Jay Thomas Dies; Veteran Sitcom Star Was 69
Jay Thomas, a long-time actor best known for roles in such timeless sitcoms as Cheers and Murphy Brown, died this week after a battle with cancer.
He was 69 years old.
The winner of two Primetime Emmy Awards, Thomas also starred on Ray Donovan for three years and most recently appeared on an episode of Bones in 2015.
His agent and friend, Don Buchwald, confirmed Thomas’ passing via a statement on Thursday to The New York Daily News.
“Jay was one of a kind, never at a loss for words and filled with so much fun and wonderfully whacky thoughts and behavior,” wrote Buchwald, who represented Thomas for 35 years.
Thomas’ wife, Sally, and his sons Sam, Max and J.T. were by the actor’s side when he passed away.
Thomas portrayed Jerry Gold on Murphy Brown from 1989-1998 and also took on the character of Rhea Perlman’s TV husband Eddie LeBec on Cheers” from 1987-1989.
Thomas went on to anchor the series Love & War from 1992-1995.
The star was also a regular on The Late Show with David Letterman, becoming a frequent guest over the years around the holidays.
Back in the day, he and the host would attempt to knock a meatball off the top of a Christmas tree by throwing footballs at it.
“It’s been fun. I’ve always wanted to be one of those guys on late-night talk shows who everybody wants to see,” he said in 2014 of these appearances, adding at the time:
“Like on Carson, when Rickles would come out. I became that guy. And I love football, so my two big dreams were totally realized.”
Thomas also hosted a popular radio show on SiriusXM.
On the big screen, the actor’s feature film appearances included roles in Mr. Holland’s Opus, Dragonfly, The Santa Clause 2 and The Santa Clause 3.
A native of Kermit, Texas, Thomas was raised in New Orleans and rose to prominence as a deejay on radio stations in New York and Los Angeles.
He got his start on TV in 1979 by playing Remo DaVinci, the co-owner of a New York deli, on Mork & Mindy.
He is survived by his aforementioned wife and two kids.
May Jay Thomas rest in peace.