Jay Thomas

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Jay Thomas
Jay Thomas at 44th Primetime Emmy Awards cropped.jpg
Thomas at the 1992 Emmy Awards
Jon Thomas Terrell

(1948-07-12)July 12, 1948
DiedAugust 24, 2017(2017-08-24) (aged 69)
  • Actor
  • radio talk show host
Years active1979–2017
Sally Michelson(m. 1987)
Children3, including J. T. Harding

Jay Thomas (born Jon Thomas Terrell; [1] 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 the music industry, the top 40 is the current, 40 most-popular songs in a particular genre. It is the best-selling or most frequently broadcast popular music. Record charts have traditionally consisted of a total of 40 songs. "Top 40" or "contemporary hit radio" is also a radio format. Frequent variants of the Top 40 are the Top 10, Top 20, Top 30, Top 50, Top 75, Top 100 and Top 200.

WEPN-FM ESPN Radio station in New York City

WEPN-FM (98.7 MHz) branded as "ESPN New York 98.7 FM", is an all-sports radio station licensed to New York City. The station is owned by Emmis Communications and its operations are controlled by the Walt Disney Company, ESPN Radio's majority owner, under a local marketing agreement. The station has its studios on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and its transmitter is located at the Empire State Building.

WKTU Radio station broadcasting in the New York City area

WKTU – branded "103.5 KTU" – is a Rhythmic Hot AC formatted radio station licensed to Lake Success, New York, a suburb of New York City. WKTU is owned by iHeartMedia and broadcasts from studios in the former AT&T Building in the Tribeca neighborhood of Manhattan; its transmitter is located at the Empire State Building.


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 theatrics, 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 . [2] Beginning in 2005, he hosted The Jay Thomas Show on SiriusXM Satellite Radio, which aired every Friday afternoon on Howard 101. [3]

<i>Killing Mr. Griffin</i> (film) 1997 television film directed by Jack Bender

Killing Mr. Griffin is a 1997 American television film directed by Jack Bender and starring Jay Thomas, Scott Bairstow, Mario Lopez and Amy Jo Johnson. The film is based on Killing Mr. Griffin, a novel by Lois Duncan.

<i>Mr. Hollands Opus</i> 1995 film by Stephen Herek

Mr. Holland's Opus is a 1995 American drama film directed by Stephen Herek, produced by Ted Field, Robert W. Cort, and Michael Nolin, and written by Patrick Sheane Duncan. The film stars Richard Dreyfuss in the title role of Glenn Holland, a high-school music teacher who aspires to write his own composition while struggling with quality time towards his Special needs family. The cast also includes Glenne Headly, Olympia Dukakis, William H. Macy, and Jay Thomas.

Easter Bunny Folkloric figure and symbol of Easter

The Easter Bunny is a folkloric figure and symbol of Easter, depicted as a rabbit bringing Easter eggs. Originating among German Lutherans, the "Easter Hare" originally played the role of a judge, evaluating whether children were good or disobedient in behavior at the start of the season of Eastertide. The Easter Bunny is sometimes depicted with clothes. In legend, the creature carries colored eggs in his basket, candy, and sometimes also toys to the homes of children, and as such shows similarities to Santa Claus or the Christkind, as they both bring gifts to children on the night before their respective holidays. The custom was first mentioned in Georg Franck von Franckenau's De ovis paschalibus in 1682, referring to a German tradition of an Easter Hare bringing Easter eggs for the children.

Early life and education

Thomas was born in Kermit, Texas, to Katharine (née Guzzino) and Timothy Harry Terrell. [4] He was raised in his Italian American mother's Catholic religion; his father was Protestant. [5] Thomas was raised in New Orleans, [6] where he attended and graduated from Jesuit High School. [7] He went on to attend and graduate from Jacksonville University. [8] Thomas was the quarterback on his high school football team and also quarterbacked in college, a skill he would later use on The Late Show with David Letterman .

Kermit, Texas City in Texas, United States

Kermit is a city in and the county seat of Winkler County, Texas, United States. The population was 5,708 at the 2010 census. The city was named after Kermit Roosevelt following a visit by his father Theodore Roosevelt to the county.

New Orleans Largest city in Louisiana

New Orleans is a consolidated city-parish located along the Mississippi River in the southeastern region of the U.S. state of Louisiana. With an estimated population of 393,292 in 2017, it is the most populous city in Louisiana. A major port, New Orleans is considered an economic and commercial hub for the broader Gulf Coast region of the United States.

