Faces of 2013: Dundee-Crown alum Jay Cramer keeps rolling along
By Mike Danahey firstname.lastname@example.org @DanaheyECN December 25, 2013 8:14PM
Katy Sullivan, and her husband, Jay Cramer give a motivational presentation at Dundee Middle School last August. | Sun-Times Media file
Updated: January 27, 2014 6:05AM
This is another in a series of stories on people and events that shaped our local communities in 2013.
In October, Dundee-Crown High School alum Jay Cramer got a big break in show business — a guest shot on the TV show “Grey’s Anatomy” in an episode entitled “A Map of You.”
Cramer, a quadriplegic, played Mickey Wenschler, a patient with a dark secret who lets doctors map his brain as part of a research project. According to Nielsen Company ratings, the episode of the 10-year-old medical drama drew 8.73 million viewers for its initial prime time showing.
Contacted in mid-December, Cramer, who lives in the Los Angeles area, said he’s hoping that contacts he met through being on the show who were impressed with his work will lead to other TV acting jobs.
Since the airing, he’s also been keeping at stand-up comedy, taking part this month in a project called “Write Club,” where two comics are given a week to come up with written material on a topic. And on Dec. 26, he’ll be appearing at Flappers Comedy Club in Burbank. Cramer has a day job, too, overseeing a program called “Know Barriers” at Rancho Los Amigos, the rehab center that aided his recovery.
On Sept. 6, 2005, Cramer had two friends helping him learn to rock climb in Malibu Canyon for part of his “Survivor” tryout process. Cramer wound up cracking his head on a rock and breaking his C5 vertebrae.
Cramer received his undergraduate degree in theater from the University of Michigan in 1997 and has been pursuing a career as a stand-up comic and an actor ever since. Cramer’s parents currently live in Elgin. His biggest acting appearance prior to “Grey’s” was a small role on a 2010 episode of “Desperate Housewives.”
In fall, Cramer, his service dog Goliath, and his wife Katy Sullivan made public speaking appearances at a number of Chicago area schools, including Dundee Middle School in West Dundee, which Cramer attended. The trio intends to return to speak at area schools again next September.
Cramer met Sullivan at a therapy session. Sullivan was born without the lower part of her legs and grew up wearing artificial limbs. She became an actress, Paralympian, and a spokesperson for a prosthetics company.
Cramer said Sullivan currently is trying to sell a sitcom pilot with the working title “Legs.”
“It’s the new ‘Mary Tyler Moore,’ but with someone like Katy who doesn’t have use of her legs,” Cramer said.
If that weren’t enough, Cramer said he’s working on a script himself.
“You have to keep a lot of irons in the fire. You have to keep plugging away,” Cramer said.
Just don’t tell him to break a leg for good luck.
“More like bust a wheel,” Cramer quipped.