Michelle Thomas and Malcolm-Jamal Warner were the reigning celebrity sweethearts of the early nineties. Their love for each other prevailed long after their breakup until it was cut short by death.
When actress Michelle Thomas died of cancer in 1998, her former partner Malcolm-Jamal Warner was among the special people surrounding her deathbed. Their love story was one of the most beautiful that ever played out between two Hollywood icons.
WHO WAS MICHELLE THOMAS?
At a glance, Michelle Thomas’ life may seem like a tragedy that ended in a devastating death. However, given the late star’s numerous accomplishments during her short lifetime, one could rightly say the actress made the most of her thirty years on earth.
Thomas came to this world on September 23, 1968. The daughter of Kool & the Gang music band member Dennis Thomas and actress Phynjuar Thomas, the “Family Matters” star, grew up in Montclair, New Jersey.
Thomas attended the West Essex High School before proceeding to hone her entertainment prowess at the Montclair School of Arts and the Broadway Dance Center.
MICHELLE THOMAS’ HOLLYWOOD SOJOURN
Thomas ventured into the movie industry from a young age. In 1988, she snagged the role of Justine Phillips on “The Cosby Show” and portrayed the character until 1990. She also landed roles on “A Man Called Hawk,” “Thea,” and “Dream Date” before earning herself a spot on “Family Matters.’
Between 1993 and 1998, the talented actress portrayed Myra Monkhouse, Steve Urkel’s girlfriend. Following her stint on “Family Matters,” she earned the role of Callie Rogers on “The Young And The Restless,” which marked her last gig ever.
THOMAS’ RELATIONSHIP WITH MALCOLM
Michelle Thomas dated her “The Cosby Show” co-star, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, from 1988-1994. The duo hit it off while starring as each other’s love interest on the show. Even after the series ended in 1990, they continued dating while supporting each other’s successes.
Not even their eventual split could keep them from nurturing their close-knit relationship. In an interview following Thomas’ death, the icon’s mom Phynjuar Thomas revealed that Malcolm was her daughter’s only real boyfriend. And the actor never took his place in her life for granted.
MICHELLE THOMAS’ FINAL DAYS
After years in the spotlight, Michelle Thomas’ days of stardom was cut short by a devastating death from a rare type of cancer mainly found in adolescent boys. Doctors diagnosed her with Intra-abdominal Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumor in 1997.
She went under the knife to remove a lemon-sized tumor from her abdomen following the diagnosis. The actress seemed on the verge of recovery until a second cancerous growth ruptured in October 1998, requiring her to undergo emergency surgery.
THOMAS’ FINAL WORDS TO MALCOLM
Following Thomas’ death, Malcolm opened up about one of their final exchanges. He recounted how she looked up at him from her deathbed and whispered the endearment: Elephant Juice. To him, those words were as good as “I love you” and meant the world to Malcolm.
The actor further explained how the endearing term held a special significance in their love story. He shared:
“That was always our thing. When I saw her, I said: ‘Elephant Juice.’ She smiled and said ‘Elephant Juice.'”
HOW FRIENDS AND RELATIVES REMEMBERED THOMAS
Throughout her life, the late icon never smoked nor drank. Hence, it came as a shock to everyone who knew Michelle Thomas that cancer would become her cause of death.
In the wake of her passing, Thomas’ mom recounted how she spent the previous day laughing, watching videos, and hanging Christmas decorations. As a result, the theatre actress considered her daughter’s demise “incredibly fast” and unexpected.
Thomas’ childhood friend Khadijah Bell recalled how the star tried to keep everyone else in high spirits. All the while, she never betrayed just how much pain she was enduring in her selfless effort to foster happiness.
Bell remembered the “Family Matters” actress as a fighter who battled the disease with all her heart because she wanted to live.
Thomas’ co-star, Jameel White, who played Steve Urkel on “Family Matters” got emotional while remembering her during a 2017 episode of “Hollywood Medium.”
Amid teary eyes, he described her as his old co-star who died rather quickly from stomach cancer. White seemed to be struggling with his emotions as he added that she had lots of friends in the music industry.
Michelle Thomas barely lived for three decades, but that was enough for her to stamp her name, not only in the book of fame but also in the hearts of many for generations to come.