Former “Growing Pains” Dad Alan Thicke died today of a sudden heart attack while he was playing hockey with his 19-year-old son, Carter. He was transported to Providence St. Joseph’s Medical Center at approximately noon, and pronounced dead there. He was 69.
Born Alan Willis Thicke on March 1, 1947 in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Canada, Thicke got an early break when Norman Lear hired him to produce and head the writing staff of “Fernwood 2-Night,” which was a parody talk show based on characters from Lear’s earlier syndicated show, “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.” In the late 1970s, he was a frequent guest host of “The Alan Hamel Show,” a daytime talk show on Canadian TV, which led to his own talk show in Canada during the early 1980s, called “The Alan Thicke Show.” Thicke was later signed to do an American syndicated late-night talk show, “Thicke of the Night,” which was a direct competitor to “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” on NBC, but it only ran for one season (through 1983 to 1984).
Thicke at the time was also a successful TV theme song composer, often collaborating with his then-wife Gloria Loring on sitcoms including “Diff’rent Strokes” and “The Facts of Life.” He also wrote a number of TV game show themes, including “The Wizard of Odds” “The Joker’s Wild,” “Celebrity Sweepstakes,” “The Diamond Head Game,” “Animal Crack-Ups,” “Blank Check,” “Stumpers!,” “Whew!,” and the original theme to “Wheel of Fortune.” Thicke also co-wrote “Sara”, a solo hit for Bill Champlin.
Thicke entered the world of TV sitcoms on ABC’s “Growing Pains” in 1985, which lasted seven seasons and spawned two made-for television reunion movies. And, in 1995-96, he co-starred on NBC sitcom “Hope & Gloria.” More recently, he guested starred on TV series like “How I Met Your Mother,” “This is Us” and “Fuller House.”
He is survived by his three sons, including singer Robin, Brennan, and Carter, as well as his wife Tanya.