Jay Thomas, the Emmy-winning actor known for his work on the classic sitcoms Cheers and Murphy Brown, has died of cancer at age 69.
His longtime publicist Tom Estey confirmed the news to EW and said in a statement, “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. He will be dearly missed by so many.”
Thomas appeared on Cheers from 1987 to 1989 as Eddie LeBec, the hockey player husband to Rhea Pearlman’s tough-as-nails waitress, Carla. Though his character met an untimely end — he was run over by a Zamboni — Thomas would go on to claim two Emmys playing Jerry Gold, an obnoxious talk show host and occasional love interest to Candice Bergen’s title character, on Murphy Brown.
Born in Kermit, Texas, and raised in New Orleans, Thomas began his show business career in radio and more recently hosted The Jay Thomas Show on SiriusXM. His early days on the airwaves also inspired an annual Christmastime appearance on Late Night With David Letterman, during which he would recount a memorable story about being involved in a hit-and-run accident while chauffeuring The Lone Ranger star Clayton Moore.
Thomas’ other screen credits included the TV series Mork & Mindy, Love & War, and Ray Donovan, and films including Mr. Holland’s Opus, Straight Talk, and The Santa Clause 2 and 3.
Thomas is survived by his wife, Sally (nee Michelson), and sons Sam, Jake, and J.T. Harding.