Linda Lavin is receiving condolences from fans following the death of her TV son, Philip McKeon. The 82-year-old actress worked with the former child star on the CBS sitcom Alice from 1976 to 1985. McKeon died Tuesday morning at age 55 after battling an undisclosed illness.
In a statement to People, Lavin credited McKeon for teaching her how to be a good mother.
“Philip was the endearing, loving boy, always willing and eager to connect with others,” the Alice star said. “Although we were performing a show, the dynamic of creating that relationship made our connection very real and deep. He taught me how to be a good mom, just by being the wondrous boy he was.”
Lavin is active on Instagram, but the TV and stage star has not used the social media platform to reflect on her friendship with McKeon, whom she first worked with when he was just 12 years old on Alice. Lavin is currently performing in New York City in her show No More Blues, and that appears to be her focus as she weathers a week full of bad news.
In the comments section to an Instagram post about her musical show, fans offered sympathy to Lavin on the loss of McKeon.
“I’m so sorry about the loss of your TV son Philip McKeon,” one fan wrote. “He died way too young. In interviews, he said he thought of you as his 2nd mom and said how kind you were to him as he was growing up and working on Alice. Praying for you and his family. ”
“Linda I am so so sorry about your ‘son’ Phil passing away,” another fan added. “You guys were beautiful together on Alice.”
While Lavin sometimes responds to fan comments on social media, she did not appear to reply to the comments about McKeon’s death.
It is unclear if Lavin and McKeon remained close after Alice ended in 1985. But in 2012, the former sitcom star was thrilled by a surprise visit from her TV son when he came backstage at one of her shows.
In the caption to a sweet photo with McKeon, Lavin wrote described the surprise backstage visit from her “darling TV son.”
Sadly, Lavin has lost two important people from her past in a matter of days. Philip McKeon’s death came just four days after the death of Lavin’s first husband, Ron Leibman. The actor was best known to television fans as Jennifer Aniston’s TV dad, Dr. Leonard Green, on Friends. Lavin was married to Leibman during her Alice heyday, but the couple divorced in 1980, in the middle of the series’ nine-season run.