Wednesday, December 21, 2016

I Remember Alan Thicke

I started interviewing Alan Thicke way back in the 1970s when I was the TV critic for The Hamilton Spectator.
He was always a character --very much into self promotion with a degree of self assurance I rarely met in an entertainer.
And that's because he was multi faceted --he was a superb producer of TV specials featuring the likes of Anne Murray.
He always wanted a breakfast interview at Toronto's King Edward hotel and would select a table in the middle of the dining room where he could be seen by everyone/
And he wrote the opening jingles for many hit TV shows.
When I first met him he was hosting a daily afternoon talk show on CTV although he lived in Los Angeles.
Thicke would fly into Vancouver every other weekend and tape 10 shows in two days which was an arduous task but hard work never bothered him.
Later we re-met in Hollywood when he was jump starting his own syndicated U.S. talk show and he took me on a tour of the studios.
But he never got traction because he had to tape several shows a day and competition for guests against Johnny Carson simply proved too much.
Later I interviewed him when he was in his element ---starring as one of the great TV dads in the vastly popular ABC sitcom Growing Pains.
He co-starred as psychiatrist Jason Seaver and the series ran for seven seasons from 1985 to 1992.
But TV stardom never morphed into a big movie career and Thicke seemed unsettled to me when we later met and he was show-less.
I remember one time when he phoned to confirm an L.A. lunch date and said he was bringing along his house guests --Gordie and Colleen Howe.
The lunch was hilarious with Allan fondly teasing Colleen and getting some laughter out of the normally taciturn Gordie.
It's entirely appropriate that Thicke died after playing hockey --he was after all 69 and told me he was fighting the inroads of old age with everything he had.
He openly admitted he had his haire tinted auburn and used techniques to soften the wrinkles on his face.
Most of all I'll remember Allan for his great delight in bering Canadian.
"There's always a lot of Kirkland Lake in me," he joked of his birthplace.
And in a terribly savage and competitive business what I liked most about Thicke was his sheer niceness --his most endearing Canadian trait of all.

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