Speed Reads

In Memoriam

Watch Jay Thomas tell David Letterman's favorite late-night story

Jay Thomas, the TV and movie actor, died on Thursday after a battle with cancer. He was probably most famous for his role on Murphy Brown, for which he won two Emmys, and he was also on Cheers and other TV shows. But he is also remembered for going on The Late Show with David Letterman every Christmas season to tell his story about the Lone Ranger, back when he worked in radio in the early 1970s. Letterman had him tell it every year, he said, because "it's the best story I've ever heard." It goes like this:

Like all stories, the details changed a little bit with each telling. Here's the first time Thomas told the Lone Ranger story on Letterman, in 1997; Paul Shaffer didn't step on the punchline:

And the last. By 2014, with Letterman retiring, Thomas was ready to stop telling his Lone Ranger story. Letterman clearly wasn't tired of hearing it. Peter Weber