Alan Thicke lived and died as a proud Canadian

TORONTO - As sad as it is, there’s nothing more apropos than a guy from Kirkland Lake dying with his skates on.


We all wish it didn’t happen, but even Alan Thicke would have enjoyed the bragging rights just the same.

Not that Alan Thicke bragged about anything.

He had plenty to brag about too. He’d written songs for TV shows, starred in his own talk show and sitcom, and had a long show business career.

He had friends in high places. Wayne Gretzky, Martin Short, Michael J. Fox. You name it, he was pals with them.

But he wanted to be an every man. And worked at just that. He had not an ounce of pretention.

What a gentleman. All class, all the time.

When I heard the news of his death, I think it hurt so much because he seems like a family member. Not because I knew him all that well, but because he made you felt special when he spoke with you. He’d look you in the eye, smile, ask a question about your life, and actually listen to the answer.

”Upon meeting him one instantly felt as if they were in the company of an old and trusted friend,” said Toronto producer Gene Mascardelli. “Alan Thicke’s success was to be found in the fact that his character was steeped in that of the everyman.”

It was thanks to Gene that I got to experience that first hand in 2003 when a bunch of us spent a couple days with the beloved TV dad from Growing Pains at the Taboo Resort in Muskoka.

“Upon inviting Alan to participate in the inaugural TIFF Celebrity Golf Classic at Taboo, he became completely involved putting the word out,” recalled Mascardelli. “He flew up early and made himself available to meet and greet other stars out front of the fabulous resort.”

It struck Gene right there just how loved Thicke was by both the stars and the bellmen alike.

“The remarkable thing was everyone knew him, not just by reputation, but they actually knew him and all were considered friends,” he said. “Alan was the quintessential Canadian that stole America’s heart. Everyone was drawn to him. Like few before him, especially in the Hollywood game, he was eternally likable and engaging.”

One night Gene, legendary Toronto entertainment reporter Gloria Martin, Terry Sylvester of The Hollies, and I were sitting with Alan talking about Canada.

“I love America too,” Alan told us. “I have been so fortunate to actually be privileged to live the life of being America’s guest. But through it all, I have always been Canadian. Canada is where my heart is.”

And Canadians appreciated this. Many on Wednesday were stopping by his star on Canada’s Walk of Fame at King St. and Simcoe to pay their respects and offer a pat on the back for a life well lived, which included countless acts of charity.

On the career front, Gloria told me she is not surprised Thicke was nominated for three Emmy Awards for playing Jason Seaver on Growing Pains because “there was a lot of Alan Thicke in Jason Seaver.”

Said Martin: “He was a self-effacing, hard-working, multi-talented guy who mined Hollywood for all it was worth as a host, producer, composer, actor and ,most important, a family man.”

Martin, herself an honorary member of Canada’s Walk of Fame for covering every induction ceremony and decades of entertainment reporting, said Thicke was proud to get that star. “He took pride not only in his accomplishments, but in being Canadian.”

Alan Thicke will be remembered for so much — including dying like a proud Canadian while playing hockey.

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