Jesuit High School (New Orleans) roman Catholic high school in New Orleans, Louisiana (USA)

Jesuit High School is an all-male, college-preparatory, Catholic high school in New Orleans, Louisiana. The school was founded in 1847 by the Society of Jesus. It is centrally located in a New Orleans neighborhood known as Mid-City, in the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

Letterman appearances

Thomas made annual Christmas appearances on David Letterman's CBS late night show, beginning in December 1998. Letterman and one of his other guests that evening, then-New York Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde, took turns throwing footballs trying to knock a large meatball off the top of a Christmas tree at the other end of the stage. As the two took turns futilely attempting to knock off the meatball, Thomas came back out to join in the festivities, and promptly knocked the meatball from the tree. [9]

David Letterman American comedian and actor

David Michael Letterman is an American television host, comedian, writer, and producer. He hosted late night television talk shows for 33 years, beginning with the February 1, 1982, debut of Late Night with David Letterman on NBC, and ending with the May 20, 2015, broadcast of Late Show with David Letterman on CBS. In total, Letterman hosted 6,080 episodes of Late Night and Late Show, surpassing his friend and mentor Johnny Carson as the longest-serving late night talk show host in American television history. In 1996 Letterman was ranked 45th on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time. In 2002, The Late Show with David Letterman was ranked seventh on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.

CBS American broadcast television network

CBS is an American English language commercial broadcast television and radio network that is a flagship property of CBS Corporation. The company is headquartered at the CBS Building in New York City with major production facilities and operations in New York City and Los Angeles.

New York Jets National Football League franchise in East Rutherford, New Jersey

The New York Jets are a professional American football team located in the New York metropolitan area. The Jets compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league's American Football Conference (AFC) East division. The team is headquartered in Florham Park, New Jersey. In a unique arrangement for the league, the Jets share MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey with the New York Giants. The franchise is legally and corporately registered as New York Jets, LLC.

Beginning on a subsequent visit to Letterman's show, Thomas told a story about when he was a young disc jockey at WAYS 610 AM in Charlotte, North Carolina. [10] Thomas had been making a promotional appearance at a local Dodge dealership which had also booked Clayton Moore, dressed in his Lone Ranger costume. [9]

A disc jockey, often abbreviated as DJ, is a person who plays existing recorded music for a live audience. Most common types of DJs include radio DJ, club DJ who performs at a nightclub or music festival and turntablist who uses record players, usually turntables, to manipulate sounds on phonograph records. Originally, the disc in disc jockey referred to gramophone records, but now DJ is used as an all-encompassing term to describe someone who mixes recorded music from any source, including cassettes, CDs or digital audio files on a CDJ or laptop. The title 'DJ' is commonly used by DJs in front of their real names or adopted pseudonyms or stage names. In recent years it has become common for DJs to be featured as the credited artist on tracks they produced despite having a guest vocalist that performs the entire song: like for example Uptown Funk.

WFNZ sports radio station in Charlotte, North Carolina, United States

WFNZ is a commercial AM radio station in Charlotte, North Carolina. Owned by Entercom, the station airs a sports radio format. The studios and offices are located at 1 Julian Price Place, while its transmitter is located at the site of its former studios on Radio Road in the Oakdale neighborhood of Northwest Charlotte. WFNZ uses a directional antenna and is powered at 5,000 watts by day. But at night it reduces power to 1,000 watts, sending most of its signal to the east, to avoid interfering with other stations on AM 610 and adjacent frequencies.

The following radio stations broadcast on AM frequency 610 kHz: The Federal Communications Commission classifies 610 AM as a regional broadcast frequency.

According to the story, after the broadcast ended Thomas and his colleague, both clad in the hip fashion of the day (including their hair which Thomas' friend wore long while Thomas himself sported what he called a "White Man's Afro"), go off and secretly smoke a marijuana joint behind a dumpster. When they return to pack up their equipment, they discover that Moore is still there, as the car that was supposed to pick him up never arrived, so Thomas offers Moore a ride in his own car, which Moore accepts.

While in traffic, with Moore sitting quietly in the back seat, an impatient middle-aged man backs his full-sized Buick into the front end of Thomas' compact Volvo breaking one of his headlights, and then drives off. An angry Thomas chases the Buick through heavy traffic, forgetting all about Moore still sitting in his back seat. When he finally catches up to the man and confronts him about the damage the indignant driver denies all. When Thomas threatens to call the police, the man claims no one will believe "two hippie freaks"; at that moment, Moore, still in costume, steps out of the car and says to the man, "They'll believe me, citizen!" The man, now in a panic, exclaims "I didn't know it was you!" [11]

For every year thereafter except 2013, Thomas appeared to re-tell the Lone Ranger story and once again attempt what Letterman would refer to as the "Late Show Quarterback Challenge". For his final appearance 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 throat surgery; 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. [9]

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. [12] Thomas married Sally Michelson in 1987. They had two sons, Samuel and Jacob. [13]

Jay Thomas died of throat cancer on August 24, 2017, in Santa Barbara, California, at the age of 69. [14]


