Dearon “Deezer D” Thompson, who played nurse Malik McGrath in longtime NBC medical drama EAST, died Thursday at the age of 55.
Thompson’s brother Marshawn told TMZ the actor was found unresponsive in his Los Angeles home. The family believe he died of a heart attack – he already had open heart surgery in 2009 – but an official cause of death has not been revealed.
“I lost a dear friend yesterday,” Noah Wyle wrote on Instagram. “Deezer D, known to millions of EAST fans like nurse, Malik McGrath, passed away yesterday morning. He was one of the most creative and charismatic men I have ever known and his gospel of positivity pulled us both from a lot of dark places. I will miss him terribly. Please say a prayer for him and have a living thought for his family today.
His compatriot Mekhi Phifer also paid tribute. “What a special spirit we have all lost!” he said. “From day one I met him on the set of EAST he absolutely made me feel at home and welcomed. My brother will be missed forever! Many condolences to his friends, fans and family. Parminder Nagra added: “It’s so sad.”
Thompson did it again throughout the 15 seasons of EAST, including the 1994 pilot and the 2009 series finale. In total, he appeared in 190 episodes.
Prior to EAST, Thompson starred in Chris Rock’s film CB4. Additional credits included Bring Down The House, The John Larroquette Show, and Romy and Michelle high school reunion. He has also worked as a motivational speaker and hip-hop performer.
Lyn Alicia Henderson, who came back on EAST as nurse Pamela Olbes, also paid tribute. “I am very sorry to hear of his passing,” she wrote. “He had a larger than life mind and we always had the best conversations! I loved his music, his love for God and his love for his family. We will miss him!”
Oh my God. I’m so sorry to hear that. I loved working with him.
– Kellie Martin (@Kellie_Martin) January 8, 2021