Jay Thomas

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For the football coach, see Jay Thomas (American football).
Jay Thomas
Jay Thomas at 44th Primetime Emmy Awards cropped.jpg
Thomas at the 1992 Emmy Awards
Born Jon Thomas Terrell
(1948-07-12) July 12, 1948 (age 67)
Kermit, Texas, United States
Occupation Actor, radio talk show host
Years active 1980–present

Jay Thomas (born July 12, 1948 as Jon Thomas Terrell[1]) is an American actor, comedian, and radio talk show host. His notable television roles include a co-starring role on the second season of Mork and Mindy, Eddie LeBec in Cheers, Jack Stein in Love & War, and Jerry Gold in 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 novel of the same name. In film, he co-starred in Mr Holland's Opus 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 self-titled character in The Lone Ranger.[2] Since 2005, he has hosted The Jay Thomas Show on Sirius Satellite Radio.

Personal life[edit]

Thomas was born Jon Thomas Terrell in Kermit, Texas to Katharine (née Guzzino) and T. Harry Terrell.[3] He was raised in his Italian American mother's Catholic religion; his father was Protestant.[4] Thomas was raised in New Orleans.[5]

He attended and graduated from Jesuit High School in New Orleans.[6]

Thomas fathered J.T. in an out-of-wedlock relationship and the child was adopted by another family in Michigan. Jay Thomas and his son, known as John Harding, are reunited and have spoken about their reunion on the Dr. Phil Show. John Harding is the lead singer of the band JTX.[7]

The Late Show tradition[edit]

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 meatball. As the two tried to knock off the meatball and failed repeatedly, Thomas came out and decided to join in the festivities and knocked the meatball off of the tree.[citation needed]

When Letterman talked with Thomas later on, he decided to tell a story about when he was a young disc jockey at a radio station in Charlotte, North Carolina. Thomas had been making a promotional appearance at a local car dealership. This dealership had also booked Clayton Moore to make an appearance, dressed in his Lone Ranger costume.[8]

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 high heeled shoes, tight pants, and a tiedyed 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 his hotel never arrived. Thomas offered Moore a ride in his old Volvo and he accepted. As they were sitting in traffic, an impatient middle-aged man driving a Buick, backed 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 hippy 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!" [9]

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 to knock the meatball off the tree by hitting tennis balls at it but failed.[8]


Year Title Role Notes
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"
1986 Legal Eagles Waiter
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 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 Furbis Episode: "High Anxiety"
1989 Freddy's Nightmares Stan Brooks Episode: "Dream Come True"
1989–1998 Murphy Brown Jerry Gold 9 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series (1990–91)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
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 Cybill Jay Episode: "Zing!"
1995 Bless This House Ted Episode: "If It Ain't Broken, Break It"
1995 Mr. Holland's Opus Bill Meister
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"
1998–1999 Hercules Ares 6 episodes
1999 Stranger in My House Ray Young
1999 Last Chance Artie
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
2001–2002 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 Dragonfly Hal
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 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 Labor Pains Garth
2010 Cold Case Lance Katrola Episode: "One Fall"
2010 Mysteries at the Museum Narrator 4 episodes
2011 Horrorween Two Headed Monster
2011 Snatched Roger Byamm
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 Underdogs Mike Mayhew
2013 Ray Donovan Marty Grossman Episode: "Road Trip"


  1. ^ "Jay Thomas - Biography". IMDB. 
  2. ^ "It's Wouldn't Be the Holidays Without Jay Thomas' Lone Ranger Story". Animalnewyork.com. Retrieved 2014-06-20. 
  3. ^ "Jay Thomas profile". Retrieved 20 September 2014. 
  4. ^ "Thomas hopes `Love' will pave road". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. 1992-09-28. Retrieved 2014-06-20. 
  5. ^ "Famous People from New Orleans". Experience New Orleans. Retrieved 2014-06-20. 
  6. ^ "The Whole "Veronica Mars" Gang Is Coming Back For A New Web Series". BuzzFeed. Retrieved September 20, 2014. 
  7. ^ 14, 2008/http://www.usmagazine.com/emmy-award-winning-actor-discovers-he-has-a-son Emmy Award-Winning Actor Discovers He Has a Son at the Wayback Machine (archived August 14, 2008)
  8. ^ a b "Jay Thomas takes one more shot at David Letterman's Christmas-tree meatball". NOLA.com. 2014-12-18. Retrieved 2015-03-08. 
  9. ^ Late Show episode airing December 19, 2014.

External links[edit]