The Career of Michael Thomas

Philip Michael Thomas, a retired American actor and musician, was born on 26th May 1949 in Columbus, Ohio. He is well-known for his Detective Ricardo Tubbs (Rico) role in the series Miami Vice. He is of Native American, Irish, German, and African American ancestry. As well as playing a role in the show Miami Vice, two songs of Thomas ‘La Mirada’ and ‘Living the Book of My Life’ appeared in it.

His other two songs, ‘Tell it Like it Is’ and ‘Just the Way I Planned It,’ appeared on the soundtrack (The Best of Miami Vice) as well, though never appeared in the show. The first notable roles of Thomas were in ‘Sparkle’ and ‘Coonskin.’

After outstanding success in Miami Vice, Thomas appeared in advertisements for telephone-physical services and several made-for-TV movies. In the video games ‘Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories’ and ‘Grand Theft Auto: Vice City,’ he was the voice behind the character ‘Lance Vance.’ Thomas also served as a spokesperson for ‘Nextones,’ Cell Phone Entertainment Company.

Personal Life of Michael Thomas

Lulu McMorris was the mother of Thomas. Louis Digg, his father, was a plant foreman. He acted in the theater group of his Church when Thomas was a child. In 1967, Thomas graduated from the San Bernardino High School, and to save money for his college, he worked as a janitor.

Thomas doesn’t drink, smoke and is a vegetarian. He married Kassandra in 1986 and have five children with her. However, they ended up getting divorced in 1998. Moreover, from previous relationships, Thomas has six other children as well.

Early Career

1972 was the year Thomas began acting. Before landing the role on Miami Vice, he played the parts in Medical Center, Trapper John, M.D., Good Times, Wonder Woman, Police Woman, and Starsky and Hutch.

Miami Vice

In the Miami Vice show, Thomas played the role of a detective Ricardo Tubbs of the NYPD, who traveled from the Bronx to Miami to take revenger from the drug lord that killed his brother and fellow cop ‘Rafael Tubbs.’ After catching the lord, he teamed up with James ‘Sonny’ Crockett and decided to stay in Miami. His partnership with James lasted five years.

In contrast with the persona of pastel sleeveless shirts, cotton pants, blazer, and shoes without socks of Johnson Crockett, Thomas’ character wore Armani suits. During his Vice run, Thomas released an album ‘Living the Book of My Life.’ The two tracks from this music album even appeared in the show as well. Thomas was paid $25,000 per episode of seasons 1 and 2, which is equivalent to $62,000 today. He got an increase to $50,000 per episode of season 3 to 5; the amount equals to $123,000 today. However, per episode, Johnson was paid $30,000 for seasons 1 and 2 and $90,000 for seasons 3 to 5.

In 1996, the song ‘Just the Way I Planned It’ of Thomas appeared in the album ‘The Best of Miami Vice,’ but did not get much commercial success. The invention of the phrase ‘EGOT’ got Thomas a lot of credit and stands for an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards, his plan of winning all four awards. For his role as Tubbs, Thomas got nominated for a Golden Globe award.

However, during his phase, Thomas never came close to any of those four awards. But the other fifteen accomplished the ‘grand slam’ as of 2019.

Nash Bridges

Thomas reunited with Don Johnson in 1997 for two appearances in Nash Bridges, a police drama. He played the role of Cedrick ‘Rick’ Hawks, the Deputy United States Marshal from Miami, traveling to San Francisco to visit Johnson (Bridges).

In the episode ‘Wild Card,’ Thomas appeared for the first time, and in the episode ‘Out of Miami,’ his second and final appearance. It aired during the last season of the program.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

Thomas performed a voice-over as Lance Vance in this renowned video game ‘Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.’ Lance is the main character of the game who is trying to take revenge for the death of his brother, Victor Vance. In the prequel ‘Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories,’ Thomas delivered the voice-over role.

It details Launce’s arrival in Vice City, his relationship with his brother, and his business with drugs. Philip decided to retire from acting after his work on the video game (2006 GTA: Vice City Stories).

The Music Career of Michael Thomas

In 1985, under his record label, Spaceship Records, Philip Michael Thomas released a music album, titled ‘Living the Book of My Life.’ It was a flop and failed to produce a hit single. Although Thomas made the track’s video ‘Just the Way I planned it.’

During the 1985 Miami Vice episode ‘The Maze,’ Thomas performed on its title song. Another song of Thomas ‘La Mirada’ got featured in the episode ‘Trust Fund Pirates.’ Don Johnson, Miami Vice co-star of Thomas, shortly afterward recorded an album titled ‘Heartbeat.’ Thomas recorded a song in 1987 with Argentine singer LucíaGalán of Pimpinela fame, called ‘Ever and Forever.’

In 1988, Thomas released his second album, Somebody. Like the first album, the second one sold poorly and failed to produce a hit. To compose ‘My, My, My, Miam…i,’ Thomas teamed up with Kathy Rahill in 1993. Later it was chosen as the theme song of the city of Miami.

The same year, Thomas composed ‘Sacha’ for a family-friendly musical in collaboration with Sandi Morais, a Jamaican fitness instructor. The song enjoyed run in New York and South Florida. With Morais, Thomas formed the Magic Cookie Production Company. In 2001 and 2006, Thomas produced the music for fitness videos of Morais.

Psychic Reader’s Network

In 1994, Thomas signed an agreement with Florida-based Psychic Reader’s Network to become the spokesman for the Philip Michael Thomas International Psychic Network. He appeared in TV ads, and through his ‘world travels,’ Thomas claimed to have met the planet’s premier psychics.

Thomas started the opening of the ad with his Miami Vice phrase ‘From Miami Vice to world advice!’ and dressed in a similarly alter ego. To promote the psychic line, he appeared in infomercials with Sacha Nicole (his daughter), Eileen Brennan, and Todd McKee. He released cassette music ‘PMT Psychic Connection, Volume I,’ linked to his psychic business.

A New York arbitrator awarded Thomas $1.48 million in 2002; it was because of improper use of his name and likeness.

Michael Thomas’s Films

Thomas’s filming career includes the following masterpieces:

  • Book of Numbers
  • Coonskin
  • Death Drug
  • Hey good Lookin
  • Miami Shakedown
  • Poet, Soldier
  • Ricco
  • Sparkle
  • The Wizard of Speed and Time
  • Fate
  • Stigma
  • Black Fist
  • El hombre de Los hongos
  • The Dark
  • Of Stigma
  • River of Stone
  • Come Back, Charleston Blue.

Michael Thomas Voice-Overs

Thomas’ voice-overs for the games include ‘Grand Theft Auto: Vice City,’ ‘We Are Angels,’ ‘Grand Theft Auto: Vice City,’ and ‘Gangstar Rio: City of Saints.’

The Miami Vice’s Star – Michael Thomas

Thomas did not have a successful career in music. However, the TV show, Miami Vice, gave him the success that turned his career and brought him more work. Thomas did not win the awards but got nominated in the Golden Globe award. In short, Miami Vice is the highlight of his career.