Growing Pains star Joanna Kerns pays tribute to Alan Thicke: 'He was my mentor and friend'
When actor/writer/producer/composer/talk show host/Growing Pains paterfamilias Alan Thicke passed away last week at the age of 69, the tributes began to pour in. Joanna Kerns — who played Maggie, the loving yet independent reporter wife to psychologist patriarch Jason Seaver (Thicke), on the hit ABC family comedy for seven seasons — released a touching statement, noting that she is “devastated by Alan’s passing and will be for some time.” For the Late Greats package in this week’s issue of EW, Kerns paid additional tribute to the man who served as her colleague, friend, and mentor. You can read her humorous and poignant remembrance below.
“I met Alan for the first time as we walked down the long hallway at ABC to audition for Growing Pains. We were in similar places. My first marriage was falling apart, and he was in the middle of a divorce. We both had young kids, both had recently canceled shows, so we needed this one to work. We talked as we walked. He made me laugh. A little flirting was going on, as it always was with Alan… with everybody!
Alan was my biggest supporter, and we truly loved and trusted each other. When I wanted to move from acting to directing, I asked his advice because he was a major writer-producer, the Emmy-nominated star of a Canadian talk show. And without a second thought, he said, ‘Well, you’re old…but you’d make a great director. You’re opinionated, stubborn, strong, and you love telling everyone what to do.’ Then he smiled. That was Alan. He was snarky but direct. Outside of my husband, he was probably the most supportive guy I’ve ever known. He knew so many people and touched so many lives. You know the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon? With Alan, it was actually three. Maybe two.
Alan had this way about him. He was handsome, cocky, and fiercely intelligent, but he was no saint. That was what made him so much fun. He lived to connect with people, and even more important, he loved to make them laugh. He was happiest when he could perform. It’s very hard to have a self-deprecating humor about the silliness in yourself, but he could do it better than anybody. He was oddly humble because he did not really consider himself a great actor. He often said, ‘I’m a master of B talent. I can do a little bit of everything.’ It didn’t matter where: cruise ships, shopping malls, used-car lots. If you wanted an emcee, no one was better or worked harder at making the event fun. I admired him for that.
Growing Pains was a gift. It lifted us both out of insecurity and changed my life forever. Best of all, it introduced me to Alan. He was my mentor and friend, and I loved him.”