1979–1981 Mork & Mindy Remo DaVinci20 episodes [1]
1981 The Love Boat Paul HarrisEpisode: "First Voyage, Last Voyage"
1984 Master of the Game LevyTelevision miniseries
1984 C.H.U.D. Cop in diner
1985 Spenser: For Hire Tony BrozEpisode: "Discord in a Minor"
1985The GigRick Valentine
1986 Legal Eagles Waiter
1987 Family Ties Jerry DiNelloEpisode: "Super Mom"
1987 A Year in the Life Scott SpenserEpisode: "What Do People Do All Day?"
1987–1989 Cheers Eddie LeBec9 episodes [1]
1988 Monkey Business Tedesco
1988 The Adventures of Ragtime Lester Waylin
1988 Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color Delivery ManEpisode: "Justin Case"
1989 Almost Grown UnknownEpisode: "Take It Slow"
1989 The Golden Girls Sy FerberEpisode: "High Anxiety"
1989 Freddy's Nightmares Stan BrooksEpisode: "Dream Come True"
1989–1998 Murphy Brown Jerry Gold9 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(1989) [1]
1990 Miracle Landing Ed MeyerTelevision movie
1990 Open House Evan Gimbel2 episodes
1990 Where's Rodney? Lou BarnesTelevision movie
1990Little VegasBobby
1990–1991 Married People Russell Meyers18 episodes
1992 Straight Talk Zim Zimmerman
1992 Batman: The Animated Series Guard 1Episode: "The Forgotten"
1992–1995 Love & War Jack Stein67 episodes [1]
1995 Cybill JayEpisode: "Zing!"
1995 Bless This House TedEpisode: "If It Ain't Broken, Break It"
1995 Mr. Holland's Opus Coach Bill Meister [1]
1996 A Strange Affair Eric McKeever
1996 Dirty Laundry Joey Greene
1996–1997 Ink Jack Stein3 episodes
1997 Killing Mr. Griffin John GriffinTelevision movie
1997 A Smile Like Yours Steve Harris
1997 Aaahh!!! Real Monsters Disembodied VoiceEpisode: "Spy vs. Monster"
1997 Working Mr. PeyserEpisode: "Lost Weekend"
1998 My Date with the President's Daughter Charles FletcherTelevision movie
1998 The Simple Life Joel CampbellEpisode: "Sara's Ex"
1998The Adventures of RagtimeLester Waylin
1998Monkey BusinessTedesco
1998 Last Chance Artie
1998–1999 Hercules Ares6 episodes
1999 Stranger in My House Ray Young
1999 Fantasy Island Carl HarbinEpisode: "The Real Thing"
1999 Dead Man's Gun Emil KosarEpisode: "The Good Chef"
1999 The Wild Thornberrys Bull SealEpisode: "Tamper Proof Seal"
1999 The Big Tease Tony BoleroUncredited
2000 An American Daughter Timber TuckerTelevision movie
2001Surfacing: AKA A Letter from My FatherTom
2001–2002 The Education of Max Bickford Jerry Zibowski2 episodes
2002 Ed Gary SiringoEpisode: "Small Town Guys"
2002 Monday Night Mayhem Pete Rozelle Television movie
2002 Dragonfly Hal
2002 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Joe ShermanEpisode: "Vulnerable"
2002 The Santa Clause 2 Easter Bunny [1]
2003 Run of the House Bob MelmanEpisode: "Twas the Night Before Homecoming"
2004 Teacher's Pet Barry AngerVoice
2004 Joan of Arcadia Obnoxious Investor at SpaEpisode: "Recreation"
2006 The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause Easter Bunny [1]
2007, 2010 American Dad! Brett Morris2 episodes
2008 Boston Legal Ian HobermanEpisode: "Happy Trails"
2009 The Pool Boys Marty
2009 Labor Pains Garth
2010 Cold Case Lance KatrolaEpisode: "One Fall"
2010Sex Tax: Based on a True StoryCharles Taylor
2010 Mysteries at the Museum Narrator4 episodes
2011 Snatched Roger Byamm
2011HorrorweenTwo Headed Monster
2011 Retired at 35 Mr. JenkinsEpisode: "Workin' Man"
2011 Hung Sandee's fatherEpisode: "The Whole Beefalo"
2012 Shake It Up Dan GoldEpisode: "Copy Kat It Up"
2013Life TrackerAttorney General
2013 Underdogs Mike Mayhew
2013 The Trials of Cate McCall Loncraine
2013–2017 Ray Donovan Marty GrossmanEpisode: "Road Trip" [1]
2015 NCIS: New Orleans Marc MaslowEpisode: "Confluence"
2015 Bones Lenny JayEpisode: "The Promise in the Palace"

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  11. Late Show (airdate December 19, 2014).
  12. "Emmy Award-Winning Actor Discovers He Has a Son". US Magazine . Archived from the original on August 15, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-28.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  13. 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.
  14. "Comic actor Jay Thomas is dead at 69". New York Daily News . Retrieved 24 August 2017.