Malcolm-Jamal Warner Was at Michelle Thomas’ Bedside When She Died of Cancer at 30 — Remembering Their Love Story

“The Cosby Show” star Malcolm-Jamal Warner was by his ex-girlfriend Michelle Thomas’ side when she died from cancer in 1998. From the start of their romance to the end, here’s a glimpse inside the pair’s love story.

Malcolm-Jamal Warner and Michelle Thomas took their love from television screens to real life. For years, they remained everyone’s favorite couple.

But the duo’s love for each other was soon cut short, first by a breakup, then by Michelle’s sudden death. Take a look into their beautiful romance.


Born in Brookline, Massachusetts to musician Dennis “D.T.” Thomas and actress Phynjuar Thomas, Michelle’s entertainment career was written from the start.

Michelle started going to her mom’s theater performances and attended several of her father’s concert tours at a young age.

Michelle soon kickstarted her career in entertainment, and by 1983, she appeared in multiple television commercials across the country. Five years later, she met Warner.


Michelle and Warner met while appearing as costars on the hit NBC series “The Cosby Show.” There, they acted as the on-screen couple, Theodore Huxtable and Justine Phillips.

With the chemistry between the duo, it came as no surprise that they took their relationship off the screen. Even after Michelle left the show in 1990, her romance with Warner remained.

Describing the pair’s relationship, Michelle’s mother called Warner the love of her daughter’s life, adding that she believes he was her only real boyfriend.

But as with most love stories, Michelle and Warner had their fair share of troubles. The pair eventually broke up in 1994 but remained close friends till the very end.


Shortly after leaving “The Cosby Show,” Michelle joined the cast of “Family Matters” after she was cast as Myra Monkhouse, the love interest of Jaleel White’s character Steve Urkel.

After “Family Matters” came to an end in 1998, Michelle landed another role as Callie, an aspiring singer in the decades-long series “The Young and The Restless.”

Speaking about the actress’ time on the show, Warner explained that it was a breath of fresh air for her because she finally got a chance to show fans that there was more to her than her roles in “Family Matters” and “The Cosby Show.”

According to Warner, Michelle finally got a chance to be sexy. But that would not last for too long as the actress was forced to take a medical leave in October 1998.


In August 1997, a year before getting cast as Callie, Michelle was diagnosed with Intra-abdominal Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumor. A lemon-sized tumor was then removed from her abdomen, and doctors were almost confident she would make a full recovery.

But in October 1998, Michelle had to undergo emergency surgery after doctors discovered that a second cancerous growth had ruptured.

Despite having just had surgery, Michelle got on a plane and went home to spend Thanksgiving with her family and loved ones. Michelle crawled into her mom’s bed on getting home, and Phynjuar recalled the actress staying there for a long time

Kahdijah Bell, a longtime friend of Michelle who also doubled as her publicist, noted that even in her last days, the actress continued making jokes, trying to keep everybody in good spirits.

Michelle’s health deteriorated in the following weeks, and she was soon moved to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. There, she spent her last days.

Warner, who had been informed of Michelle’s worsening health situation, flew from New York to Los Angeles to be by her bedside. A day before her death, Michelle whispered “Elephant juice,” two words that have similar lip movement with “I Love You” when mouthed, to Warner.

It was a practice they had done frequently while dating, and now, in her final moments, Michelle thought it was only fitting to do it one more time.

On December 23, 1998, Michelle passed away while surrounded by family, childhood friends, and loved ones. She was aged 30.

The actress was buried the day after Christmas following a Muslim funeral service. Till today, Michelle is still remembered by many of her former costars and all who loved her.


Though Warner was undoubtedly left devastated by Michelle’s death, he managed to move past the pain. Now, the actor has created a beautiful life for himself.

In June 2017, Warner became a first-time dad, and interestingly, it was Michelle’s mother, Phynjuar, who confirmed the news to a media publication.

Warner reportedly shares his little bundle of joy with an attorney from Bridgeport, CT. Since becoming a dad, it is not unusual for the actor to give fans a glimpse into bonding moments with his daughter.

From a star in the 90s to a proud father of one, Warner has come a long way in life. No doubt, Michelle is smiling down on him from above.

Pavan Patil

About Pavan Patil

Pavan Patil is a seasoned male journalist with three years of experience in the field. With a passion for investigative reporting and a commitment to uncovering the truth, he has covered diverse topics, from politics to social issues. In his free time, Pavan enjoys reading, playing the guitar, and exploring nature through hiking and photography.

View all posts by Pavan Patil →