On Tuesday, the news broke that “Growing Pains” star Alan Thicke had passed away at the age of 69.
“Jason Seaver” was a father figure to thousands of ’90s kids, though he was technically only the “TV Dad” to actors Tracey Gold, Kirk Cameron, and Jeremy Miller (and Leonardo DiCaprio, sort of).
After early success on “Growing Pains,” largely spurred by the popularity of lovable trouble-maker Mike Seaver (Cameron), the show’s ratings began to dwindle shortly after Cameron converted to Christianity — and the rest of the cast noticed.
Cameron explained that his personal focus had changed:
“I definitely kind of made an about-face, going toward another aspect of my life. I shifted my focus from 100% on the show, to 100% on [my new life], and left 0% on the show—and even the friendships that were a part of that show.”
And after the show got cancelled, costars Joanna Kerns, Tracey Gold, and Alan Thicke all got married within the span of a few years. Conspicuously absent from their guest lists: Kirk Cameron.
And while Cameron says he had no hard feelings toward anyone on the show:
“I can’t speak for anyone else, but I had no deep-seated animosity toward anybody in the cast. Chelsea and I were ready to start a life outside of a television show, outside of Hollywood—outside of the circus I’d been in for seven years.”
Rumors still swirled that his “Growing Pains” cast-mates may have felt differently.
Despite all that, a 2011 cast reunion brought them all back together — and Thicke noted a change in Cameron:
“Kirk came back to us as a warmer, more tolerant, accessible person. He’s now more one of us. It was a genuine reunion for us off-camera.”
With Thicke’s passing, Cameron posted a heartfelt tribute to Thicke:
His caption reads:
I spent Monday through Friday for seven important years with Alan Thicke as my “TV dad.” I’m shocked and truly heartbroken today at the news of his death. Alan was a generous, kind and loving man. I am so blessed to have grown up with him. Chelsea and I send our love and prayers to his family tonight. We will cherish the memories… “sharing the laughter and love.”
Cameron’s sister, Candace Cameron Bure, also worked with Thicke — but got to know him as a child when he was on set with her brother. Her tribute to Thicke was equally touching:
Her caption reads:
I’m sad beyond words that Alan Thicke has passed away. I’ve known you since I was 8 years old and so glad I had the pleasure of working with you again so recently on Fuller House. You were a part of my family and hockey family. You will be greatly missed. ❤️ My heart hurts.
Kirk Cameron’s final nod to his “TV Dad” was a clip from the show they shared for seven years: