Jay Thomas is an American actor, comedian and radio talk show host. He is a three time nominee and two time Emmy Award winner for his role as Jerry Gold on "Murphy Brown" and is equally well known around the world as Eddie Lebec from "Cheers." He has starred in his own sitcoms: ABC's "Married People" and CBS' "Love and War." Jay has been featured in "Law and Order/SVU", "Cold Case," "Boston Legal," "Hung," and "Ray Donovan" just to name a few, and has starred in numerous TV movies where he has portrayed everything from the commisioner of the NFL, a wheelchair bound cad, and even a hard driving English teacher killed by his own students.
Thomas was born in Kermit, Texas, the son of Katharine "Kathy", a beautiful giddily outspoken southern belle and Harry a Texas oil man. He was raised in his Italian American mother's plantation on the banks of the Atchafalaya river in south Louisiana. After unsuccessfully taking the entrance exam twice, he convinced the head master that if allowed to attend Jesuit High School in New Orleans, he promised to be a graduate that the institution would forever be proud of. He was admitted and struggled while being rigorously educated in Latin, Physics, Chemistry, and Calculus. As a Junior Marine ROTC military school, he rose to the rank of Major (battalion commander), was a high school ambassador to Argentina, played football, boxed, wrestled, starred in humorous interpretation competition, was classically trained in Shakespeareand MC'd his talent show, where he first discovered his love of being funny and not getting punished for it. Bouncing around in radio, Jay always held to his father's strong belief in education and thus has been a student at Gulf Coast College, the University of West Fla., University of Tenn., Vanderbilt (Peabody College) and holds a masters degree in sociology from Jacksonville University, where he has been named a Distinguished Alumni. He also attended and played football at Central Piedmont Community College. He was drafted by the now defunct World Football League (a predecessor of the USFL) and he appeared in one Arena Football league game in Charlotte, NC. He lives in Southern California and is the father of three sons, Samuel, Jacob and J.T. Thomas fathered J.T. in an out-of-wedlock relationship and the child was adopted by another family. Jay Thomas and his son, known as John Harding, are reunited and have spoken about their reunion on the Dr. Phil Show. John Harding is the lead singer of the band JTX.
Thomas is perhaps best known for his recurring roles. The first on the sitcom Mork and Mindy, on which he played Remo DaVinci, the Italian deli-owner. He then played the hockey-player-turned-travelling-ice show-skater second husband, Eddie LeBec, of Carla on Cheers . He appeared on Murphy Brown as a tabloid talk show host, Jerry Gold, who was also one of Murphy's love interests . Thomas was nominated for three consecutive Academy of Television Arts and Science plaques winning back -to-back Emmy Awards for "Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series" for his portrayal of Jerry Gold on Murphy Brown. He has also been awarded a star on "The Hollywood Walk of Fame". He was seen in two episodes of "Circus of the Stars" thrilling the crowd as a fire eater and laying on a bed of nails while a strongman broke concrete blocks on his chest. He provided the voice of Ares in several episodes of Hercules: The Animated Series. He also guest starred in Seth McFarlane's "American Dad" as "Dad's" best friend. Thomas starred in the short-lived ABC show Married People, in the role of Russell Myers, a work-at-home writer married to a high powered lawyer (played by Bess Armstrong). He has appeared in several TV movies, including "Killing Mr. Griffin",(Thomas starred as Mr. Griffin, spoiler alert, guess how this one ends), Husband, Wife, Lover, with Judith Light, and Stranger in the House with Lindsey Crouse. Following his recurring role on Murphy Brown, the series' creator, Diane English, would cast Thomas in two of her subsequent TV series. The first was the sitcom, Love & War, and later on English's Ted Danson-Mary Steenburgen sitcom, Ink. At the turn of the millennium he is credited with launching the reality show craze by hosting "Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire" for Fox. Thomas was featured on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? as the "expert" available via Skype for the "Ask the Expert" lifeline. That week he answered every single question correctly bemoaning the fact that he "helped contestants win over $250,000 and was denied a cut by the ungrateful winners" (he may have been joking). Thomas guest-starred on "Hung", Law and Order: SVU, and Cold Case ", "Shake it Up", and "Retired at 35". He has been voice of Travel Channel's Ghost Stories and Mysteries of the Museums. He appears often on the late night talk show circuit with Bill Maher, Jimmy Kimmel, Sean Hannity, Fox and Friends, The View, CNN and MSNBC. An annual tradition every Christmas on the Late Show with David Letterman on CBS is his telling, tells what David Letterman calls, "the greatest talk show story ever", about his younger days as a Charlotte DJ and being involved in an auto accident with The Lone Ranger, Clayton Moore in the back seat of his beat up Volvo. Then Jay and Dave take turns throwing a football at a Christmas tree adorned on top with a meat ball. For years his holiday appearance has been a ratings grabber for Letterman. Jay only missed appearing in 2007 during the Writers Guild strike.
