Thomas F. Wilson

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Thomas F. Wilson
Tom Wilson photo by Josh Alder.jpg
Wilson at Helium Comedy Club in Portland, Oregon on July 16, 2011
BornThomas Francis Wilson, Jr.
(1959-04-15) April 15, 1959 (age 55)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
Other namesTom Wilson
OccupationActor, stand-up comedian, voice actor, writer, musician, painter
Years active1983–present
Spouse(s)Caroline Thomas (m. 1985) 4 children
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Thomas F. Wilson
Tom Wilson photo by Josh Alder.jpg
Wilson at Helium Comedy Club in Portland, Oregon on July 16, 2011
BornThomas Francis Wilson, Jr.
(1959-04-15) April 15, 1959 (age 55)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
Other namesTom Wilson
OccupationActor, stand-up comedian, voice actor, writer, musician, painter
Years active1983–present
Spouse(s)Caroline Thomas (m. 1985) 4 children

Thomas Francis Wilson Jr. (born April 15, 1959) is an American actor, writer, musician, painter, voice-over artist, comedian, and podcaster. He played Biff Tannen, Griff Tannen and Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen in the Back to the Future trilogy, and Coach Ben Fredricks on NBC's Freaks and Geeks.

Early life[edit]

Wilson was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and raised in nearby Wayne, Pennsylvania. While attending Radnor High School, he was involved in dramatic arts, was president of the debate team where his partner was future New York Times columnist David Brooks, and played tuba in the high school band and was drum major of his marching band. He studied international politics at Arizona State University.

Wilson attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. While in New York, he got his first 'real' stage experience as a comedian.


In the early 1980s, Wilson moved to Los Angeles to further pursue his career. where he shared an apartment with fellow aspiring comedians Andrew Dice Clay and Yakov Smirnoff. Wilson later joked that he "taught them both about America."[1]

Wilson had a small role in an episode of NBC's Knight Rider in 1984.[citation needed]

His breakthrough role was as the villain, bully Biff Tannen, in the 1985 film Back to the Future. When Back to the Future became a trilogy, he was asked to perform in these sequels again as Biff's grandson Griff and Biff's great-grandfather Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen. His famous catchphrases include "Hello! Hello! Anybody home?", "What are you looking at, Butthead?", "Say hi to your mom for me", "Why don't you make like a tree and get out of here". In every Back to the Future film, he always ended up in a pile of manure (in reality, a pile of decayed sphagnum and other plant matters) —in each instance, Wilson's Tannen characters were always trying to kill or hurt Michael J. Fox's character Marty McFly. He reprised his role as Biff and voiced various Tannen relatives in the franchise's animated series.

Wilson played the role of a Detroit police officer in the 1988 film Action Jackson.

In 1992, he voiced gangster Tony Zucco in Batman: The Animated Series and police detective Matt Bluestone in the animated series Gargoyles. He later went to co-star in Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger, a video game with Mark Hamill. It was the third chapter in the Wing Commander series, but the first to feature live action and was extremely popular at the time. The character played by Wilson was Major Todd "Maniac" Marshall, a fellow starfighter pilot of Hamill's character. Wilson also starred in the sequels Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom (1995) and Wing Commander: Prophecy (1997) and contributed his voice to the animated series Wing Commander Academy (1996) in the same role. He also guest starred in an episode of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman in 1997.

Wilson played McKinley High School's Coach Ben Fredricks in the 1999–2000 NBC comedy-drama Freaks and Geeks. Coach Fredricks dated Bill Haverchuck's mother. Wilson was briefly reunited with his Back to the Future co-star Christopher Lloyd in the 1994 film Camp Nowhere.

Wilson also played Simon, Hilda's dream date made out of dough, in Sabrina the Teenage Witch in 1996.

In 2003, Wilson appeared on the screen in a mockumentary movie called Trial and Error: The Making of Sequestered. Wilson has often lent his voice to animated productions such as Batman: The Animated Series (1993), The New Batman Adventures (1998), Max Steel (2000), Disney's Atlantis: Milo's Return (2003), and The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (2004). As well as the animated roles, he has continued to voice characters in computer and video games. He had supporting roles in the film Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector and the TV drama Ghost Whisperer.

In 2004, Wilson played the role of Noah Curry in the Pasadena Playhouse production of the musical 110 in the Shade, also starring Marin Mazzie and Jason Danieley. In 2005, Wilson released his comedy album, Tom Wilson Is Funny!.

In 2007, Wilson appeared in the episode "Whatever It Takes" of the drama series House M.D. as Lou, the father of Dr. House's patient.

In 2008, Wilson appeared in the episode "The Baby in the Bough" of another Fox drama, Bones. He played Chip Barnett, owner of a tire recycling plant.

Wilson appeared in an episode of the ABC drama Boston Legal (Season 4, Episode 7), "Attack of the Xenophobes", as a former police officer who is charged with murder.

Wilson performed "Sleigh Ride" with Relient K on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, playing acoustic guitar. The members of Relient K are big fans of Wilson and invited him to perform on the show with them.

In March 2009, he appeared as himself, busking, in Vidiotic, a comedy pilot on the British channel BBC Three.[2]

He has hosted a podcast, Big Pop Fun, on the Nerdist Network starting in November 2011. The podcast features Tom sharing stories of his career, as well as informal chats with showbusiness friends including Samm Levine, Blake Clark, Steve Oedekerk, "Weird Al" Yankovic, and more.

He is a contributor to The Bob & Tom Show and is part of their comedy tour.

Personal life[edit]

Wilson is a painter. Many of his paintings focus on classic children's toys. In 2006, he was selected to join the California Featured Artist Series at Disneyland.[3]

Wilson is a Catholic, and released a Contemporary Christian album in 2000 called In the Name of the Father.[4]

With the rise in popularity of the Back to the Future series, many people began to ask him questions about his experiences making the films. Wilson found the repetitive nature of the questions to be so amusing and annoying that he wrote a song about them titled "Biff's Question Song" which he now features regularly in his stand-up routine.[5]



1985L.A. StreetfightersMember of Spike's Gang
1985Back to the FutureBiff Tannen
1986April Fool's DayArch Cummings
1986Let's Get HarryBob Pachowski
1987Smart AlexLieutenant Stevenson
1988Action JacksonOfficer Kornblau
1989Back to the Future Part IIBiff Tannen
Griff Tannen
1990Back to the Future Part IIIBuford "Mad Dog" Tannen
Biff Tannen
Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
1991High StrungAl Dalby
1992Boris and Natasha: The MovieAdditional VoicesVoice
1993Blood in Blood OutDet. Rollie
1994Mr. WriteBilly
1994Camp NowhereLt. Eliot Hendricks
1994Caroline at MidnightOfficer Keaton
1995Born to Be WildDet. Lou Greenburg
1997That Darn CatOfficer Melvin
1998GirlThe Ticket Seller
2003Atlantis: Milo's ReturnAshton CarnabyVoice
2004The SpongeBob SquarePants MovieVictor
Fish #3
Tough Fish #1
2006Larry the Cable Guy: Health InspectorBart Tatlock
2006ZoomDylan's Teacher
2009House BrokenFire Chief Henry Decker
2009The Informant!Mark Cheviron
2011RioTrapped Bird
Screaming Hang Gilder
2012Atlas Shrugged: Part IIRobert Collins
2013The HeatCaptain Frank Woods
2013Tom and Jerry's Giant AdventureMr. Bigley


