Jon Thomas Terrell (July 12, 1948 – August 24, 2017), professionally known as Jay Thomas, was an American actor, comedian, and radio talk show host. His notable television work included his co-starring role as Remo DaVinci on Mork & Mindy (1979–81), the recurring role of Eddie LeBec on Cheers (1987–89), the lead character Jack Stein on Love & War (1992–95), and a repeat guest role as Jerry Gold on Murphy Brown. He won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series in 1990 and 1991 for portraying Gold.
In 1997, he starred in the television film Killing Mr. Griffin, based on the novel of the same name. In film, he co-starred in Mr Holland’s Opus and portrayed The Easter Bunny in The Santa Clause 2 and The Santa Clause 3. He was also an annual guest on The Late Show with David Lettermanduring the Christmas season, where he told a story about how he met Clayton Moore, who portrayed the self-titled character on The Lone Ranger. Beginning in 2005, he hosted The Jay Thomas Show on SiriusXM Satellite Radio, and was on every Friday afternoon on Howard 101.
Jay Thomas was born in Kermit, Texas, to Katharine (née Guzzino) and T. Harry Terrell. He was raised in his Italian American mother’s Catholicreligion; his father was Protestant. Thomas was raised in New Orleans.He attended and graduated from Jesuit High School in New Orleans.
Thomas made his annual Christmastime appearance with David Letterman for the first time in December 1998. Letterman and one of his other guests that evening, then-New York Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde, took turns tossing footballs at the Christmas tree across the stage, atop which sat a large meatball. As the two tried to knock off the meatball and failed repeatedly, Thomas came out and decided to join in the festivities and knocked the meatball off of the tree.
When Letterman talked with Thomas later on, he told a story about when he was a young disc jockey at a radio station in Charlotte, North Carolina. Thomas had been making a promotional appearance at a local car dealership. This dealership had also booked Clayton Moore to make an appearance, dressed in his Lone Ranger costume.
As the story goes, after the appearance Thomas, who at the time sported what he referred to as a “white man’s Afro“, and his friend, who was wearing high heeled shoes, tight pants, and a tiedyed shirt, went off to get “herbed up” (smoke marijuana) behind a dumpster, after the broadcast ended. When they returned to pack up their equipment, they discovered that Moore was still there, as the car that was supposed to drive him to the Red Roof Inn never arrived. Thomas offered Moore a ride in his old Volvo and he accepted. As they were sitting in traffic, an impatient middle-aged man driving a Buick, backed into the front end of Thomas’ car, broke a headlight and drove away.
Thomas gave chase to the Buick through heavy traffic, finally caught up to the man and confronted him about the damage. The indignant driver denied breaking the headlight and Thomas threatened to call the police. The man said nobody would believe their story because Thomas and his friend looked like “two hippy freaks”. At that moment, Thomas said that Moore, who was still in costume as the Lone Ranger, got out of the car and said to the man, “They’ll believe me, citizen!” 
For every year thereafter, with the exception of 2013, Thomas appeared to re-tell the Lone Ranger story and once again attempt what Letterman calls the “Late Show Quarterback Challenge”. For the final appearance of the story in 2014, Thomas was again successful in knocking the meatball off the top of the tree. Thomas missed the 2013 Late Show Christmas episode due to surgery on his throat; John McEnroe took his place and told the Lone Ranger story, then tried to knock the meatball off the tree by hitting tennis balls at it but failed.
Thomas fathered J. T. Harding in an out-of-wedlock relationship and the child was adopted by another family in Michigan. Thomas and his son spoke about their reunion on the Dr. Phil Show. Harding was the lead singer of the band JTX, and is also a country music songwriter.
Thomas had been battling cancer. Thomas’s wife Sally and his sons, Sam, Jake, and J.T., were by his side when he died on August 24, 2017, aged 69.
