Robert Joseph Thomas|
January 26, 1922
San Diego, California, U.S.
March 14, 2014 (aged 92)|
Encino, California, U.S.
|Patricia (m. 1947-2014; his death)|
Born in San Diego in 1922, he grew up in Los Angeles, where his father was a film publicist. He attended UCLA. He lived in Encino with his wife, Patricia. They had three daughters. Thomas, aged 92, died on March 14, 2014 at his home.
Thomas made his mark by engaging celebrities in activities that brought out their personalities, whether by measuring their waistlines after childbirth (as he did with Betty Grable) or testing just how tall a leading lady needed to be by kissing her himself (as he did with June Haver). Acclaimed as the dean of Hollywood reporters, Bob Thomas had been writing about the movie business for the Associated Press since the days when Hollywood was run by the men who founded it: Jack L. Warner, Darryl F. Zanuck, Harry Cohn, and Louis B. Mayer.
During his long history of reporting for the AP, Thomas authored at least 30 books. Many in the film industry credit his 1969 biography of producer Irving G. Thalberg as sparking their interest in pursuing a career behind the scenes. Other Thomas biographies include Liberace, Joan Crawford, Marlon Brando, David O. Selznick, Walter Winchell, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Howard Hughes, Abbott & Costello, Walt Disney, and a children's book, Walt Disney: Magician of the Movies.
For contributions to the motion picture industry, Thomas received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (the first author-reporter to be given this honour), which was paid for by his friends in advance and placed at 6879 Hollywood Boulevard. In 2009, in recognition of over 60 years of covering the entertainment business for the Associated Press, the Publicists Guild awarded him its Lifetime Achievement Award.