Actor Alan Thicke, who played the father in US family sitcom Growing Pains andc composed the original theme tune for The Wheel of Fortune, has died at the age of 69. A publicist for Thicke's son, singer Robin Thicke, confirmed that the Canadian actor died from a heart attack on Tuesday in Los Angeles.
He was also well known as a TV host and the composer of the theme song to sitcom Diff'rent Strokes but Thicke's most famous role was as Dr Jason Seaver in Growing Pains, which aired from 1985 to 1992. Robin Thicke wrote on Instagram: "He was the best man I ever knew. The best friend I ever had. Let's all rejoice and celebrate the joy he brought to every room he was in. We love you Alan Thicke."
Among those who have paid tributes to the actor are Star Trek actor William Shatner led the tributes on Twitter, writing: "Saddened over the loss of my friend Alan. Condolences to his family." David Hasselhoff wrote: "So sad #AlanThicke always made me laugh we recently worked and laughed together 'live for today it can be gone tomorrow' Goodbye Alan!" Singer John Legend tweeted: "I grew up watching him and got to know him through Robin. He was always so kind to me. So sad to hear about his passing." Actress Marlee Matlin posted a recent photograph of her with Thicke, adding: "RIP dear friend and gentleman."
Thicke was born in Ontario, Canada, in 1947. He was nominated for three Emmy Awards for his work in the late 1970s as a writer for Barry Manilow's talk show, and later for a satirical take on the genre in the variety show America 2-Night. The actor composed TV theme tunes for shows including The Facts of Life and the original theme for The Wheel of Fortune. He also briefly hosted his own talk show in the US called Thicke of the Night, a music and comedy programme which went head-to-head with The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. It premiered in 1983 but did not last beyond its first nine-month season. More recently, he made guest appearances on series such as How I Met Your Mother, This is Us and Netflix's Fuller House.
In a 2010 interview, Thicke said he was "proud" of his work on Growing Pains: "I share the corny family values espoused on that show," he said. "[I'm] happy for the role, both what it stood for and what it did for me and my life and my family and my career. It was a great opportunity that made my life good and something that I can show to my 12-year-old now in reruns. Corny and dated as it is, it's still relatable, understandable." Thicke is survived by his wife Tanya and sons Brennan, Carter and Robin, whose single Blurred Lines was a global hit in 2013.