"Growing Pains" was one of the most beloved sitcoms in the 1980s. Starring Alan Thicke and Joanna Kerns as married couple Jason and Maggie Seaver, the ABC comedy followed the lives of the working parents and their family, which included eldest son Mike (Kirk Cameron), daughter Carol (Tracey Gold), and youngest son Ben (Jeremy Miller). The family later expanded with the addition of another daughter, Chrissy (played by toddler twins Kelsey and Kirsten Dohring before child star Ashley Johnson took over the role in Season 6), and homeless teen turned houseguest Luke Brower (played by — wait for it! — a young Leonardo DiCaprio).
Throughout its long run, from 1985 to 1992, "Growing Pains" also featured many recurring cast members. Mike Seaver had a couple of girlfriends, played by Julie McCullough and Cameron’s future real-life wife, Chelsea Noble, and other Seaver friends and family members were also featured, including pals Stinky Sullivan (Jamie Abbott), Richard "Boner" Stabone (Andrew Koenig), and Carol Seaver’s longtime crush, Bobby Wynette (Kevin Wixted), per IMDb.
Nearly 30 years after "Growing Pains" ended its seven-season run, several of its most memorable cast members have since passed away. Here’s a look at some of them.
Alan Thicke died in 2016 at age 69
Known for playing work-at-home psychiatrist Jason Seaver, Alan Thicke was the main character on "Growing Pains" and appeared in every episode of the sitcom, per IMDb. On December 13, 2016, nearly 25 years after the series ended, Thicke collapsed and died while playing ice hockey with his youngest son, Carter. The Canadian-born actor and composer was just 69 years old, per the Los Angeles Times.
Thicke’s son, musician Robin Thicke, later revealed that his father’s final act included complimenting Carter on a shot he made as they played their favorite sport together, per AP News. The actor’s TV son, Kirk Cameron, released a statement saying he was "so blessed to have grown up" with him.
Thicke’s death certificate later revealed his cause of death was a "ruptured aorta" and a "standard type A aortic dissection," according to People. The actor had been warned about his health just three months before he died. While filming an episode of "Hollywood Medium" with celebrity psychic Tyler Henry, Thicke was advised to have his heart checked. Henry later told Today that the warning signs about Thicke’s health came through to him loud and clear, but that the actor was "a skeptic and, sadly, ultimately passed away a couple of months later." Thicke’s wife, Tanya, requested that the "Hollywood Medium" episode still be aired as a way to honor her late husband’s legacy.
Andrew Koenig was just 41 when he died in 2010
For 25 episodes on "Growing Pains," actor Andrew Koenig played Richard "Boner" Stabone, the best friend of Mike Seaver. The young actor went on to play roles on "My Two Dads," and "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" before taking a long break from acting, per IMDb.
In February 2010, Koenig, 41, was reported missing when he failed to board a flight from Vancouver to Los Angeles, according to CNN. Less than two weeks later, Koenig’s body was found by a search party in a Stanley Park in Vancouver, British Columbia. His father, Walter Koenig, spoke at a news conference to reveal the tragic news that his son had died by suicide. The elder Koenig said his son had been in "a lot of pain" and had recently written him a letter that had a "despondent tone." The former "Growing Pains" actor suffered from depression but stopped taking medication about a year before his death.
In statements to Us Weekly, Kirk Cameron and Tracey Gold remembered their late co-star. Cameron said he was saddened to hear "the final outcome of the search" for his "old friend Andrew" and he offered prayers to the Koenig family. Gold also said her heart was "broken" by the sad news.
If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Gordon Jump died of pulmonary fibrosis in 2003
While he was best known for his role as radio station manager Arthur "Big Guy" Carlson on the ’70s sitcom "WKRP in Cincinnati" and its short-lived 1990s reboot, Gordon Jump was a beloved character actor known for playing the Maytag repairman in a series of commercials. He was also known for his recurring roles on a long list of popular TV shows including "The Brady Bunch," "The Partridge Family," Good Times," "The Golden Girls," "Who’s the Boss," and "Growing Pains." Jump played Maggie Seaver’s dad, Ed Malone, for 11 episodes of the ABC comedy, per IMDb. He first turned up in the 1986 episode, "Be a Man."
Jump passed away on September 22, 2003, at his Los Angeles home. The actor’s cousin, Katherine Jump Wagner, told the Associated Press (via Tulsa World) that he suffered from pulmonary fibrosis, and that he was under hospice care at his home southeast of Los Angeles when he died from the lung ailment.
Robert Rockwell also passed away in 2003
On "Growing Pains," Robert Rockwell played Wally Overmeir, the second husband of Jason Seaver’s mother, Irma (Jane Powell). Rockwell appeared in eight episodes of the sitcom from 1988 to 1990, starting with the episode "Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner," according to IMDb.
The actor, who was probably most famous for his role as biology teacher Mr. Boynton in the 1950s TV comedy "Our Miss Brooks," passed away in 2003. Rockwell died of cancer at his home in Malibu, California, on January 25, 2003, according to the Chicago Tribune. He was 82 years old and was surrounded by his wife of 60 years, Elizabeth, and other loved ones, according to an obituary posted by Legacy.com.
In addition to "Growing Pains" and "Our Miss Brooks," Rockwell racked up more than 350 acting credits over his five-decade-plus career on shows that included "Perry Mason," "Lassie," and "Diff’rent Strokes." Rockwell’s final appearance on "Growing Pains," which was on the 1990 episode "Divorce Story," was one of his final roles. He logged just four more credits before ending his career in 1995.
Veteran actress Kathleen Freeman died of cancer in 2001
Kathleen Freeman did not have a regular role on "Growing Pains," but the veteran character actress appeared in five episodes of the series, playing characters named Madge, Marge, Estelle, and Sophie, as noted on IMDb. Fans may best recall Freeman as Marge, the nurse who checked Maggie Seaver into the hospital when she went into labor to deliver daughter Chrissy in the 1988 episode "Birth of a Seaver."
Given Freeman’s Hollywood resume, it would be hard not to recognize her. She spent her entire life in show business and worked up until her death. She appeared in "Wagon Train," "The Lucy Show," ‘The Beverly Hillbillies" and more shows before landing a starring role in the 1973 Dom DeLuise sitcom "Lotsa Luck." The prolific actress appeared in 10 Jerry Lewis movies and closed out her TV career with a voice role as Mrs. Gordon in the Nickelodeon series "As Told By Ginger." Freeman gave her final performance in the hit Broadway musical "The Full Monty" just one week before her death, per The Washington Post. Freeman died of cancer on August 23, 2001, at age 82.