SANTA BARBARA, CA - One of the legends of Charlotte radio, as well as noted "Cheers" and "Murphy Brown" actor Jay Thomas, passed away Thursday morning at his home in Santa Barbara, California.
Jay had fought a long and quiet battle with cancer and had actually did his afternoon show on Sirius XM radio until a week ago. Thomas is survived by his wife Sally and three grown sons.
Jay was the morning DJ on Big WAYS and WROQ radio in the 1970s. His show dominated the ratings with a combination of high energy humor and the hits of the day. His sidekick was Larry Sprinkle, who helped provide an array of comic characters that appeared on this show every weekday morning.
Jay moved on to New York City radio, where a young Howard Stern listened and was greatly influenced by his over-the-top humor.
Jay’s show dominated the ratings there, before he auditioned for a new TV sitcom and got the part. That show was “Mork and Mindy” with Robin Williams. Thomas played the part of deli-owner Remo DaVinci. From that point on, his actor career accelerated into high gear.
He had the recurring role of Eddie LeBec on Cheers (1987–89), the lead character Jack Stein on Love & War (1992–95), and a repeat guest role as Jerry Gold on Murphy Brown.
Jay won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series in 1990 and 1991 for portraying Gold.
In 1997, Thomas starred in the television film Killing Mr. Griffin, based on the novel of the same name. He co-starred in the well-received film 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 was the The Lone Ranger on television.
Thomas most recently appeared on Showtime's "Ray Donovan."
There will be private service for Thomas in California.