(By Buzz Knight) The passing of Jay Thomas leaves an incredible void for those of us who knew him and for an audience that loved him as an entertainer. Actually, Jay defined the concept of multi-talented. Actor, comedian, radio host, and a career that spanned decades of memorable moments. I am proud to have observed his illustrious career and even more proud to call him a friend.
There are so many entertaining moments that defined him that it would be impossible to do them all justice. His radio career was simply legendary. It was impactful as only Jay could define it. He made such a mark on Charlotte from his time at Big Ways that I was convinced that he could have run for office there and won to this day. He ultimately did what few radio people ever did…he grew his brand from radio to TV and movies.
His TV career would cast him on some of the biggest sitcoms of all time in memorable roles such as Remo Davinci on Mork and Mindy, Eddie Lebec on Cheers, Jack Stein on Love and War, Jerry Gold on Murphy Brown (which would win him a Prime Time Emmy Award for two years) and recently Ray Donovan. He would appear in multiple movie roles, but his greatest role would be of William Meister in the outstanding movie Mr. Holland’s Opus.
Who could forget his infamous appearances on David Letterman Christmas time with his football toss at the Christmas tree along with his story about the Lone Ranger? The Lone Ranger story is a complete riot! That story showcased one of the many things that Jay was so great at…storytelling. When Jay Thomas told ANY story, everyone leaned in.
I admire Jay for so many elements of his career but I most admire how he fought the horror of cancer. He fought it valiantly and with dignity. Even in the midst of the battle he keep practicing the craft he loved by doing his show on Sirius XM.
RIP Jay. I can’t believe you are gone but your legacy lives on.