Michelle Thomas

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Michelle Thomas
Michelle Thomas photo.jpg
Born September 23, 1968 or 1969
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died December 22 or 23, 1998 (aged either 29 years old [1][2] or 30 years old[3])
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
New York City, New York, U.S.
Cause of death Cancer
Resting place Rosedale Cemetery, Orange, New Jersey
Nationality American
Education West Essex High School
Occupation Actress, comedian
Years active 1985–1998
Known for Justine Phillips on The Cosby Show
Myra Monkhouse on Family Matters

Michelle Thomas (September 23, 1968 or 1969 – December 22[4][5][6] or 23,[3][7] 1998) was an American actress and comedian. She was best known for her roles as Justine Phillips on the NBC sitcom The Cosby Show (1988–90), and Myra Monkhouse, Steve Urkel (Jaleel White)'s girlfriend on the ABC/CBS sitcom Family Matters (1993–98).[3]


Early life[edit]

Thomas was born in Boston, Massachusetts on September 23, either 1968 or 1969 to Dennis Thomas, a member of music group Kool & the Gang, and Phynjuar Thomas, a stage actress.[3] She grew up in Montclair, New Jersey and was an alumna of West Essex High School.[3] In September 1984, she was crowned Miss Talented Teen New Jersey in Hal Jackson's Talented Teen Competition.[8][9] The following year, she competed in the international pageant and won the title of International Queen.[10]


From 1988 to 1990, Thomas portrayed Justine Phillips, the girlfriend of Theo Huxtable on The Cosby Show. She later appeared on various television programs during the late 1980s and 1990s including A Man Called Hawk and Thea. She had a role in Dream Date in 1989.

In 1991, she had a small role in Hangin' with the Homeboys. She appeared in music videos for Boyz II Men, Mint Condition (1996 music video) What Kind Of Man Would I Be, Dru Hill (1996 music video) Never Make A Promise, and Chubb Rock . In 1993, she won the role of Myra Monkhouse in Family Matters. In 1997, she was a guest host of the weekly music series Soul Train.[3] After the series ended in 1998, Thomas portrayed Callie Rogers Stark, an aspiring singer on The Young and the Restless. In October 1998, Thomas left the series.[citation needed]

Health and death[edit]

In August 1997,[7] Thomas was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, intra-abdominal desmoplastic small-round-cell tumor.[10] She underwent surgery to remove a lemon-sized tumor shortly before landing her The Young and the Restless role in the spring of 1998. In October 1998, she underwent surgery after a second cancerous growth ruptured. After being released from the hospital, Thomas flew home to New Jersey to spend Thanksgiving with her family.[citation needed]

On December 22[11] or 23,[3] 1998, Thomas died surrounded by her family and friends in New York City at Manhattan's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center,[12] aged 29[2][11][13] or 30.[3][5][7][10][12]

On December 26, 1998, a Muslim funeral service was held, as per her request. She was buried in Montclair, New Jersey.[7]


Year Title Role Notes
1989 Dream Date Sally Palmer Television film
1991 Hangin' with the Homeboys Telemarketing Operator
1998 The Young and the Restless Callie Rogers Stark
1999 Unbowed Anna Released posthumously


Year Title Role Notes
1988-1990 The Cosby Show Justine Phillips 8 episodes
1989 A Man Called Hawk Ruthie Carver Episode: "Choice of Chance"
1993-1998 Family Matters Myra Monkhouse 55 episodes
1994 Thea Keanda 2 episodes
1996 Duckman Voice role
Episode: "Exile in Guyville"
1997 Malcolm & Eddie Brooke Bellamy Episode: "Roofless People"

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Title of work Result
1999 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama Series The Young and the Restless Nominated


  1. ^ Staff (December 26, 1998). "Michelle Thomas, actress on sitcoms, daytime drama, dies.". Miami Herald. p. 4B Local. Retrieved June 3, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b "Boston-born actress Michelle Thomas, dead at 29". Bay State Banner. February 11, 1999. Retrieved June 3, 2016. ... has died as a result of a desmoplastic small round tumor, a rare form of cancer, at age 29. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Pace, Eric (December 28, 1998). "Michelle Thomas, 30, Actress On TV Soap Opera and Sitcoms". New York Times. p. 8. Retrieved 2012-03-30. Michelle Thomas, an actress in the television programs The Cosby Show, Family Matters, and The Young and the Restless, died on Wednesday at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. She was 30 and lived in Los Angeles, though she had been staying with her family in Weehawken, N.J., since November. ... She was born in Boston, Mass., grew up in Montclair, N.J., and graduated from West Essex High School in North Caldwell, N.J. 
  4. ^ Chambers, Cheehsa. December 29, 1998, Variety, Michelle Thomas obituary; accessed June 3, 2016.
  5. ^ a b Entertainment Weekly, January 8, 1999, Monitor; accessed June 3, 2016.
  6. ^ The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 26, 1998, Michelle Thomas, Television actress, Dies".
  7. ^ a b c d "Forever Young". People magazine. January 11, 1999. Retrieved June 3, 2016. Thomas was buried in Montclair following a Muslim funeral service, as she had requested ... 
  8. ^ Ross, Pinnie (September 8, 1984). "2000 at Miss Talented Teen Pageant". Baltimore Afro-American. Retrieved July 14, 2013. 
  9. ^ Ross, Pinnie L. (August 30, 1986). "International Teen Pageant-an extravaganza". Baltimore Afro-American. Retrieved June 12, 2010. 
  10. ^ a b c Michelle Thomas, 'Family Matters' TV Star, Dies of Cancer At 30. Jet magazine. January 18, 1999. Retrieved June 7, 2010. 
  11. ^ a b "Y&R's Thomas Dies Of Cancer At 29". CBS News. December 29, 1998. Retrieved June 3, 2016. Actress Michelle Thomas, who had television roles in The Young & The Restless, The Cosby Show and Family Matters, has died of cancer at age 29. Thomas died December 22 in Manhattan, according to her publicist, Kahdijah Bell. 
  12. ^ a b Los Angeles Sentinel, January 6, 1999, "Michelle Thomas Succumbs To Cancer"; accessed June 3, 2016.
  13. ^ "Soap actress dies". Toronto Star. December 30, 1998. Retrieved June 3, 2016. 

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