Michelle Thomas (September 23, 1968 or 1969 – December 22 or 23, 1998) was an American actress and comedian. She was best known for her roles as Justine Phillips on the NBC sitcom The Cosby Show (1988–90), and Myra Monkhouse, Steve Urkel (Jaleel White)'s girlfriend on the ABC/CBS sitcom Family Matters (1993–98).


Early life

Thomas was born in Boston, Massachusetts on September 23, either 1968 or 1969 to Dennis Thomas, a member of music group Kool & the Gang, and Phynjuar Thomas, a stage actress. She grew up in Montclair, New Jersey and was an alumna of West Essex High School. In September 1984, she was crowned Miss Talented Teen New Jersey in Hal Jackson's Talented Teen Competition. The following year, she competed in the international pageant and won the title of International Queen.


From 1988 to 1990, Thomas portrayed Justine Phillips, the girlfriend of Theo Huxtable on The Cosby Show. She later appeared on various television programs during the late 1980s and 1990s including A Man Called Hawk and Thea. She had a role in Dream Date in 1989. In 1991, she had a small role in Hangin' with the Homeboys. She appeared in music videos for Boyz II Men, Mint Condition, Dru Hill and Chubb Rock. In 1993, she won the role of Myra Monkhouse in Family Matters. After the series ended in 1998, Thomas portrayed Callie Rogers Stark, an aspiring singer on The Young and the Restless. In October 1998, Thomas left the series.

Health and death

In August 1997, Thomas was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, intra-abdominal desmoplastic small-round-cell tumor. She underwent surgery to remove a lemon-sized tumor shortly before landing her The Young and the Restless role in the spring of 1998. In October 1998, she underwent surgery after a second cancerous growth ruptured. After being released from the hospital, Thomas flew home to New Jersey to spend Thanksgiving with her family.

On December 22 or 23, 1998, Thomas died surrounded by her family and friends in New York City at Manhattan's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, aged 29 or 30.

On December 26, 1998, a Muslim funeral service was held, as per her request. She was buried in Montclair, New Jersey.


1989Dream DateSally PalmerTelevision film
1991Hangin' with the HomeboysTelemarketing Operator
1998The Young and the RestlessCallie Rogers Stark
1999UnbowedAnnaReleased posthumously


1988-1990The Cosby ShowJustine Phillips8 episodes
1989A Man Called HawkRuthie CarverEpisode: "Choice of Chance"
1993-1998Family MattersMyra Monkhouse55 episodes
1994TheaKeanda2 episodes
1996DuckmanVoice role
Episode: "Exile in Guyville"
1997Malcolm & EddieBrooke BellamyEpisode: "Roofless People"

Awards and nominations

YearAwardCategoryTitle of workResult
1999NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama SeriesThe Young and the RestlessNominated