If you were lucky enough to experience growing up in the 1980s, and Bill Cosby wasn't your thing, then you'd know that Alan Thicke was almal se TV pa.
Alan, who died Tuesday at age 69, starred in Growing Pains as Dr. Jason Seaver, an open-hearted parent and an enlightened husband, working from home to help tend the kids while his wife revived her career.
ABC’s “Growing Pains” was pure comfort food about a suburban family with a genial, father-knows-best patriarch, cheerful mom (Joanna Kerns) and a brood that included breakout heartthrob Kirk Cameron as teenager Mike and, in the show’s final 1991-92 season, Leonardo DiCaprio.
The Canadian-born TV host, writer, composer and actor died of a heart attack, said Carleen Donovan, who is a publicist for Thicke’s son, singer Robin Thicke. She had no further details.
“I spent Monday through Friday for seven important years with Alan Thicke as my ‘TV dad,'” Cameron said in a statement. “I’m shocked and truly heartbroken today at the news of his death. Alan was a generous, kind and loving man. I am so blessed to have grown up with him.”
Thicke’s fellow Canadians also responded quickly. William Shatner posted on Twitter that he was saddened by his loss, and singer Anne Murray’s Twitter post said she was “shocked and devastated,” recalling him as a friend and the writer-producer of many of her TV specials.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted, “Alan Thicke was proudly Canadian, never forgetting his roots as he soared to stardom.”
The Edmonton Oilers weighed in as well. “RIP to one of the great ones, Alan Thicke,” was posted on the hockey team’s website, with a photo of a youthful Thicke and Wayne Gretzky on the ice.
Born in Ontario, Canada, in 1947, Thicke was nominated for three Emmy Awards for his work in the late 1970s as a writer for Barry Manilow’s talk show, and later for a satirical take on the genre in the variety show America 2-Night.
He composed several popular theme songs, including the original theme for The Wheel of Fortune and other shows including The Facts of Life and Diff’rent Strokes.
Perhaps his boldest assault on the U.S. market was as a virtual unknown taking on 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.”
In the 1990s and beyond, Thicke stayed busy as a celebrity TV host and with guest shots on dozens of series, including How I Met Your Mother and, this year, the Netflix series Fuller House starring Candace Cameron Bure and the NBC drama This Is Us.
Other celebrities who had crossed paths with Thicke, whether through music, acting or simply as friends, expressed their sorrow at news of his death.
“I grew up watching him and got to know him through Robin. He was always so kind to me,” John Legend posted on Twitter.