Guy Thomas, Screenwriter on 'Wholly Moses!' and 'Magic of Belle Isle,' Dies at 66

Courtesy Gerri Malcolm
Guy Thomas

He sold his first script when he was 22 and worked on the ABC series 'Carter Country.'

Guy Thomas, who wrote the screenplays for the Dudley Moore-starring Wholly Moses! and the Rob Reiner-directed The Magic of Belle Isle, has died. He was 66.

Thomas died Friday of a suspected heart attack at his home in Newbury Park, California, friend and writing partner Gerri Malcolm told The Hollywood Reporter.

Born in the town of Bay Shore on Long Island, Thomas and his family moved to Georgia when he was a youngster, and he sold his first screenplay, Jungle Boy, when he was 22.

Columbia Pictures head David Begelman placed Thomas on the writing staff of the ABC series Carter Country as an incentive to get him to move to Los Angeles, and he penned a 1977 episode of the Georgia-set show, which starred Victor French and Kene Holliday.

Thomas' next screenplay, The Book of Herschel, was purchased by Columbia and produced by Freddie Fields as Wholly Moses! (1980), a comic fantasy film featuring Moore, James Coco, Lorraine Newman and Richard Pryor.

Magnolia Pictures' The Magic of Belle Isle (2012) starred Morgan Freeman as a struggling alcoholic writer and Virginia Madsen as his neighbor.

According to Malcolm, Thomas was working with Oscar-nominated producer David Valdes (The Green Mile) on an alt-history science-fiction Western series titled Billy Stars at the time of his death.

"Guy's extraordinary talent as a screenwriter capable of creating unique worlds, characters and dialogue is only overshadowed by his passion for life, his infectious humor, his deep spiritual awareness and his love and devotion to family and friends," Valdes said in a statement. "We all loved him deeply — his memory will always be present."

"I lost a great friend," added producer Jack Rapke (Cast Away, Beowulf). "He was a brilliant and talented writer like no other, and his writing played a big part in my early career as an agent."

Survivors include his sister, Barbara, nephew Michael and niece Dawn.