After graduating, Thomas wrote copy for a Toronto advertising agency, and continued to do so until 1974 when two events convinced him to leave the ad world. A colleague at work told Thomas he'd make Creative Director in three years, and Thomas realized that by age 30 he'd have gone as far in advertising as he'd ever want to go. Meanwhile, Second City had opened a branch in Toronto. The opening-night cast included Joe Flaherty, Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, and John Candy. One visit convinced Thomas that was the thing for him. He quit the agency, auditioned for Second City, and was accepted.
Radner and Aykroyd were soon shanghaied from the cast by Lorne Michaels to star in a new show for NBC, Saturday Night Live. Six months after SNL's debut, the producers of Second City were emboldened to take their own show to the airwaves, and SCTV was born. New cast members joining Thomas and his cohorts for the TV show included Catherine O'Hara, Andrea Martin and Harold Ramis. Between 1976 and 1979, 52 half-hour episodes aired on Canada's Global Television Network, and were syndicated to the U.S. The no-budget production values combined with the comic brilliance of the cast made for a show that turned limited scope into high charm.
Thomas stayed with SCTV as it continued to air on CBC, and in the U.S. on NBC, through 1982. As Doug, the taller half of the infamous McKenzie brothers, Thomas co-wrote and acted on the platinum-selling Bob and Doug LP Great White North and the succeeding MGM film Strange Brew, which he co-wrote and co-directed. Meanwhile, he wrote for other projects, contributing to the Lorne Michaels-produced New Show series (1984), co-writing the screenplay for Spies Like Us (1985) with Dan Aykroyd, and penning several pilots for CBS.
In the late 1980s, Thomas directed John Travolta in The Experts (1989) and appeared in Boris and Natasha for director Charles Martin Smith. Soon after, he sold his own summer series to CBS, the offbeat Dave Thomas Show (1990).
In 1993, he landed the role of Russell Norton opposite Brett Butler on Grace Under Fire, remaining a regular cast member through 1998. Near the end of production on Grace, Thomas founded his own independent production company, Maple Palm Productions, which produced the HBO drama Ambushed. In 2002, Thomas embarked on producing and directing an improv-based comedy about medical students run amok; the film, Whitecoats, featuring Dave Foley and Dan Aykroyd, completed filming in March 2003.
Thomas' film credits include Stripes (1981), Strange Brew (1982), Follow That Bird (1985), Moving (1988), Coneheads (1993), Public Enemy #2 (1993), Kids in the Woods (1995), Who's Your Daddy, (2000), Rat Race (2001), and the upcoming Big Paw: Beethoven V (2003).
Currently, Thomas is a partner in Animax Interactive, an interactive animation company creating sponsored interactive content for such companies as Ford, Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros., Disney, and Verizon.
Dave Thomas Facts
|Birthday||May 20, 1949 (66)|
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