By David Gritten
Updated August 09, 1982 12:00 PM
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Generally, young blondes appearing in their first movie don’t bite the hand that films them. Not so Heather Thomas, 24, who plays Lee Majors’ stunt-woman sidekick on ABC’s The Fall Guy and soon makes her big-screen debut with Scott Baio and Willie Aames in a high school frolic called Zapped. Heather is disgruntled about the movie. “The producers,” she opines, “are sleazeballs.”

The issue is nudity. Thomas plays a snooty cheerleader who has her blouse zapped off by Baio’s mind-over-matter powers. But she claims she took the part only after producer Jeff Apple dropped his demands that she disrobe. Then when filming started last summer, “They tried all they could to get me to change my mind,” says Thomas. “It even got to the stage where they were saying, ‘What’s the matter, you ashamed of your body or something?’ ” Finally, she says, they resorted to a nude double. There’s a disclaimer at the end of the film, “but who sticks around for the credits?” asks Thomas. Retorts producer Apple: “I’m surprised she’s taken this point of view. We were following standard operating procedure.”

Heather is also miffed that the Screen Actors Guild said it could not help. “I’m disappointed that [SAG President] Ed Asner and his women’s rights friends felt there was nothing they could do. I could sue—but who has the money to sue Avco Embassy? I guess no one really cares about women’s rights—they just like to have their pictures taken at fund raisers.” Replies SAG spokesperson Kim Fellner: “We could find no violation of her contract with the producers.”

Despite her irritation, Thomas concedes that the flap may be a tempest in a C cup. “I can’t take myself too seriously—life is too short for that,” says Heather, who claims to have no illusions about acting. “As far as I’m concerned, I’m a product. Some actors get fooled by the fact that they are pampered on set,” she says. “Well, in the same way, you don’t upset the puppy in the dog food commercial.” As for being third banana to Majors and co-star Doug Barr on The Fall Guy, “So what?” she demands. “How many actresses can say they’re on a series? Certainly, I’d be happy to do more, but it’s Lee’s show, you know.” Such a considered perspective in a voluptuous package, she believes, sometimes confuses her colleagues. “It’s amusing—a lot of men start off by being condescending to me,” says Heather. “It’s as though people resent someone who’s blond and attractive being intelligent too. I regard it as a challenge—it keeps me on my toes.”

So, no doubt, did her education-minded family. Her father is a dean in the California State University system, her mother runs the special education programs for the Beverly Hills public schools, and an older sister is picking up a Ph.D. Thomas, who grew up in Santa Monica, says she was pleased and relieved “that my parents backed me 100 percent in what I wanted to do. As a result, I’m a bold person, and a clown—and also a manipulator.”

Professional acting came almost accidently. She was studying filmmaking at UCLA when a friend insisted she audition for TV pilots. She landed in CBS’ ill-fated Co-Ed Fever (“I took one look at myself and resolved to take acting classes till I die”) and a failed B.J. and the Sear spin-off before hooking up with The Fall Guy, one of ABC’s few new shows to survive the 1982 season.

She denies reports that she has also hooked up with Majors. “People in this town have no imagination,” scoffs Thomas. “They can’t see that you can have dinner with someone a couple of times without going to bed with him.” Her steadiest date, she says, is Fall Guy assistant director George Fortmuller. Her other interests include shooting 8-mm films, working out at a gym, and tinkering with her red XK-E Jaguar and a 1973 Capri she calls her Rolls Canardly (“Rolls downhill, can ‘ardly get uphill”). And she’s content to move slowly: “That’s the problem with the world today—everyone seems to want immediate gratification. I’m willing to wait.”