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Why Generation Y need to remember Alan Thicke

I may be young but I have a fondness for anything that’s come before me – particularly in the world of the arts. I think it only right to learn about the treasures of film and television that aired before I was born… I’d be doing myself a great injustice if I didn’t. I love old Hollywood, I adore the charming, sexy mature heartthrobs of yesteryear (Tom Selleck as Richard on “Friends”… tell me he’s not the loveliest, girls!?), and I’m glad I’ve had the chance to discover some of the great shows that concluded long before I was even a thought.

I’m also aware that Alan Thicke was more than Robin Thicke’s Dad.

Obviously, I’m not old enough to have watched “Growing Pains” when it first aired- but thanks to the ‘80s sitcom’s endless years in syndication, quite a few days off of school, and my passionate interest to watch anything and everything Leonardo Di Caprio did pre-“Titanic”, I’ve seen quite a bit of it. Sure, I’ve probably only seen the show – a sitcom about a nuclear family- at it’s weakest, which is when Leo came into it (the seventh season, as Google reminds me), but compared to most other contemporary sitcoms, even ‘weaker’ episodes of “Growing Pains” were significantly funnier. What are they doing wrong these days? Guess that’s a question for another time. Even though I’m twenty years older than most of the jokes on the show, they’re still relatable, still funny and, thanks to a great cast, work just as well on a young twenty-something as they would those that grew up with it at the time.

A lot of the appeal of “Growing Pains”, I have to admit (isn’t Leo – he was cute, but rather inexperienced, and showed up by most of his more seasoned co-stars constantly), is Alan Thicke. A gifted comic performer whose instant likeability and ostensible charm made him an instant hit with households in the ‘80s, Thicke has since gone on to appear in many, many other shows – including “How I Met Your Mother” and “Fuller House”. But it’s “Growing Pains” that he was most recognized for, and it was the show most quoted in news reports yesterday when it was announced that Thicke had sadly died of a heart attack. He was 69.

While reading about Thicke, and what else he had done (he has such a familiar face that you just know you’ve seen him in more than the obvious), I was interested to learnt that he wasn’t only an actor but an in-demand composer for theme songs. He didn’t sing the “Growing Pains” theme song, but he wrote it. That’s amazing. I can’t think of anyone, these days, that does that – sings and/or composers theme songs – and maybe that’s just because we don’t have theme songs anymore? In my time, I expect shows not to have themes – besides, say, “The OC” – and to just start with a title card, but I know for many of you a theme song was as customary as cereal for breakfast growing up. Seems Thicke wrote many of them – “Diff’rent Strokes”, “The Facts of Life” and “Wheel of Fortune” to name but a few.

I went on a mission to find out just how many out there were like Alan Thicke – starring in but also writing and composing theme songs for television.

I was reminded that Drake Bell composed and performed the theme song to his show “Drake & Josh”…


That Will Smith – with DJ Jazzy Jeff – came up with the theme song to his show “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”…

That Jackie Gleason came up with the theme song to his classic sitcom…

That Paul Reiser performed Murray Gold’s ‘Final Frontier’, which served as the theme song to Reiser’s “Mad About You” sitcom…

That ‘The Hoff’ sang over the credits of “Baywatch”…

And that the girls in “Girl Meets World” sing their song, too…

But nobody wore as many hats as the gifted Alan Thicke did. He really was an exceptionally skilled artist. And I’m starting to understand why his passing has affected almost anyone, near and far, these past 24 hours. My mother’s always saying to me, “They don’t make them like they use to.” Maybe she’s right. Salute, rest peacefully, and thanks for the introduction sir.

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