Growing Pains dad has heart attack playing hockey

Actor Alan Thicke with his wife Tanya Callau in 2013.
Actor Alan Thicke with his wife Tanya Callau in 2013.PHOTO: REUTERS

SAN FRANCISCO• Canadian actor Alan Thicke, best known for his leading role in the 1980s sitcom Growing Pains and the father of singer Robin Thicke, died on Tuesday. He was 69.

A source close to the family told Reuters that he suffered a heart attack and was transported to Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California, where he was pronounced dead.

Interviewed by the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday evening, son Robin called his dad "the greatest man I ever met" and "always a gentleman".

He confirmed that his father suffered a heart attack while playing hockey with his 19-year-old son Carter.

"The good thing was that he was beloved and he had closure," said Robin, who credited his dad, an accomplished musician himself, with being an inspiration and supportive of his music career. "I saw him a few days ago and told him how much I loved and respected him."

The older Thicke was beloved by many fans for his role as psychiatrist and father Jason Seaver in ABC's Growing Pains, which ran from 1985 to 1992.

The role earned him the nickname America's Dad and his character was ranked No. 37 in a list of the 50 Greatest TV Dads Of All Time from TV Guide.

His career also included stints as a talk-show host (his Thicke Of The Night lasted from 1983 to 1984) and a soap opera star (he appeared on The Bold And The Beautiful) .

He also played himself in appearances on TV show How I Met Your Mother, where he played up his Canadian roots.

Born Alan Willis Jeffrey, he was nominated for Emmys and a Golden Globe Award in 1988 for Best Performance by an Actor in a Comedy/Musical series for Growing Pains.

He was also a popular host for TV events, including the Emmy Awards, and a prolific composer of TV theme songs, including those for Diff'rent Strokes and Wheel Of Fortune.

More recently, he was set to appear in Fuller House, a remake of the popular 1990s family sitcom produced by Netflix.

"Season 2 Fuller House looking good. I even like the ones I'm not in!" he said in a tweet earlier on Tuesday.

Thicke, who had three sons, including businessman Brennan Thicke, is also survived by his wife Tanya Callau.

Brennan and Robin, the singer known for R&B and pop hits including Blurred Lines and Lost Without U, are his sons from his first marriage to Days Of Our Lives actress Gloria Loring. He had Carter with his second wife, Miss World 1990 Gina Tolleson. They divorced in 1999.

The entire family could recently be seen on Unusually Thicke, a mockumentary on the Pop TV network.

"We are deeply saddened to hear of Alan's passing," said Mr Brad Schwartz, president of Pop TV.

"He was a part of our Pop family and was a tremendous talent. He was also for all who knew him, an amazing father and a true gentleman. We had the privilege to work with America's Favourite Dad and his loss is one that is deeply felt."

As word spread of his death on Tuesday, many celebrities posted tributes on social media.

"America loved Alan Thicke. I'm so sad he's gone. Sending so much love to his family," comedienne Ellen DeGeneres said in a tweet.

The National Hockey League tweeted: "The NHL family is sad to learn of the passing of long-time hockey fan Alan Thicke."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 15, 2016, with the headline 'Growing Pains dad has heart attack playing hockey'. Print Edition | Subscribe