They Broke the Mold with Alan Thicke
LOS ANGELES — I don’t really remember watching “Growing Pains” as a kid. I’ve seen it, of course, but it wasn’t appointment TV like some other programs of that time. In fact, just last week on the Rich Eisen Show, I said that unless you were a die-hard fan, I bet most couldn’t tell the difference between it and “Family Ties.” While primetime rivals, airing on ABC and NBC, respectively, they had the same tone, same dynamics and same weekly messages as other family sitcoms of the 1980s.
That being said, “Growing Pains” Alan Thicke was the class of great TV dads from my youth. Always level-headed, always quick with a joke and a pat on the back, but stern when pointed discipline was needed. No doubt my father, and probably your own, took notes when we weren’t looking from his life lessons. On-the-fly Parenting 101 in those days and his character “Dr. Jason Seaver” was a tenured professor.
We had this conversation because Thicke was coming in to talk TV, and as the unofficial ambassador for the upcoming NHL All-Star game here in Los Angeles, naturally we’d talk some hockey, too. He later called out Justin Bieber, demanding the pop star show his face at the celebrity game, and told stories of skating with current players and past celebs during pickup games. It was a tremendous interview (watch it here) full of that Thicke charm and cheese that made and kept him famous. You can sporadically hear my uncontrolled laughter because that’s what you did in his presence. His good-natured aura is infectious and it’s impossible not to smile and feel his warmth when he’s around.
Alan Thicke passed away Tuesday afternoon at the age of 69. It was reported he was playing hockey with his youngest son and underwent cardiac arrest. As a Canadian who loved the sport only second to his family, I’m sure if he had to design a way to go, that would be it. Playing the game he loved with his loved ones. Sometimes in death, life can be perfect that way.
This tragic news spread quickly and was met with the same reaction from everyone I encountered in my real and digital life: shock, sadness, reflection of a wonderful life spent in the public eye. Like I said, we saw him less than a week ago in our studio and he looked as fit, engaging, witty and gregarious as ever. It was his second appearance and it was equally as awesome as his first late last year. Thicke was born to be a talk show guest (having hosted his own he knew what made for great TV). I always tell people he’s easily in our Top 10 in the nearly two-and-a-half years we’ve been doing this. (His son, Robin, is also in the Top 10.) He even hit the post when we were playing our silly Radio DJ ramp game at the end of his segment. Alan Thicke just got IT. I remember thinking I wanted to ask him to do a voicemail recording for me just because how awesome would that have been? I never asked and now he’s gone.
This year has been tough. Countless beloved celebrity deaths and a divisive election has led many to lose hope, question reality and expect darkness and sorrow at every turn. This news doesn’t help. There was no one who didn’t like Alan Thicke and there was no one who enjoyed his own level of celebrity and fame as much as he did. He knew who he was and was comfortable being that man. We should all be that lucky. The perfect TV dad, I have no doubt he was an incredible father to his three children. Everyone had their own Alan Thicke impression and just the sound of his voice made you smile wide. I’m doing it right now in my head as a type this. Hopefully you’re doing the same.
There are only two weeks or so left but it’s felt like 2016 has gone on for years. Nothing but gloom and horrors. Black clouds and traffic jams. But it will get better. It has to. These are our growing pains but as long as we got each other… well, you know the rest.