Michelle Thomas: Career, Cancer, Death

Actors of Color, Black Actresses
Michelle Thomas

If you are twenty, you have not been born when Michelle Thomas passed away. Add ten to your age and you were still a child when this beautiful African American comedian held her own on TV and made a lasting name for herself. Michelle Thomas died in December 1998. Nearly 21 years later, we are here to take a long look on her lifetime, career, battle with cancer and death.

Michelle Thomas: Life and career

Michelle Thomas was born Michelle Doris Thomas on September 23, 1968. Ms. Thomas was born in Brookline, Massachusetts. She was born to a family of show people. Her father, Dennis Thomas was a member of a New Jersey music band that rocked the state in the 1960s. Michelle never used her famous father’s name to advance her career as she wanted to make it on the strength of her ability.

Michelle’s mother, Phynjuar Thomas, was a stage actress who later became an acting coach for her daughter. As Michelle was just 17 years younger than her mother which practically makes them siblings in some family settings, the duo was very close.

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The stage was indeed set for young Michelle to flourish in show business and she did. But first, she got to have some education. Michelle Thomas was educated in West Essex High School, North Caldwell, New Jersey. David Chase, the creator of the “Sopranos” is an alumna of this school. Michelle’s other educational qualification came via Montclair School of the Arts and the Broadway Dance Center.

By age 15, her talents were so obvious she won the title of Miss Talented Teen New Jersey. This was later confirmed on an international level in Jamaica where she won the title of International Queen.

More on her career

Despite these teen glories, Michelle was slow in making her entry into the entertainment industry. Michelle is less than five feet tall. On average, Hollywood actresses are 5 feet 5 inches. This fact might have played a role in her delay. But delay is not synonyms with denial. Michelle finally made her debut in 1989 aged 20. It is a cliche to say she didn’t look back ever but that is what she didn’t do – look back – as her career hit a front pedal.

Michelle Thomas featured in “The Cosby Show”. Michelle played the role of Justine Phillips in the award-winning show chronicling the life of upper-class African Americans on NBC. She appeared in eight episodes between 1988 and 1990 which was enough to make her a national star.

Thomas appeared in ABC action drama series “A Man Called Hawk”. She appeared in one episode. She also appeared in “Thea” the ABC sitcom in two episodes. Then she featured in “Family Matters” and earned a spacious place in the annals of Black Hollywood stars.

“Family Matters” was a much-loved predominantly African-American cast sitcom that aired for eight years on ABC and for the final year on CBS. Michelle joined the cast in 1993, four years after it began and acted in 55 episodes.

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Michelle is a recipient of NACCP Image Award as the Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama Series for her role in “The Young and Restless” which happened to be her last film before she died.

Michelle Thomas: Battle with cancer and death

In August 1997, Michelle was diagnosed with stomach cancer. This cancer came with a growth which Michelle underwent surgery to remove. She went on with her career. In mid-1998, a second growth sprouted. Michelle went under the knife again to remove it.

Determined to live, Michelle traveled to New Jersey to spend Thanksgiving with her family. It was to be the last family time she would have with her family in her home state. She was taken to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York City from her family home.

According to Celebrityxyz, Michelle never wanted to be chemically treated because she feared it will reduce her chances of becoming pregnant. She wanted to become a mother and have her own babies so much that she risked her life to do this.

Michelle Thomas died two days before Christmas of 1998. Although she was raised a Christian, Michelle who never smoked nor drunk alcohol nor ate pork might have been secretly practicing Islam for she requested for a Muslim funeral on her death bed. She was buried as requested in New Jersey.

Image Source: IMDb

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Staff Editor

The general editor's account and usually used as author for pages that have more than one major contributor and pages that represent the editorial views of this site

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