After attending State University of New York at Purchase, Jay O. Sanders made his off-Broadway debut in a 1976 production of Shakespeare's Henry V. Three years later, he graduated to Broadway in Loose Ends. Sanders' first major film role was Charles Rawlings, the husband of novelist Marjorie Rawlings (Mary Steenburgen) in Cross Creek (1980). He went on to spend a year in the role of feckless resident physician Dr. Gene Pfeiffer in TV's After MASH (1982). He later portrayed Steven Kordo in the 1987-88 (and last) season of the serialized prime time weekly Crime Story. In the 1990s, Jay O. Sanders played real-life "political prisoner" Terry Anderson in the made-for-TV film Hostages (1993), and was also seen in such theatrical features as JFK (1991) and Angels in the Outfield (1994).