Cheers actor Jay Thomas dies
Jay Thomas, a radio talk show host and actor with recurring roles on the hit US sitcom Cheers, has died.
The 69-year-old was described as "one of the funniest and kindest men I have had the honour to call both client and friend for 25 years plus", by his publicist Tom Estey.
Thomas had been fighting cancer, the New York Daily News said.
His best-known roles were as Eddie LeBec, the former-hockey-player husband of barmaid Carla on Cheers, and tabloid-talk-show host Jerry Gold on Murphy Brown, for which he won two Emmys.
Diane English, the creator of Murphy Brown, said on Twitter post that she was heartbroken to hear of his death and called him "gifted".
"I would have loved to write another role for him. RIP Jay," she said.
Thomas, who in recent years hosted a SiriusXM Radio talk show, was a reliably worthy guest.
His annual Christmas appearance on Late Show With David Letterman became a tradition that included a contest to knock a meatball off a Christmas tree erected on stage.
With each appearance he also retold a tale of his time as a radio DJ in the South when he and a friend gave a ride to Clayton Moore, star of TV's Lone Ranger. Letterman hailed it as the "best story I've ever heard".
Born John Thomas Terrell in Kermit, Texas, he began his radio career as a sports announcer for high school football and college basketball while attending schools including Gulf Coast College and Jacksonville University to earn bachelor's and master's degrees, according to his online biography.
He worked as a radio disc jockey and station programme manager in so many Southern cities that "I had a career like a Piedmont Airlines schedule".
His radio experience led to stand-up comedy gigs and eventually acting on stage and TV.
In 1979, he was cast on the sitcom Mork & Mindy in the supporting role of delicatessen owner Remo DaVinci.
He starred for three seasons in the sitcom Love & War as a sports writer romancing the woman who owned his favourite sports bar and made many guest appearances on comedy and drama series, most recently on Ray Donovan, 'NCIS: New Orleans and Bones.
His films roles include Mr Holland's Opus and second and third Santa Clause films.
He is survived by his wife Sally and sons JT Harding and Jacob and Samuel Thomas.