Alan Thicke, one of pop culture’s all-time favorite TV dads, died on Dec. 13 of a heart attack. He may have been most well-known for one role in particular, but Thicke’s career was so much more than that.
As Dr. Jason Seaver — or as many a teenage girl referred to him, Kirk Cameron’s dorky TV dad — Thicke doled out advice that was both humorous and sensitive, even if your name happened to be Boner. Thicke’s character, and the family situation as a whole, was pretty advanced for its time. Dr. Seaver was a work-from-home dad who moved his psychiatry practice to a home office so he could take care of the kids while his wife Maggie went back to work as a reporter. His role earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a TV Series, Comedy or Musical.
Game show host
One of Thicke’s first regular TV gigs was as host of Canadian game show First Impressions in the late ’70s. A decade later, he hosted the celeb game show Animal Crack-Ups, and a decade after that, the TV version of Pictionary. in the early 2000s, he led the Game Show Network’s All New 3’s a Crowd.
Thicke composed about a dozen TV theme songs for his two favorite TV genres, sitcoms and game shows. Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts of Life themes are probably his most well-known, but he also penned the tunes for The Joker’s Wild, The Diamond Head Game, Blank Check, Stumpers!, Whew!, The Wizards of Odds, Celebrity Sweepstakes, and Wheel of Fortune.
Thicke’s first foray into reality TV came on Celebrity Wife Swap, where he switched spouses with comedian Gilbert Gottfried. It’s pretty hilarious and worth a watch on YouTube. Thicke later developed his own show, Unusually Thicke, which followed the exploits of himself, third wife Tanya Callau and son from his second marriage, Carter, with occasional appearances by his older sons, businessman Brennan and pop star Robin Thicke. The show was billed as a reality/sitcom hybrid, a fictional account of his family life presented in a reality format.
In all, Thicke’s entertainment career stretched from the late ’60s to his death in 2016. He shaped the TV landscape for more than one generation, and while he will be sorely missed, his influence will be felt for years to come.
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