Actor and satellite radio DJ Jay Thomas, who appeared on shows including "Murphy Brown," "Cheers," "Mork & Mindy" and "Ray Donovan," has died at the age of 69 after suffering from cancer.
Thomas passed away on the morning of Aug. 24 in his home in Santa Barbara, California, reports the New York Daily News. His wife Sally and his sons Sam, Jake and J.T. were with him.
Thomas had a number of unforgettable TV roles over the years. Fans of "Mork and Mindy" might remember him as deli owner Remo DaVinci alongside Robin Williams on the show from 1979 to 1981, while "Cheers" fans might recognize him as Eddie LeBec, Carla the cocktail waitress' husband. The Eddie LeBec character got run over by a Zamboni after appearing on the show between 1987 and 1989.
From 1989 to 1998, Thomas played the iconic Jerry Gold on "Murphy Brown," perhaps his most memorable role.
Thomas had a number of famous appearances on "The Late Show with David Letterman," in which he would show up for the holidays and throw footballs with Letterman in an attempt to knock a meatball off of a Christmas tree, a tradition that recurred between 1998 and 2014. According to the Chicago Tribune, the tradition began with Letterman and NFL quarterback Vinny Testaverde; both struggled to strike the meatball, but Thomas, who had played quarterback in college, jumped in the skit and hit the meatball on his first try.
Each year that he appeared for Letterman's holiday special, Thomas would recount "The Lone Ranger" story, in which he would detail a bizarre experience he had with the western star Clayton Moore. Thomas and Moore got in a car crash while "herbed up," after which Moore backed Thomas up against the other belligerent driver.
"I loved Jay," Letterman told CNN in a statement. "His Lone Ranger story was the best I heard in 30 years. Plus, nobody could throw a football like Jay. Maybe Tina Fey, maybe. My heart goes out to his family."
According to the Chicago Tribune, the Texas-born Thomas announced high school and college sports while earning a master’s degree, and then dabbled in stand-up comedy before getting his big break on “Mork and Mindy” in 1979.
Thomas also appeared on "Bones" and "NCIS: New Orleans." He won two Emmys for his work on "Murphy Brown."
"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," said Thomas' publicist Tom Estey. "He will be dearly missed by so many."