In a year where the entertainment world has lost some of its favorite performers, 2016 has struck again. Alan Thicke, one of America’s beloved TV dads and one of Canada’s favorite entertainers, passed away suddenly. He was 69.
In show business, Alan did everything. He was an actor, producer, screenwriter, singer, game show host, talk show host and songwriter, known for co-writing the theme songs for the sitcoms, Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts of Life. Alan Thicke tried it all at one time or another and did it all with an immense amount of passion and positivity. He hosted both game shows and talk shows in both his native Canada and America, including emceeing the syndicated game show Pictionary which earned him a Daytime Emmy nomination. He had also been inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame. His early entertainment jobs included working for Norman Lear, producing the cult classic spoof talk show Fernwood 2-Night where he also served as head writer and hosting the short-lived syndicated talk show, Thicke of the Night which was meant to challenge the mighty Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. It lasted one season and became a standard punchline for jokes about failed talk shows. Alan Thicke let the criticism roll off his shoulders saying, “Thicke of the Night was supposed to challenge Johnny Carson. They said it couldn’t be done and I was the guy they chose to prove it. The show was ahead of its time. It should’ve been on in 2084, when all of us are dead.”
Moving past the failure of Thicke of the Night, Alan Thicke’s biggest success was waiting for him on a Tuesday night sitcom. His best known work which ended up defining his career, lasted for seven seasons on the ABC series, Growing Pains. On the sitcom, Alan played sitcom dad, Dr. Jason Seaver who was a work-at-home psychiatrist and husband to news reporter Maggie Seaver played by Joanna Kerns and father to originally three kids. That changed to four when a new baby was added to the series in season four and then in the final season of the show, a foster kid joined the Seavers, played by a young Leonardo DiCaprio. Dr. Seaver’s oldest TV kid was Mike played by Kirk Cameron who’s now best known for his evangelism as much as his acting. Growing Pains was a ratings winner for ABC, landing in the top 25 shows for most of its run and becoming a top 5 hit in its third season. Alan Thicke was also nominated for a Golden Globe for his Growing Pains performance.
Alan Thicke had just recently returned to the sitcom landscape with a cameo on the Netflix series, Fuller House, the spin-off to Full House. On the streaming series, Alan played a raunchy grandpa who is set up on a blind date with the lead character DJ Tanner. Since show business is such a very small world, it’s no surprise that DJ is played by Candace Cameron Bure, the real life sister to Alan’s Growing Pains co-star Kirk Cameron.
The man who could do it all on television did made for TV movies, commercials and appeared on series like How I Met Your Mother, American Dad, The Jack and Triumph Show, The Eric Andre Show, NBC’s new breakout hit This Is Us and even did an episode of Celebrity Wife Swap where he exchanged spouses with Gilbert Gottfried. His appearance on comedy shows just proved Alan’s incredible ability to poke fun at himself. He even joined the reality show craze on television with his mockumentary series Unusually Thicke which was an exaggerated fictional look at his real life. A second season had recently been announced for the series on Pop TV. Plus, Alan Thicke’s fun outlook on life, his warm demeanor and gregarious style also made him a favorite talk show guest and guest host towards the end of his life.
And later in life, Alan Thicke went on to become known to younger audiences as pop singer Robin Thicke’s dad, which may have been the credit that made him the most proud. Now that Alan Thicke is gone, the words of the Growing Pains theme song, are something he probably would have wanted everyone to remember. “Show me that smile again. Don’t waste another minute on your cryin’.”
Alan Thicke’s ex-wife Gloria Loring posted on Facebook the news of his death.
Comedians poured out their affection for Alan Thicke on Twitter.
America loved Alan Thicke. I'm so sad he's gone. Sending so much love to his family.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) December 14, 2016
I'm shocked to hear about Allan Thicke. He was a good man who gave me some big breaks in my early days. I'll miss you buddy.
— Howie Mandel (@howiemandel) December 14, 2016
Thanks for the laughs, Alan Thicke! You'll be missed. pic.twitter.com/3GM3shwG3F
— Funny Or Die (@funnyordie) December 14, 2016
So sad is the passing of Alan Thicke. Such a good husband, father, brother, and friend. He will be deeply missed. Rest in peace dear Alan.
— bob saget (@bobsaget) December 14, 2016
— Mindy Cohn (@MindyCohn) December 14, 2016
— Dave Coulier (@DaveCoulier) December 14, 2016
Rest in peace Alan Thicke – You brought so much light, love and humor to the world! Deeply grateful for your friendship and wisdom.
— Ed Helms (@edhelms) December 14, 2016
Saddened over the loss of my friend Alan. Condolences to his family.
— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) December 14, 2016
To my @WifeSwap partner…I'll miss you. RIP Alan Thicke
— Gilbert Gottfried (@RealGilbert) December 14, 2016
RIP Alan Thicke who was a great talent and a genuine person. #everyonesdad
— Dane Cook (@DaneCook) December 14, 2016
.@Alan_Thicke was always so gracious & kind to me. A very very cool guy. Rest In Peace my friend. God bless this great Canadian!
— Joel McHale (@joelmchale) December 14, 2016
Alan Thicke was such a big hockey fan and avid player, the NHL also wanted to tweet their condolences.
The NHL family is sad to learn of the passing of longtime hockey fan Alan Thicke. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. pic.twitter.com/5ADyWRksuf
— NHL (@NHL) December 14, 2016