Thomas at the 1992 Emmy Awards
Jon Thomas Terrell|
July 12, 1948
Kermit, Texas, United States
August 24, 2017 (aged 69)|
Santa Barbara, California, United States
|Cause of death||Throat cancer|
|Occupation||Actor, radio talk show host|
Sally Michelson (m. 1987)
|Children||3, including J. T. Harding|
Jay Thomas (born Jon Thomas Terrell; July 12, 1948 – August 24, 2017) was an American actor, comedian, and radio personality. He was heard in New York from 1976-79 on Top 40 station 99X, and later on Rhythmic CHR station WKTU, and in Los Angeles beginning in 1986 on KPWR "Power 106", where he hosted the station's top-rated morning show until 1993. His notable television work included his co-starring role as Remo DaVinci on Mork & Mindy (1979–81), the recurring role of Eddie LeBec, a Boston Bruins goalie on the downside of his career, on Cheers (1987–89), the lead character of newspaper columnist Jack Stein on Love & War (1992–95), and a repeat guest role as Jerry Gold, a talk show host who becomes both an antagonist and love interest of the title character on Murphy Brown. He won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series in 1990 and 1991 for portraying Gold.
In 1997, he starred in the television film Killing Mr. Griffin, based on the eponymous novel. In film, he co-starred in Mr. Holland's Opus as a high school coach with a flair for theatricals, and portrayed the Easter Bunny in The Santa Clause 2 and The Santa Clause 3. He was also an annual guest on The Late Show with David Letterman during the Christmas season, where he told a story about how he met Clayton Moore, who portrayed the title character on The Lone Ranger. Beginning in 2005, he hosted The Jay Thomas Show on SiriusXM Satellite Radio, which aired every Friday afternoon on Howard 101.
Early life and education
Thomas was born in Kermit, Texas, to Katharine (née Guzzino) and Timothy Harry Terrell. He was raised in his Italian American mother's Catholic religion; his father was Protestant. Thomas was raised in New Orleans, where he attended and graduated from Jesuit High School.
Thomas made his annual Christmastime appearance with David Letterman for the first time in December 1998. Letterman and one of his other guests that evening, then-New York Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde, took turns tossing footballs at the Christmas tree across the stage, atop which sat a large meatball. As the two tried to knock off the meatball and failed repeatedly, Thomas came back out to join in the festivities, and knocked the meatball off of the tree. (Thomas had played quarterback on his college football team.)
When Letterman talked with Thomas later in the show, Thomas told a story about when he was a young disc jockey at WAYS 610AM in Charlotte, North Carolina. Thomas had been making a promotional appearance at a local Dodge dealership which had also booked Clayton Moore to make an appearance, dressed in his Lone Ranger costume.
As the story goes, after the appearance Thomas, who at the time sported what he referred to as a "white man's Afro", and his friend, who was wearing platform shoes, tight pants, and a tie-dyed shirt, went off to get "herbed up" (smoke marijuana) behind a dumpster, after the broadcast ended. When they returned to pack up their equipment, they discovered that Moore was still there, as the car that was supposed to drive him to the Red Carpet Inn on Morehead Street (some years he would say the Red Roof Inn) never arrived. Thomas offered Moore a ride in his old Volvo, and Moore accepted. As they were sitting in traffic, with Moore sitting silently in the back seat, an impatient middle-aged man backed his Buick into the front end of Thomas' car, broke a headlight, and drove away.
Thomas gave chase to the Buick through heavy traffic, finally caught up to the man, and confronted him about the damage. The indignant driver denied breaking the headlight, and Thomas threatened to call the police. The man said nobody would believe their story because Thomas and his friend looked like "two hippie freaks". At that moment, Thomas said that Moore, who was still in costume as the Lone Ranger, got out of the car and said to the man, "They'll believe me, citizen!" The shocked perpetrator then began to cooperate.
For every year thereafter, with the exception of 2013, Thomas appeared to re-tell the Lone Ranger story and once again attempt what Letterman calls the "Late Show Quarterback Challenge". For the final appearance of the story in 2014, Thomas was again successful in knocking the meatball off the top of the tree. Thomas missed the 2013 Late Show Christmas episode due to surgery on his throat; John McEnroe took his place and told the Lone Ranger story, then tried, unsuccessfully, to knock the meatball off the tree by hitting tennis balls at it.
Personal life and death
Thomas fathered J. T. Harding in an out-of-wedlock relationship, and the child was adopted by another family in Michigan. Thomas and his son spoke about their reunion on the Dr. Phil Show. Harding was the lead singer of the band JTX and is a country music songwriter. Thomas married Sally Michelson in 1987. They had two sons, Samuel and Jacob.