Thomas has appeared in such films as Mr. Holland's Opus, Straight Talk, Dragonfly , The Santa Clause 2 and The Santa Clause 3. He starred (opposite Greg Kinnear) in A Smile Like Yours, in Labor Pains (with Lindsay Lohan), and in Monday Night Mayhem (with John Turturro), National Lampoon's Pool Boys, and with Kate Beckensale and Nick Nolte in "The Trials of Kate McCullough".
His New York and Los Angeles stage credits include starring roles at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, and most recently at the Atlantic Theatre NYC in Woody Allen’s written and directed, “Writers Bloc.”
Jay and Paul Shaffer of the Late Show with David Letterman are the national fundraisers for PBS television. Jay has MC'd CBS's New Years Eve Live from the Hard Rock with the Rolling Stones, and Evening at the Improv.
Jay is a regular guest of The Late Show with David Letterman. He has been asked to comment on events of the day by Larry King, Bill Maher, Jimmy Kimmel, Sean Hannity, The View, The Today Show, Fox and Friends, GMA, MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News.
Thomas began his career as a sports announcer for high school football and college basketball (UNC-Charlotte) while attending Gulf Coast College and Jacksonville University. His expressed goal at that time was to be a stand-up comic. He was heard in Florida Pensacola, Knoxville and Nashville, Tenn. He hit the big time at WAPE ("The Big Ape") in Jacksonville and then moved on to Charlotte, North Carolina, where he was the morning drive DJ at WAYS-AM and WROQ-FM. One of his famous stunts was running for Mayor of Charlotte as "the best candidate money can buy", with his visage plastered all over town on billboard sized dollar bills. He was named Billboard Magazine Morning Drive Top Jock three times. He itched to become an theatre, film, and tv actor as well as a radio talent. His growing notoriety as an on air pro led to a job as a morning DJ in New York City at WXLO 99X FM. While at 99X, his newsman/sidekick was sportscaster Charley Steiner. Together they both realized their true calling. Jay became a stand-up at the World famous Improv in Hell's Kitchen, as well as hitting the footlights in a half a dozen well received off-Broadway plays and finally an audition for Garry Marshall that led him to be cast on Mork and Mindy. Charley moved to ESPN and the Yankees and Dodgers play by play. Jay may be best-known on radio for being the morning host on 92.3 WKTU. He was replaced by Howard Stern when the format of WKTU was changed to classic rock and the station took on call letters WXRK and station name K-ROCK. From there Jay worked briefly at KISS in Boston before being hired by then new Rhythmic Top 40 KPWR/Los Angeles as their new morning host, where he enjoyed a successful ten year run. While in Hollywood, Jay's campaign "We apologize for Jay Thomas on Power 106-fm" plus his ratings victory over Rick Dees and his Emmy award winning television performances, he was honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and presented to the crowd by another Cheers co-star, Woody Harrelson. While with KPWR, he hosted American Top 40 and can be heard as the voice of "Ed Sullivan"s Rock n Roll Years". Thomas left KPWR due to a musical shift to gangsta' rap. That unplanned break led him to be cast opposite Richard Dreyfus in "Mr. Holland's Opus". The Jay Thomas Show on Sirius XM Channel 104 3-6p EST and Friday 2-5p EST on Howard 101. Jay's show is contemporary uncensored talk, heavy on phone calls and guests from the famous to the ridiculous.