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Growing Pains star and TV host Alan Thicke dies

Alan Thicke, a versatile performer who gained his greatest renown as the beloved dad on long-running sitcom Growing Pains, has died.

Carleen Donovan, a publicist for Thicke's son, singer Robin Thicke, said the 69-year-old actor died from a heart attack in Los Angeles on Tuesday .

Thicke was a Canadian-born TV host, writer, composer and actor well-known in his homeland before making his name in the United States, most notably with Growing Pains.

On that ABC comedy, which lasted from 1985 to 1992, he played Dr Jason Seaver, a psychiatrist and father-knows-best who moves his practice into his home so his wife can go back to work as a reporter.

Along with his clients, he had three - later four - children under his feet, including his oldest son Mike, played by break-out heart-throb Kirk Cameron, who served as a constant source of comedic trouble for the family.

Ontario-born Thicke 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.

He composed several popular theme songs, including The Wheel Of Fortune and for shows including The Facts Of Life and Diff'rent Strokes.

Perhaps his boldest assault on the US market was as a virtual unknown taking on the king of late night Johnny Carson.

Thicke Of The Night was a syndicated talk, music and comedy show meant to go head to head against NBC's The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

It premiered in September 1983 with great fanfare, boasting an innovative format and regulars including Richard Belzer, Arsenio Hall, Gilbert Gottfried and Fred Willard. But all too quickly it was evident that Carson was not going to be dethroned and the ambitious "Thicke" disappeared into the night after just one season.

In the 1990s and beyond, Thicke stayed busy as a celebrity TV host and with guest shots on dozens of series, including How I Met Your Mother and, earlier this year, the series Fuller House and drama This Is Us.

Like any good Canadian, Thicke was a hockey fan, frequently attending LA Kings games, and took credit for introducing the sport to some celebrities.

He had the satisfaction of seeing his musical skills passed down to son Robin, a successful singer-songwriter and producer who, with brother Brennan, were born to Thicke and the first of his three wives, Gloria Loring.

In an email, Ms Loring describing Thicke's passing as a shock, said: "We were all just together for Thanksgiving. He was funny, talented and deeply devoted to his family."

Thicke also leaves a son from his marriage to second wife Gina Tolleson. He had been married to Tanya Callau since 2005.

AP

Celebrities who crossed paths with Thicke, whether through music, acting or simply as friends, expressed sorrow at the news of his death.

"I grew up watching him and got to know him through Robin. He was always so kind to me," John Legend posted on Twitter.

"You were a part of my family and hockey family. You will be greatly missed. My heart hurts," Candace Cameron Bure tweeted.

"RIP dear friend and gentleman," posted Marlee Matlin.

Thicke's fellow Canadians also responded quickly.

Star Trek star William Shatner tweeted that he was saddened by his friend's loss and singer Anne Murray's Twitter post said she was "shocked and devastated" recalling him as a friend as well as a writer and producer of many of her TV specials.

AP

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