|1979-1981||Mork & Mindy||Remo DaVinci||20 episodes|
|1981||The Love Boat||Paul Harris||Episode: "First Voyage, Last Voyage"|
|1984||Master of the Game||Levy||Television miniseries|
|1984||C.H.U.D.||Cop in diner|
|1985||Spenser: For Hire||Tony Broz||Episode: "Discord in a Minor"|
|1985||The Gig||Rick Valentine|
|1987||Family Ties||Jerry DiNello||Episode: "Super Mom"|
|1987||A Year in the Life||Scott Spenser||Episode: "What Do People Do All Day?"|
|1987-1989||Cheers||Eddie LeBec||9 episodes |
|1988||The Adventures of Ragtime||Lester Waylin|
|1988||Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color||Delivery Man||Episode: "Justin Case"|
|1989||Almost Grown||Unknown||Episode: "Take It Slow"|
|1989||The Golden Girls||Sy Ferber||Episode: "High Anxiety"|
|1989||Freddy's Nightmares||Stan Brooks||Episode: "Dream Come True"|
|1989-1998||Murphy Brown||Jerry Gold||9 episodes|
Two Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series (1990–91)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series(1989) 
|1990||Miracle Landing||Ed Meyer||Television movie|
|1990||Open House||Evan Gimbel||2 episodes|
|1990||Where's Rodney?||Lou Barnes||Television movie|
|1990-1991||Married People||Russell Meyers||18 episodes|
|1992||Straight Talk||Zim Zimmerman|
|1992||Batman: The Animated Series||Guard 1||Episode: "The Forgotten"|
|1992-1995||Love & War||Jack Stein||67 episodes |
|1995||Bless This House||Ted||Episode: "If It Ain't Broken, Break It"|
|1995||Mr. Holland's Opus||Coach Bill Meister|||
|1996||A Strange Affair||Eric McKeever|
|1996||Dirty Laundry||Joey Greene|
|1996-1997||Ink||Jack Stein||3 episodes|
|1997||Killing Mr. Griffin||John Griffin||Television movie|
|1997||A Smile Like Yours||Steve Harris|
|1997||Aaahh!!! Real Monsters||Disembodied Voice||Episode: "Spy vs. Monster"|
|1997||Working||Mr. Peyser||Episode: "Lost Weekend"|
|1998||My Date with the President's Daughter||Charles Fletcher||Television movie|
|1998||The Simple Life||Joel Campbell||Episode: "Sara's Ex"|
|1998||The Adventures of Ragtime||Lester Waylin|
|1999||Stranger in My House||Ray Young|
|1999||Fantasy Island||Carl Harbin||Episode: "The Real Thing"|
|1999||Dead Man's Gun||Emil Kosar||Episode: "The Good Chef"|
|1999||The Wild Thornberrys||Bull Seal||Episode: "Tamper Proof Seal"|
|1999||The Big Tease||Tony Bolero||Uncredited|
|2000||An American Daughter||Timber Tucker||Television movie|
|2001||Surfacing: AKA A Letter from My Father||Tom|
|2001-2002||The Education of Max Bickford||Jerry Zibowski||2 episodes|
|2002||Ed||Gary Siringo||Episode: "Small Town Guys"|
|2002||Monday Night Mayhem||Pete Rozelle||Television movie|
|2002||Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Joe Sherman||Episode: "Vulnerable"|
|2002||The Santa Clause 2||Easter Bunny|||
|2003||Run of the House||Bob Melman||Episode: "Twas the Night Before Homecoming"|
|2004||Teacher's Pet||Barry Anger||Voice|
|2004||Joan of Arcadia||Obnoxious Investor at Spa||Episode: "Recreation"|
|2006||The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause||Easter Bunny|||
|2007, 2010||American Dad!||Brett Morris||2 episodes|
|2008||Boston Legal||Ian Hoberman||Episode: "Happy Trails"|
|2009||The Pool Boys||Marty|
|2010||Cold Case||Lance Katrola||Episode: "One Fall"|
|2010||Sex Tax: Based on a True Story||Charles Taylor|
|2010||Mysteries at the Museum||Narrator||4 episodes|
|2011||Horrorween||Two Headed Monster|
|2011||Retired at 35||Mr. Jenkins||Episode: "Workin' Man"|
|2011||Hung||Sandee's father||Episode: "The Whole Beefalo"|
|2012||Shake It Up||Dan Gold||Episode: "Copy Kat It Up"|
|2013||Life Tracker||Attorney General|
|2013||The Trials of Cate McCall||Loncraine|
|2013–2017||Ray Donovan||Marty Grossman||Episode: "Road Trip" |
|2015||NCIS: New Orleans||Marc Maslow||Episode: "Confluence"|
|2015||Bones||Lenny Jay||Episode: "The Promise in the Palace"|
- Elber, Lynn (August 24, 2017). "Jay Thomas, 'Murphy Brown' and 'Cheers' actor, radio host, dies at 69". Chicago Tribune. Associated Press. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
- "It's Wouldn't Be the Holidays Without Jay Thomas' Lone Ranger Story". Animalnewyork.com. Retrieved 2014-06-20.
- "Talk and Entertainment - Program Schedule - SiriusXM Radio". Siriusxm.com. Retrieved 2017-08-24.
- "Jay Thomas profile". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
- "Thomas hopes `Love' will pave road". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. 1992-09-28. Retrieved 2014-06-20.
- "Famous People from New Orleans". Experience New Orleans. Retrieved 2014-06-20.
- "The Whole "Veronica Mars" Gang Is Coming Back for a New Web Series". BuzzFeed. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "Jay Thomas takes one more shot at David Letterman's Christmas-tree meatball". NOLA.com. 2014-12-18. Retrieved 2015-03-08.
- Laurent Bodson (31 December 2009). "Jay Thomas on Letterman.2009.12.23 - The 'Lone Ranger' Story" – via YouTube.
- Late Show (airdate December 19, 2014).
- "Emmy Award-Winning Actor Discovers He Has a Son". US Magazine. Archived from the original on August 15, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-28.
- Genzlinger, Neil (August 24, 2017). "Jay Thomas, Actor on 'Murphy Brown' and 'Cheers,' Is Dead at 69". The New York Times. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
- "Comic actor Jay Thomas is dead at 69". New York Daily News. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
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