, she became part of the Second City improvisational troupe where she made use of her towering (6' 1") imposing features in aggressive routines and sketches. True to form, she made her film debut in the sketch satire Tunnel Vision (1976) which parodied TV programming. The movie is lesser known today for its satirical bite and more for its exceptional cast of up-and-coming comedy artists at the time including Chevy Chase, Laraine Newman, John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Gerrit Graham, Howard Hesseman, and the team of Al Franken and Tom Davis. Other innocuous comedies/spoofs followed such as Chesty Anderson U.S. Navy (1976), Used Cars (1980), and Coming Attractions (1978) which, at the very least, helped to bulk up her comedy resume. She also appeared as a regular on The Fun Factory (1976), which was three parts quiz show, silly sketches, and audience participation. Ironically, Betty achieved her stardom not in comedy but in hard-hitting drama. Doing a complete about face as tough-talking Officer Lucille Bates on the hit police series Hill Street Blues (1981), she displayed both grit and vulnerability as she stood nose-to-nose alongside the rest of the male-oriented precinct. She was nominated for six Emmys in all and won the "Best Supporting Actress" trophy in 1985. Some equally compelling mini-movie roles came along with this success. In the late 1980s, Betty made an abrupt and concentrated move into TV and film directing, one of her last acting roles being that of the butch, underhanded scoutmaster (and Shelley Long's misery-inducing nemesis) in the obvious comedy film Troop Beverly Hills (1989). Betty received her bookend Emmy award while directing the cable sitcom Dream On (1990). She never lost her taste for comedy satire, however. One of her major box office successes would come with the spot-on parody The Brady Bunch Movie (1995). She has continued in this lighter vein of late, guiding the one-man promotion machine Howard Stern to a surprisingly entertaining critical hit with Private Parts (1997), which was based on his memoirs, the Jennifer Love Hewitt film Can't Hardly Wait (1998), I Spy (2002), an updated remake of the 1960s TV series, and Surviving Christmas (2004).

Most frequent genres for this person: Comedies | Drama | Crime

Known for these Movies & Shows


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Movies with Betty Thomas as Actress(12)

as Velda Plendor1989 Troop Beverly Hills
as Reddog's Secretary1982 Homework
as Bunny1980 Used Cars
as Biker Chic #11980 Loose Shoes
as Katherine1978 Outside Chance
as Bridgit Bert Richards1976 Tunnel Vision
as Herself - Sleeping Girl1976 A Labor of Love
as Waitress1976 Jackson County Jail

TV Shows/Series with Betty Thomas as Actress(2)

as Lucille Bates1981 Hill Street Blues

Movies with Betty Thomas as Crew(14)

Directing/Director2019 Del
Directing/Director2006 John Tucker Must Die
Production/Executive Producer2005 Guess Who
Directing/Director2002 I Spy
Production/Producer2002 I Spy
Production/Executive Producer2000 Charlie's Angels
Directing/Director2000 28 Days
Directing/Director1998 Doctor Dolittle
Directing/Director1997 Private Parts
Directing/Director1996 The Late Shift
Directing/Director1995 The Brady Bunch Movie
Directing/Director1994 My Breast
Directing/Director1992 Only You

TV Shows/Series with Betty Thomas as Crew(12)

Directing/Director2006 The Loop
Directing/Director1993 Moon Over Miami
Directing/Director1992 Arresting Behavior
Directing/Director1992 On the Air
Directing/Director1990 Shannon's Deal
Directing/Director1990 Dream On
Directing/Director1990 Parenthood
Directing/Director1989 A Peaceable Kingdom
Directing/Director1989 Doogie Howser, M.D.
Directing/Director1989 Mancuso, F.B.I.
Directing/Director1988 Midnight Caller
Directing/Director1987 Hooperman

Full Name: Betty Thomas
Born: Tuesday, 07/27 1948 (July) in St. Louis (current age: 72 years + 57 days)
Zodiac sign: Leo (Chinese zodiac sign: Rat)
Educated at: Ohio University
Betty Thomas frequently works together with these people:
Andy Samberg (29x, Actor)
Bill Hader (22x, Actor)
Maya Rudolph (11x, Actress)
Peter Teschner (7x, Crew)
Bobby Moynihan (6x, Actor)
Nasim Pedrad (6x, Actress)
Scarlett Johansson (5x, Actress)
Tom Hanks (5x, Actor)
Eddie Murphy (5x, Actor)
Molly Shannon (5x, Actress)
Lorne Michaels (5x, Crew)
Eric Laneuville (5x, Crew)
WatchPlayStream ID: PEOPLE:7449, Added: 03/23/2018, Last updated: 08/27/2020