Jay Thomas had died. The actor and comedian passed away with his family by his side after a battle with cancer, according to Variety. Thomas was 69-years-old and is survived by his wife, Sally, and sons, Sam, Max, and J.T.
Jay Thomas was known for his TV roles, most notably as Jerry Gold on Murphy Brown in the 1990s. On Cheers, Jay played Carla’s (Rhea Perlman) hockey goalie husband, Eddie LeBec, for two years before his character was memorably hit by a Zamboni.
There has long been an urban legend that Jay Thomas’ character was killed off of Cheers because the actor allegedly called Rhea Perlman “ugly” during a radio show. In an interview with GQ, Thomas shot down the story, saying producers called him in to tell him they weren’t going to have him back on the NBC sitcom, but they assured him it had nothing to do with Perlman.
‘[Listeners] would go, ‘What’s it like to kiss Carla?’ Not Rhea—they were talking about Carla,” Jay explained. “And my joke what that I got combat’s pay to kiss her.”
Rhea Perlman later revealed that she loved Jay Thomas as Eddie, but there came a point where she didn’t want her character’s personal life to dominate her relationships with the people in the Cheers bar, so Eddie was killed off.
Jay Thomas also had a recurring role on Mork & Mindy, where he played Remo Davinci. More recently, Thomas played the character Marty Grossman on Showtime’s Ray Donovan. Thomas also hosted a Sirius XM radio show.
But Jay Thomas may have been best known for his annual visits to late night host Davis Letterman’s Late Show, where he would attempt to knock a meatball off the top of a Christmas tree with a football. As part of his holiday tradition, Thomas also told his famous “Lone Ranger” story in which he recounted a hilarious encounter with actor Clayton Moore, who played the famous masked man on the 1950s TV series.
After news of Jay Thomas’ death broke, fans and friends took to Twitter to remember the comedy star.
RIP Jay Thomas. A funny man. A good man. ????
— Dean Cain (@RealDeanCain) August 24, 2017
I worked with Jay Thomas on Joan of Arcadia and he was a great guy and good actor. My thoughts and prayers are with his family today. RIP
— Joe Mantegna (@JoeMantegna) August 24, 2017
You can see Jay Thomas telling his Lone Ranger story for the last time on The Late Show with David Letterman in 2014.
[Featured Image by Mark Von Holden/Getty Images]