Actress Dies From Stomach Cancer
Michelle Thomas was born on September 23, 1968, in Boston, Massachusetts and was raised in New York. She attended Montclair School of the Arts and the Broadway Dance Center. Although she had many talents, Michelle Thomas' first love was music. With both parents in the entertainment industry (her mom is a theater actress and her dad is a member of the R&B group, Kool & the Gang), it was only natural that she would develop her own performing skills at a young age.
In addition to music, she studied jazz, modern and hip-hop dance at the Broadway Dance Center in New York. While attending an all-girls private school in New Jersey, she was crowned Miss Talented Teen New Jersey in Hal Jackson's Talented Teen competition, a contest based on talent and academics. She went on to compete in the international pageant in Jamaica and was crowned International Queen in 1985.
At the age of 16, Thomas was offered a recording contract, but decided to move to Los Angeles and focus on her acting career. She landed a national commercial on her very first audition. In her spare time, Thomas performed with the Groundlings Theatre group and studied with drama coach Anthony Abeson in New York.
On December 22, 1998, the young and talented actress died of a rare form of stomach cancer called intra-abdominal desmoplastic small round cell tumor, an illness she kept secret for many months. This rare form of cancer is usually only found in adolescent boys. She was diagnosed in August of 1997. She refused treatment up until she fell terminally ill. The day of her passing, her former boyfriend Malcolm Jamal Warner was at her bedside.
She had just received a NAACP Image Award nomination for "Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama Series" for her role of Callie on the Emmy award winning daytime drama "The Young and the Restless."
Thomas is perhaps best known for her role as Steve Urkel's girlfriend "Myra" in the long-running, comedy series Family Matters.
Thomas also appeared as "Justine" (Theo's girlfriend) on The Cosby Show and made guest appearances on "Malcolm & Eddie," "Thea," "Roseanne," "Conan the Librarian," "Dream Date" and "Man Called Hawk."
She also starred in feature films "Unbowed" and "Hangin' with the Homeboys," as well as "Never Make a Promise" and "What Kind of Man." Her LA theater appearances include roles in "Betsey Brown," "Inside Out" and "Conrack."
Thomas is survived by her parents, Phynjuar and Dennis Thomas of Weehawken, New Jersey.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Actress Michelle Thomas, who had television roles in The Young & The Restless, The Cosby Show and Family Matters, has died of cancer at age 29.
Thomas died Tuesday in Manhattan, according to her publicist, Kahdijah Bell.
Thomas appeared on the CBS soap opera The Young & The Restless as Callie; on The Cosby Show as Justine, who was the girlfriend of Theo -- the character played by Malcolm Jamal Warner; and on Family Matters as Myra, who was the girlfriend of Steve Urkel -- the character played by Jaleel White.
She had guest appearances in a number of other TV shows, including Roseanne, and also performed in music videos, Los Angeles theater productions and several movies, including Hangin' with the Homeboys.
She recently received an NAACP Image Award nomination for outstanding actress in a daytime drama series. "We are terribly shocked and deeply saddened by Michelle's death, and our thoughts and prayers are with her family," said William J. Bell, co-creator and senior executive producer of The Young & The Restless.
"Michelle was a great talent with a bright future ahead of her. She will be missed by all of us," Bell said.
Thomas was born in Boston and raised in New York. She attended the Montclair School of Arts and the Broadway Dance Center.
She is survived by her parents, Phynjuar Thomas, a stage actress, and Dennis Thomas, who was a member of the 1970s funk band Kool & the Gang, of Weekhawken, New Jersey.
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