Alan Thicke dead: ‘Growing Pains’ star dies at age 69
Canadian actor and icon Alan Thicke has died at the age of 69, Entertainment Tonight has confirmed.
TMZ first reported Tuesday night that Thicke was playing hockey with his son Carter when he had a heart attack. Thicke was most recognized for his work as Jason Seaver on ’80s-’90s family sitcom Growing Pains.
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Born in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, in 1947, Thicke’s show-business career began on Canadian television, hosting a Montreal-based talk show called First Impressions in the 1970s.
As ET Canada noted, it wasn’t long before Hollywood beckoned, with Thicke hired by legendary TV producer Norman Lear to head the writing staff of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman spinoff Fernwood 2-Night.
He later returned to Canada to host an afternoon talk show filmed in the Burnaby, B.C. studio that is currently home to Global News BC.
Thicke said the homegrown entertainment industry at the time was underdeveloped and he consistently championed Canadian talent.
“When I was doing my talk show in Canada in Vancouver years ago, we had to beg, borrow and steal to get anybody in town,” he told The Canadian Press in 2013. “There was no production in town. There were no movies being made in Vancouver. We got (big guests) up because we threw great parties.”
After a successful run in Canada, Thicke took a run at the U.S. market taking on the man dubbed the King of Late Night, Johnny Carson. “Thicke of the Night” was a syndicated talk, music and comedy show meant to go head-to-head against NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.”
It premiered in September 1983 with great fanfare, boasting an innovative format and regulars including Richard Belzer, Arsenio Hall, Gilbert Gottfried and Fred Willard. But all too quickly, it was evident Carson wasn’t going to be dethroned, and the ambitious “Thicke” disappeared into the night after one season.
Then came Growing Pains, where Thicke played lovable dad Jason Seaver. Seaver was a psychiatrist raising his children along with his wife, played by Joanna Kerns. Seaver’s oldest son, Mike, played by Kirk Cameron, was a constant source of trouble for the family. Thicke starred on the popular show from 1985 to 1992.
Post-Growing Pains, Thicke still managed to maintain his lovable and charismatic persona in the public eye, often appearing as host of events such as the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants. He had guest roles on multiple TV shows, including How I Met Your Mother, The Bold and the Beautiful and Just Shoot Me.
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Condolences started pouring in on Twitter at the news.
Over the course of his career, Thicke was nominated for several awards, including a Golden Globe and a Daytime Emmy. In 2013, he was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame.
Not one to stick just to acting, Thicke also found time to write two books: How Men Have Babies: The Pregnant Father’s Survival Guide and How To Raise Kids Who Won’t Hate You. The two reads offered humorous takes on what it’s like to be a divorced parent.
“Have you done all you can to save the marriage? This is your child’s only chance at the ideal family unit, and his life will never be the same afterwards, so be very sure before you pull the plug and consign him to a lifetime of divided loyalties and split schedules,” he wrote.
Another one of his hidden talents was composing theme songs. For years, he worked with his former wife Gloria Loring to create the catchy tunes that played at the beginning of shows like Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts of Life. In fact, at the time of his passing, he had dozens of musical credits to his name.
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Most recently, Thicke could be seen making guest appearances on a variety of popular television shows, including Scream Queens, This Is Us and Fuller House.
ET Canada spoke to Thicke at the recent Whistler Film Festival, and spoke about the pride he felt about being Canadian.
“I love anything that comes from my home and native land and wherever I go there’s a few things you always hear. ‘Fellow Canadian,’ that always lights me up,” he said. “That one expression that we all seem to use and I hear a lot… and I like that they seem to say it with a sense of pride and that I haven’t shamed them.”
The actor leaves behind his wife, Tanya, and three children.
With files from ET Canada, Jon Azpiri and The Canadian Press
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