Kirk Cameron is speaking out on the shocking death of his TV father, Alan Thicke. Thicke died suddenly on Tuesday after suffering a heart attack, according to the Los Angeles Times. The Growing Pains patriarch was 69-years-old. In a poignant post to Instagram, Kirk Cameron paid homage to his longtime co-star with a throwback photo from the show.
“I spent Monday through Friday for seven important years with Alan Thicke as my ‘TV dad,'” Kirk wrote. “I’m shocked and truly heartbroken today at the news of his death. Alan was a generous, kind and loving man. I am so blessed to have grown up with him. Chelsea and I send our love and prayers to his family tonight. We will cherish the memories…sharing the laughter and love.”
Kirk Cameron starred as Thicke’s oldest son, Mike Seaver, on the hit 1980’s ABC sitcom. While he didn’t initially stay close with his co-stars after the show wrapped in 1992, Kirk reunited with the cast for the Growing Pains TV movie in 2000. At the time, Thicke told the Times that the cast had a “genuine” reunion with Cameron both on and off camera. That same year, the cast also reunited for Kirk Cameron’s surprise 30th birthday.
“One of the best parts of doing this reunion was to be able to just reconnect again in a really nice way,” Kirk said at the time. “It’s a lot less crazy of a time than when we were teenagers. It’s an opportunity to begin new friendships as adults, and I’m really looking forward to that.”
While Kirk Cameron was Alan Thicke’s TV son, the late actor’s real-life son, singer Robin Thicke, told the Times that his dad was “the greatest man I ever met” and was “always a gentleman.”
“The good thing was that he was beloved and he had closure,” Robin said of his father. “I saw him a few days ago and told him how much I loved and respected him.”
In addition to Kirk Cameron, many other celebrities paid tribute to Alan Thicke, whose lengthy television career included songwriting credits for shows like The Facts of Life and Wheel of Fortune and recent cameos on Fuller House and This is Us. In response to a tweet by actor Daniel Franzese, Kirk’s Growing Pains mom, Joanna Kerns, wrote that her late TV husband was “one of the smartest and funniest men” she has ever known.
Tracey Gold, who played Kirk’s sister on the show, was initially at a loss for words over the sudden death of her co-star.
Gold later told Entertainment Weekly she was in shock over the news.
“I am in absolute shock and so unbelievably sad,” Gold said. “In 1985, the Seavers became a family and Alan was our patriarch. I looked up to him and admired him greatly. I always listened to his advice and wisdom. He was so kind and warm and always made me laugh. He was incredibly proud that our Growing Pains days were about family, all our families.”
One of the most touching tributes came from Leonardo DiCaprio, who joined Growing Pains in its final season, playing homeless teen, Luke. DiCaprio described his late co-star as “a positive influence” and said he will be “forever grateful for the opportunity” he had to work with him so eraly in his career.
Kirk Cameron’s real-life sister, Candace Cameron Bure, posted that she is “sad beyond words” over the passing of her longtime friend, whose last tweet was actually a shout-out to Fuller House.
“I’m sad beyond words that Alan Thicke has passed away,” Cameron Bure wrote. “I’ve known you since I was eight years old and so glad I had the pleasure of working with you again so recently on Fuller House. You were a part of my family and hockey family. You will be greatly missed. My heart hurts.”
While Kirk and Candace Cameron worked with Alan when they were kids in the 1980s, some of the late actor’s more recent co-stars also hit social media to remember the late television icon. This Is Us star Justin Hartley posted that Alan was one of his idols growing up and that the real life man was even cooler than his TV persona.
In addition, everyone from Ellen DeGeneres to Jason Priestly to pop star Demi Lovato paid tribute to Alan. Ben Stiller wrote his first job in Los Angeles was working as an intern for the late actor.
[Featured Image by Michael Buckner/Getty Images]