The last couple of months have been filled with far too many tragedies in the showbiz sphere, as performers of the big screen, the small screen, and stage have passed away. Now, we have one more actor who has died. Jay Thomas has passed away at the age of 69. A dependable comedic actor, Thomas was probably best known for his roles on Cheers and Murphy Brown.
Jay Thomas' death comes after a battle with cancer. He passed away at his home in Santa Barbara, California, surrounded by his wife Sally and his two sons, according to the New York Daily News. The death was confirmed by Don Buchwald, who had been Jay Thomas' friend and agent for 35 years. Thomas will clearly be missed by all who knew and loved him.
As an actor, Jay Thomas had a great deal of success in the late 80s and early 90s. He landed the recurring role of Eddie Lebec on Cheers from 1987, who was the husband of Rhea Perlman's Carla until he was run over by a Zamboni and killed. He also appeared several times on Murphy Brown as Jerry Gold. He would go on to win an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series in both 1990 and 1991 for his work on Murphy Brown. Thomas also appeared on Mork & Mindy and starred on Love & War.
He also appeared on the big screen, with appearances in Mr. Holland's Opus and The Santa Clause 2, as well as its sequel, Santa Clause 3. Jay Thomas had a notable career as a radio talk show has as well, with a SiriusXM radio show called The Jay Thomas Show that kicked off back in 2005.
All of this said, some may know Jay Thomas for something that has nothing to do with a sitcom or a feature film. In 1998, Thomas appeared on Late Show with David Letterman, where he told the story of when he was a young disc jockey in Charlotte, North Carolina and he had an unexpected adventure involving marijuana, a car chase, and the original Lone Ranger. Letterman was so delighted with the story that he brought Thomas back every year at Christmas to tell the story again, creating a Late Show holiday tradition.
If you haven't heard the story of Jay Thomas and the Lone Ranger just yet, check it out below. The build to the punchline is so masterful that it's easy to see why Jay Thomas would get David Letterman laughing every year. Take a look!
Jay Thomas' passing is quite sad, but at least we can look back at his many works -- including his story of the Lone Ranger in the back of his car -- and laugh. Our thoughts here at CinemaBlend go out to his family at this difficult time.