Thicke Had Strong Sports Ties, Covered Mustangs Football

Canadian-born, all-around show business icon Alan Thicke, best known for playing the dad on ’80s sitcom, Growing Pains, died Dec. 13 after his aorta artery tore then ruptured. He was 69.

Thicke was playing hockey in Los Angeles with his youngest son, Carter. when he suffered the fatal attack. Earlier Tuesday, he had thanked the Whistler Film Fest, where he had recently received a Canadian Icon award.

Thicke loves sports, and covered the Western Mustangs football beat while attending Western University. In fact, he once recounted how Wayne Gretzky was house-sitting the Thicke residence in California with wife, Janet, in 1988 when he found out the Edmonton Oilers had traded him to the Los Angeles Kings.

Thicke is survived by his wife, Tanya, and his sons – Carter, born to second wife Gina Tolleson, and Brennan and Robin, born to his first wife, Gloria Loring. editor Jeffrey Reed last interviewed Thicke in January 2014, when he was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame. Here’s that story:

Anyone who has conversed with entertainer Alan Thicke knows he is as quick as he is funny. That double-edged talent is a big reason why he is one of Hollywood’s most diverse stars.

So, it was no surprise that when Thicke called from a congested Los Angeles freeway, he dubbed it a “parking lot.” And when learning of a winter storm warning in London where he attended Western University, he quipped, “It can get pretty cold down here, too. It’s not always David Hasselhoff weather.”

Thicke, 66, was recently inducted to Canada’s Walk of Fame, along with London’s Victor Garber, Terry Fox, Oscar Peterson, music producer Bob Ezrin, social entrepreneurs Craig and Marc Kielburger and soccer’s Christine Sinclair.

Born in Kirkland Lake, Thicke is perhaps best known as “America’s Dad,” after playing Dr. Jason Seaver for seven years on the hit 1980s television series, Growing Pains. But that was a close as Thicke would get to a career in medicine.

“My dad (Dr. Brian Thicke, 85, of Brampton, Ontario) graduated from Western, my sister (Joanne Thicke, a Toronto chiropractor) attended Western, and my brother (Todd) went to Western – he’s down (in L.A.) producing America’s Funniest Videos,” said Thicke.

enzuzijp“I attended Westminster College. I was active in the United Church of Canada when I was in high school. It was a significant part of my career development. Every time they had a youth day, I was the guy up there giving the sermon. My dad and minister conspired to enroll me in theology, which I didn’t do. But I ended up going into Pre-Med because, as I have always said, I think Pre-Med was God’s way of punishing me for considering the clergy,” quipped Thicke.

Without the stomach for medicine, Thicke majored in English and Psychology, and joined the Delta Upsilon fraternity. This past summer, he visited the Western Campus with his 16-year-old son, Carter. “We’re flirting with the idea of (Carter) attending Western. He quite liked it,” said Thicke. “But I must admit, I’m only half-heartedly pushing it because it’s a long way from home.”

In March, Alan and his third wife, model Tanya Callau, will star in a new TV reality/comedy series, The Thicke Of Things (Global). Thicke is also proud father of Brennan, a successful entrepreneur; and singer-songwriter Robin Thicke, whose song, Blurred Lines, rocketed to the top of the charts in 2013.

The apple didn’t fall too far off the tree in Robin. An actor, comedian, game show host, talk show host, author and emcee, Alan Thicke is also a talented singer-songwriter. He wrote for TV series and specials including Richard Pryor, Flip Wilson, Bill Cosby, Fernwood Tonite, Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell, Barry Manilow, Olivia Newton-John, Anne Murray, Mac Davis, and Sammy Davis Jr.  And he has composed the theme songs for TV sitcoms, Facts of Life, and Diff’rent Strokes (which he sang).

Thicke says it wasn’t until he attended Western that he considered a career in show business.

“My mother was trying to come up with a birthday gift for me that would come as a total surprise, and it was a guitar. I looked at her as if to say, what were you thinking? I have no interest in this. But then I noticed other guys around campus who were able to play, Michael Row Your Boat Ashore, captivating the ladies around town. If you learned a couple of Gordon Lightfoot songs, it was a home run,” said Thicke.

Eventually, Thicke, who covered Western Mustangs football for the Western Gazette, landed a job as a copywriter and all-night DJ at CFPL Radio, where he befriended legendary broadcaster, Bill Brady. “He discovered me,” said Thicke, who also worked for $25 do perform on stage at London’s Iroquois Restaurant.

Talk with Thicke turned to fellow Canadian Justin Bieber, and his announcement that he would retire at age 19. Quick as always, Thicke joked that a “good-old Canadian upbringing” had “somehow bypassed” Bieber, and that “by 19 and a half, he’ll miss (entertaining).”

It’s hard to think of the entertainment world without Alan Thicke, now inducted to Canada’s Walk of Fame.


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About jeffreyreed

A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office established 1989. Publisher/Editor of this website and

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