|1979–1981||Mork & Mindy||Remo DaVinci||20 episodes|
|1981||The Love Boat||Paul Harris||Episode: “First Voyage, Last Voyage”|
|1984||Master of the Game||Levy||Television miniseries|
|1984||C.H.U.D.||Cop in diner|
|1985||Spenser: For Hire||Tony Broz||Episode: “Discord in a Minor”|
|1987||Family Ties||Jerry DiNello||Episode: “Super Mom”|
|1987||A Year in the Life||Scott Spenser||Episode: “What Do People Do All Day?”|
|1987–1989||Cheers||Eddie LeBec||9 episodes|
|1988||The Adventures of Ragtime||Lester Waylin|
|1988||Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color||Delivery Man||Episode: “Justin Case”|
|1989||Almost Grown||Unknown||Episode: “Take It Slow”|
|1989||The Golden Girls||Sy Furbis||Episode: “High Anxiety”|
|1989||Freddy’s Nightmares||Stan Brooks||Episode: “Dream Come True”|
|1989–1998||Murphy Brown||Jerry Gold||9 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series (1990–91)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
|1990||Miracle Landing||Ed Meyer||Television movie|
|1990||Open House||Evan Gimbel||2 episodes|
|1990||Where’s Rodney?||Lou Barnes||Television movie|
|1990–1991||Married People||Russell Meyers||18 episodes|
|1992||Straight Talk||Zim Zimmerman|
|1992||Batman: The Animated Series||Guard 1||Episode: “The Forgotten”|
|1992–1995||Love & War||Jack Stein||67 episodes|
|1995||Bless This House||Ted||Episode: “If It Ain’t Broken, Break It”|
|1995||Mr. Holland’s Opus||Bill Meister|
|1996||Dirty Laundry||Joey Greene|
|1996–1997||Ink||Jack Stein||3 episodes|
|1997||Killing Mr. Griffin||John Griffin||Television movie|
|1997||A Smile Like Yours||Steve Harris|
|1997||Aaahh!!! Real Monsters||Disembodied Voice||Episode: “Spy vs. Monster”|
|1997||Working||Mr. Peyser||Episode: “Lost Weekend”|
|1998||My Date with the President’s Daughter||Charles Fletcher||Television movie|
|1998||The Simple Life||Joel Campbell||Episode: “Sara’s Ex”|
|1999||Stranger in My House||Ray Young|
|1999||Fantasy Island||Carl Harbin||Episode: “The Real Thing”|
|1999||Dead Man’s Gun||Emil Kosar||Episode: “The Good Chef”|
|1999||The Wild Thornberrys||Bull Seal||Episode: “Tamper Proof Seal”|
|1999||The Big Tease||Tony Bolero||Uncredited|
|2000||An American Daughter||Timber Tucker||Television movie|
|2001–2002||The Education of Max Bickford||Jerry Zibowski||2 episodes|
|2002||Ed||Gary Siringo||Episode: “Small Town Guys”|
|2002||Monday Night Mayhem||Pete Rozelle||Television movie|
|2002||Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Joe Sherman||Episode: “Vulnerable”|
|2002||The Santa Clause 2||Easter Bunny|
|2003||Run of the House||Bob Melman||Episode: “Twas the Night Before Homecoming”|
|2004||Joan of Arcadia||Obnoxious Investor at Spa||Episode: “Recreation”|
|2006||The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause||Easter Bunny|
|2007–2010||American Dad!||Brett Morris||2 episodes|
|2008||Boston Legal||Ian Hoberman||Episode: “Happy Trails”|
|2010||Cold Case||Lance Katrola||Episode: “One Fall”|
|2010||Mysteries at the Museum||Narrator||4 episodes|
|2011||Horrorween||Two Headed Monster|
|2011||Retired at 35||Mr. Jenkins||Episode: “Workin’ Man”|
|2011||Hung||Sandee’s father||Episode: “The Whole Beefalo”|
|2012||Shake It Up||Dan Gold||Episode: “Copy Kat It Up”|
|2013||Ray Donovan||Marty Grossman||Episode: “Road Trip”|
- “Jay Thomas – Biography”. IMDb.com. Retrieved 2017-08-24.
- “It’s Wouldn’t Be the Holidays Without Jay Thomas’ Lone Ranger Story”. Animalnewyork.com. Retrieved 2014-06-20.
- “Talk and Entertainment – Program Schedule – SiriusXM Radio”. Siriusxm.com. Retrieved 2017-08-24.
- “Jay Thomas profile”. Filmreference.com. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
- “Thomas hopes `Love’ will pave road”. Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. 1992-09-28. Retrieved 2014-06-20.
- “Famous People from New Orleans”. Experience New Orleans. Retrieved 2014-06-20.
- “The Whole “Veronica Mars” Gang Is Coming Back For A New Web Series”. BuzzFeed. Retrieved September 20,2014.
- “Jay Thomas takes one more shot at David Letterman’s Christmas-tree meatball”. NOLA.com. 2014-12-18. Retrieved 2015-03-08.
- Late Show episode airing December 19, 2014.
- “Emmy Award-Winning Actor Discovers He Has a Son”. Archived from the original on August 15, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-28.
- “Comic actor Jay Thomas is dead at 69”. Nydailynews.comr. Retrieved 24 August 2017.