Jay Thomas died at age 69 after a battle with cancer, Us Weekly confirmed on Thursday, August 24.
“Jay Thomas was one of the funniest and kindest men I have had the honor to call both client and friend for 25 years plus,” his publicist Thomas Estey told Us. “He will be dearly missed by so many.”
The comedian’s agent and longtime friend Don Buchwald first announced the sad news. “Jay was one of a kind, never at a loss for words and filled with so much fun and wonderfully wacky thoughts and behavior,” Buchwald told the New York Daily News.
Thomas was best known for his role as Jerry Gold on Murphy Brown from 1989 to 1998, which earned him two Emmys for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series in 1990 and 1991. He was also famous for playing Carla’s hockey player husband, Eddie Lebec, on Cheers from 1987 to 1989 before his character was killed by a zamboni. Some of his other major roles included appearances in 1995’s Mr. Holland’s Opus and on the sitcom Mork & Mindy with the late Robin Williams.
In recent years, he guest starred on several episodes of Ray Donovan, and hosted a weekly radio show, The Jay Thomas Show, on SiriusXM.
Thomas was also a frequent guest on Late Night With David Letterman. He appeared on the late-night show every year during the holidays from 1998 until 2014, and would compete with Letterman to knock a meatball off the top of a Christmas tree with a football. He would also retell the same story each year about a strange encounter with The Lone Ranger star Clayton Moore, in which he emerged from a minor car accident dressed in his Ranger costume.
The actor is survived by his wife, Sally, and his sons, Sam, Jake and J.T., who were by his side when he passed away, according to the New York Daily News.
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