1983Knight RiderChipEpisode: "A Knight in Shining Armor"
1984The Facts of LifeMooseEpisode: "All or Nothing"
1990Turner & HoochDet. Scott TurnerFailed pilot
1991–1992Back to the Future: The Animated SeriesBiff TannenVoice
1993The Pink PantherAdditional VoicesVoice
1993Batman: The Animated SeriesTony Zucco
John Grayson
Episode: "Robin's Reckoning: Part 1", "Robin's Reckoning: Part 2"
1995–1996GargoylesMatt BluestoneVoice
1996Superman: The Animated SeriesJoeyVoice
Episode: "A Little Piece of Home"
1996Wing Commander AcademyTodd 'Maniac' MarshallVoice
1996Sabrina, the Teenage WitchSimonEpisode: "Dream Date"
1996AndersonvilleThomas SweetTV Movie
1997Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanCarter LandryEpisode: "Lethal Weapon"
1997DuckmanPark Ranger SmithVoice
Episode: "Short, Plush and Deadly"
1997Aaahh!!! Real MonstersMartyVoice
Episode: "Clockwise/Gromble Soup", "Showdown/Internal Affairs"
Talk Show Host
TV Movie
1997Fired UpSteve Summer
1998Pinky and the BrainLarry BruhnVoice
Episode: "Dangerous Brains"
1998Men in WhiteEd KlingbottomTV Movie
1998The New Batman AdventuresHowlin' Jake
Gotham Angels Biker
Episode: "Torch Song"
1998ZoomatesMark the Polar BearVoice
TV Short
1998MaggieHankEpisode: "Just Shoot Him", "Every Little Star"
1998The Angry BeaversOttis Otto
Bowling Patron
Episode: "If You Insisters/Alley Oops!"
1999The HughleysStanEpisode: "Why Can't We Be Friends?"
1999–2000Freaks and GeeksCoach Ben Fredricks6 episodes
1999Pepper AnnCoach BronsonVoice
Episode: "Beyond Good and Evel/One of the Guys"
2000–2001Max SteelPete CostasVoice
Recurring season 1, main cast season 2.
2000Buzz Lightyear of Star CommandBusterVoice
Episode: "Root of Evil"
2001Nash BridgesJack NoonEpisode: "Bear Trap"
2001The Zeta ProjectBurly BoyfriendVoice
Episode: "West Bound"
2001–presentSpongeBob SquarePantsFlats the Flounder
Tattletale Strangler
Tony Fast Sr.
additional voices
2001TitusJoeEpisode: "Amy's Birthday"
2002–2003Do OverCoach DorseyEpisodes: "Pilot", "Joel Strikes Back", "Take Me out of the Ballgame", "Valentine's Day Dance", "Chilghetti"
2002She SpiesRoger 'Rush' GibsonEpisode: "Fondles"
2003EdSean NowellEpisodes: "Hyenas & Wildebeests", "The Case", "Good Advice", "Death, Debt & Dating", "Goodbye Stuckeyville"
2003The PittsGuardEpisode: "Ticket to Riot"
2003Boston PublicPaul StantonEpisode: "Chapter Sixty-Six"
2003StriperellaAdditional VoicesVoice
Episodes: "Beauty and the Obese: Part 1", "Beauty and the Obese: Part 2", "The Wrath of Klinko"
2003Two and a Half MenMikeEpisode: "Pilot"
2004The MulletsLyle TurnerEpisode: "Losin' It"
2004Rock Me BabyBuffalo BuckEpisode: "Go, Otis! It's Your Birthday!"
2005RodneyBillEpisode: "Sorry Charlie"
2005Zoey 101Coach PhelpsEpisode: "Disc Golf"
2005Higglytown HeroesTruck DriverVoice
Episode: "Kip's Dad Gets a Strike"
2005RebaTedEpisode: "Reba and the One"
2005George LopezSonnyEpisode: "George Drives the Batmobile"
2006Help Me Help YouKennyEpisode: "Pilot", "Sasha's Birthday BBQ", "Working Women", "Boxer"
2006Still StandingCoach Kirk StoneEpisode: "Still Flunking"
2006Cold CaseArnold BrownEpisode: "Superstar"
2006–2008Ghost WhispererTim FlahertyEpisodes: "The Woman of His Dreams", "Deja Boo", "The Walk-in", "Delia's First Ghost", "The Prophet", "Threshold"
2007American Body ShopJuicy LouEpisode: "Juicy Lou's", "Shop for Sale"
2007HouseLouEpisode: "Whatever It Takes"
2007Boston LegalJeffrey BassEpisode: "Attack of the Xenophobes"
2008The Spectacular Spider-ManStan CarterVoice
Episodes: "Interactions", "Competition", "Persona", "Shear Strength", "Growing Pains", "Probable Cause"
2008BonesChip BarnettEpisode: "The Baby in the Bough"
2008Back at the BarnyardKrebsVoice
Episode: "Brave Udders"
2008–2009Batman: The Brave and the BoldSportsmaster
Episode: "Invasion of the Secret Santas!", "Legends of the Dark Mite!"
2009PsychButchEpisode: "Let's Get Hairy"
2009Family GuyAdditional voicesVoice
Episode: "Quagmire's Baby"
2010–2011Big LoveRicky JaxEpisode: "The Mighty and Strong", "Blood Atonement", "The Oath"
2010Adventure TimeHead MarauderVoice
Episodes: "Memories of Boom Boom Mountain", "It Came from the Nightosphere"
2010True Jackson, VPBen FranklinEpisode: "Field Trip"
2011Harry's LawAllan MeadeEpisode: "Bangers in the House"
2011Billion Dollar FreshmenPrincipal PrestonTV Movie
2011Planet SheenNarrator
Blurg #1
Episodes: "Ooze on First/Monster-Fighting Combat Strike Force", "To Chill a Mocking Blurg/Now You Sheen It"
2011–2012Franklin & BashSpiritual AdvisorEpisode: "She Came Upstairs to Kill Me", "For Those About to Rock"
2011Melissa & JoeyCouncilman Herbert HancockEpisode: "Play Ball"
2012–presentDragons: Riders of BerkBucketVoice
2013Zach Stone Is Gonna Be FamousMr. Stone
Patrick Jane
Episode: "S Cape from Planet Earth/The X-Mentalist"

Video Games[edit]

1994Wing Commander III: Heart of the TigerTodd "Maniac" Marshall
1996Wing Commander IV: The Price of FreedomTodd "Maniac" Marshall
1997Wing Commander: ProphecyTodd "Maniac" Marshall
2000Star Trek: Voyager – Elite ForceCrewman Rick Biessman
2001Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of CortexRok-Ko the Earth Elemental
2002Run Like Hell: Hunt or Be HuntedCraig
2010Batman: The Brave and the Bold – The VideogameCatman
2010Spider-Man: Shattered DimensionsElectro
2011Star Wars: The Old RepublicAdditional Voices


  1. ^ What’s What With … Tom Wilson, Philadelphia magazine, December 3, 2008
  2. ^ Vidiotic at the British Comedy Guide
  3. ^ Tom Wilson Artist Corner,
  4. ^ Thomas F. Wilson – Musician,
  5. ^ [1]

External links[edit]