Date of Birth: July 27, 1948Birth Name: Betty Thomas Nienhauser
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Betty Thomas graduated from Ohio University with a fine arts degree. She went on to teach art in high school and took on an extra job as a waitress at the Second City Improv Club in Chicago to earn money for a trip to Europe. She was inspired to take an improv class, and eventually quit her teaching job after being invited to join the company. Three years later, she made the move to Los Angeles when Second City opened a new club there.
The move proved to be a good one, as she quickly landed a role in the comedy flick Tunnel Vision(1976), as well as roles in two dramatic films: The Last Affair (1976) and Jackson County Jail (1976). She worked steadily from then on, in both films and on television, including a regular role on the series Outside Chance (1978), based on her earlier film, Jackson Country Jail. But it wasn't until she landed the role of Sergeant Lucy Bates on the hit series Hill Street Blues in 1981 that she became a household name. Her work on the show earned her an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in 1985.
In 1987 she made the leap from acting to directing with the television series, Hooperman, starring John Ritter. She directed episodes of three more series-Midnight Caller, Mancuso, FBI and Dream On, winning another Emmy, this time for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Directing in a Comedy Series for Dream On, before making her feature directorial debut with Only You (1992).
Other awards include a Directors Guild Award for the HBO presentation The Late Shift (1996), a docudrama that depicted the Jay Leno/David Letterman quest to become the host of The Tonight Show when Johnny Carson stepped down.
Meanwhile, Thomas had discovered that she enjoyed directing more than acting, and she made her last acting appearance in the comedy Troop Beverly Hills (1989). Since then, she has concentrated on directing and/or producing features. Some of her hits as a director include The Brady Bunch Movie (1995), Dr. Dolittle(1998) and 28 Days (2000). She also produced Charlie's Angels (2000), and both produced and directed I Spy (2002), starring Owen Wilson and Eddie Murphy.
Filmography (Director):Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (2009)