Biography

A character actor who specialized in upbeat, energetic everymen (often with a strong romantic angle), Jay Thomas made his most enduring mark on U.S. television sitcoms during the mid- to late '80s and early '90s. A native of Kermit, TX, Thomas kick-started his career as a standup comedian in the American South, with a particularly strong emphasis on French Quarter comedy clubs in New Orleans, LA. He achieved his big television break in the late '70s thanks to Mork & Mindy show creator Garry Marshall, who cast him as deli owner Remo DaVinci on that blockbuster program just as its ratings were beginning to slide; Thomas remained with it for two seasons, from 1979-1981. Following little-seen movie roles in films such as 1984's C.H.U.D. and 1985's The Gig (a particularly colorful part as an obnoxious entertainer), Thomas returned to series television in a big way, first with a recurring role on Cheers, as Eddie LeBec, the ne'er-do-well, washed-up hockey player husband of saucy barmaid Carla (Rhea Perlman) -- a role he held from 1987-1989 (which ended with the character being run over by a Zamboni machine!). Thomas followed up his Cheers part with two additional key sitcom roles: the lead role of New York Post columnist Jack Stein -- the romantic sparring partner of Wally Porter (Susan Dey) -- on Love & War (1992-1995), and (in a less frequently seen but equally memorable performance) Jerry Gold, one of the paramours of Candice Bergen's acerbic title character, on Murphy Brown -- a role that lasted for nine years. (Both programs were produced by Diane English.) When Brown folded in 1998, Thomas moved back into features, essaying supporting roles in such films as Last Chance (1999), Dragonfly (2002), and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006). ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi