Forever her mentor. Joanna Kerns penned a touching tribute to her late Growing Pains costar Alan Thicke on Thursday, December 22. Kerns recalled the first time she met Thicke and what she learned from the beloved TV icon in a post published by Entertainment Weekly.
“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!” Kerns wrote, before going on to call Thicke her “biggest supporter.”
“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,” Kerns added. “That was Alan. He was snarky but direct.”
The actress, who played Thicke’s TV wife Maggie on the popular ’80s sitcom, described Thicke as “handsome, cocky and fiercely intelligent” and revealed that he “lived to connect with people, and even more important, he loved to make them laugh.”
The actress concluded her heartfelt tribute by calling Growing Pains a “gift”: “It lifted us both out of insecurity and changed my life forever,” she shared. “Best of all, it introduced me to Alan. He was my mentor and friend, and I loved him.”
The Canadian actor died suddenly at the age of 69 on December 13 from a ruptured aorta. He was remembered during a star-studded memorial held at the home he shared with his wife, Tanya Thicke, in Carpinteria near Santa Barbara, California.
Kerns, the rest of the Growing Pains cast, including Leonardo DiCaprio, and some 300 celebrities, including Kris Jenner, Bob Saget, Rob Lowe, Alex Trebek, Bill Maher and O’Neal McKnight, were in attendance at the memorial.