TV patriarch Alan Thicke of 'Growing Pains' dies

Actor and composer Alan Thicke was best known for portraying father Jason on the 1980s ABC sitcom 'Growing Pains,' which co-starred Joanna Kerns and Kirk Cameron.

Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP/File
Alan Thicke poses in the pressroom at the 42nd annual Daytime Emmy Awards at Warner Bros. Studios on April 26, 2015, in Burbank, Calif.

Actor Alan Thicke, likely best known for playing the patriarch on the 1980s ABC sitcom “Growing Pains,” has died.

Mr. Thicke also wrote several TV theme songs of the era, including co-writing the opening songs for the sitcoms “The Facts of Life” and “Diff’rent Strokes,” both of which aired on NBC. 

His sitcom, “Growing Pains,” aired from 1985 to 1992. Thicke starred as psychiatrist Jason Seaver, the patriarch of a family that included wife Maggie (Joanna Kerns), sons Mike (Kirk Cameron) and Ben (Jeremy Miller) and daughters Carol (Tracey Gold) and Chrissy (Ashley Johnson). Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio appeared on the program during the show’s seventh and final season.

According to the Associated Press, the show's popularity peaked during the 1987-1988 season, when it ranked at number five, above such shows as “Who’s the Boss?” and “The Wonder Years.” 

Thicke more recently appeared as a guest star on shows such as “This Is Us,” “Fuller House,” and “How I Met Your Mother.”

Before his success as an actor, he worked as a head writer on the TV show “Fernwood Tonight,” a syndicated program that aired in 1977, and he also wrote for other TV programs such as the 1972 ABC show “The Paul Lynde Show.” 

New York Times writers Christopher Mele and Niraj Chokshi said Thicke provided a "reassuring" presence on “Growing Pains,” writing that “Thicke had a genial warmth that he projected across all of his television work." They described his character, Jason, as "a classic 1980s formulation of the reassuring father, [who] solved everyone’s problems with a warm homily by the end of each 30-minute episode.”

Hollywood Reporter writer Daniel Fienberg called Thicke a "paragon of '80s TV fatherhood," writing that by “effortlessly projecting decency, warmth, and good sense, the ‘Growing Pains’ star was in many ways the ultimate TV dad … Thicke knew how to hit a punchline and he improved every show he starred on or guested on.”

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