Alan Thicke's TV Wife Joanna Kerns Is 'Devastated,' Says the Late Growing Pains Star 'Kept Me Calm'
She played Maggie Seaver — the loving wife to Alan Thicke‘s Jason Seaver on ABC’s beloved sitcom Growing Pains. And on Wednesday, Joanna Kerns penned a heartfelt tribute to her late TV husband and longtime friend after his untimely death.
“I am devastated by Alan’s passing and will be for some time,” the 63-year-old actress wrote in a statement to Entertainment Tonight.
“Alan was a true and loyal friend,” she continued. “As Maggie and Jason Seaver, we experienced more than a life-changing success together. When you pretend to love someone day after day, year after year, you see all their faults and foibles and learn to accept them as they are, separate from you, and there is a connection that happens that is hard to explain. I had that with Alan. Maybe that’s what marriage should be, the ability to love without judgement and the strength to remain separate.”
The two met during a reading for the show in 1984. When they were put together, there was instant chemistry — and an instant kiss.
“I remember getting the call and walking into the audition room, and I was simply told to “Go kiss that girl over there — the blonde girl,’ ” Thicke explained in a feature on the show’s season 1 DVD. “And so I walked over to [Joanna] and had about two lines together. And then we were intimate.”
“We got along famously from the beginning and we’ve been the best of friends ever since,” he added. “We had a lot in common.”
Both were going through divorces at the time — she from commercial producer Richard Kerns and he from Days of Our Lives actress Gloria Loring (whom he collaborated with on themes from The Facts of Life and Diff’rent Storkes). And though there was never romance between the pair off screen, the affection they had for one another grew into a lifelong friendship.
“It was a big transitional time for both of us and we became really great friends right away,” Kerns added. “Maybe that’s the secret — to have a daytime husband.”
In her statement on Wednesday, Kerns reflected back at that idea of a “daytime husband.”
“I used to joke, before I met my real husband, Marc, that Alan was my favorite daytime husband,” she said. “At work we laughed all day, everyday at things Alan would come up with, usually at my expense. It was fun. Alan was fun and we all loved teasing each other. Alan kept me calm and when I’d start to get upset about something silly, he would set things straight, give me a big hug and very gently say, ‘Maggie … don’t be an a——.’ ”
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She teased him right back, it appeared — penning a nickname that she called him for years despite his hatred of it.
“I loved Al,” she wrote. “I called him Al because it really bugged him. He thought it sounded like an old man’s name. He hated it, but the cast loved it and unfortunately for him, it stuck.”
Growing Pains premiered on ABC in September 1985 and ran for seven seasons and 166 episodes. It made stars out of its cast, especially Kirk Cameron, Tracey Gold, and Jeremy Miller, who together played the Seaver kids.After its April 1992 series finale, the cast (including Ashley Johnson who joined as daughter Chrissy during the show’s final two seasons) united for two reunion movies: 2000’s The Growing Pains Movie and 2004’s Growing Pains: Return of the Seavers.
While they were an on-screen family, they all remained close off-screen too. And, as Kerns explained, the man American fell in love with as the kind and supportive dad Jason Seaver carried over into Thicke’s real-life too.
“Alan loved everything youthful: women, sports, music, and above all, his beautiful and talented sons, Brennan, Robin, and Carter,” she said. “There was a sweetness and kindness to his humor. No one could make fun of Alan better than Alan. As an actor, that is a gift, and I truly believe he was underrated.”