Alan Thicke is best known for playing the kindly dad in "Growing Pains," but he has had a long and interesting career including a short lived talk show, composing sitcom theme songs, and being the real life dad of singer Robin Thicke. The genial 65 year old chatted with FOX411 about his work, what he thinks about "Growing Pains" co-star Kirk Cameron, and his recipe for success.
FOX411: You’re in the new Adam Sandler movie "That’s My Boy."
Alan Thicke: I am in the movie but I’m only in for literally 30 seconds. I made the mistake of doing some press for it that I had a cameo and then I find out I’m not really in it at all. It’s pretty hilarious. I did the press before I saw the movie. I didn’t realize how scant my part was.
FOX411: Were you embarrassed?
Alan Thicke: No, no, not a bit. I’ve had people ask me, ‘How come you do so many cameos?’ I say, ‘Well, my fee is $10 million or I’ll do a cameo for scale. So you can have me for the big part or I’ll just walk through for a day and stop at craft services. What do you want?’
FOX411: You’re also the composer of two of the greatest T.V. theme songs of all time, ‘Diff’rent Strokes,’ and ‘The Facts of Life.’
Alan Thicke: It’s nice that all these years later I get the occasional $1.89 royalty check from Ringtones. Apparently what happens is college kids get together and play Beer Pong and get just juiced enough that they bet each other who can remember more of their parents’ sitcom lyrics so they call Ringtones, they order it and listen and I get $1.89.
The other thing that’s flattering is I’ve heard the lyrics quoted as part of a sketch or sitcom. A couple of months ago S.N.L did a sketch citing the lyrics as if they were scripture. But I don’t get my $1.89 for that.
FOX411: Did you feel typecast from ‘Growing Pains?’
Alan Thicke: Not particularly. In fact there were times when people would say they wanted to cast me as the murderer or the bad guy just to play against that. If anything were to go on my stone next week God forbid, I’m sure it would be ‘Growing Pains’ and I’m perfectly fine with that. I was proud of the show and its family values.
FOX411: Didn’t you advise Kirk Cameron to quit Hollywood?
Alan Thicke: What I said was, very sincerely, “If you’re seriously disturbed by a show like ‘Growing Pains’ being blue then I think you’re not going to find a gentler vehicle on network T.V. for your beliefs, and what you should do is take the wonderful fan base which you have, and take your fan base to Christian broadcasting where you don’t have to fight with the people you disagree with." And all these years later I think that’s exactly what he’s done.
The level of adulation he had, the attention he received, it’s not normal. I think as a result of it he wanted to be protected, even isolated, so that became his solace and comfort and from that point of view it was understandable. Of all the things that can happen to a child star and the different paths they can take this would be the most positive – to find religion.
FOX411: What did you think about Cameron's recent comments on homosexuality?
Alan Thicke: It bothers me to the extent that I’m happy to be living in your wonderful country. [Thicke is Canadian.] I appreciate the freedom of speech. I salute and support his ability to explain himself as he wishes however I don’t share his views. We had a little Twitter was recently. He was on Piers Morgan and I twittered that I love Kirk but I want to spank him and not in a gay way. That was my way of saying, I respect your opinion but I don’t agree with it.
Maybe he’ll change, not that I believe that. Most evangelicals are pretty committed to their positions. I was somewhat surprised and shocked at the vitriol that exists out there in the social media world over religion or certain stances that people take in the name of religion on both sides. The LGBT community was every bit as strident as the evangelicals. As a fly on the wall in the middle I was surprised. I found it kind of disturbing.
FOX411: You must be very proud of your son Robin.
Alan Thicke: Yeah well he’s been at it for a long time. We love it around here. I always knew he had some interesting and special entertaining qualities ever since he hit puberty. I think it was only a question of what he would do with it. I have another son now who’s 14 who has similar great qualities in his personality and I try to encourage him to consider any path he chooses because I think his personality will be a winner in whatever he does. I think personality, good values, communication skills and respect for others, those kinds of values carry you a long way in whatever field you choose.
FOX411: You had a short lived talk show.
Alan Thicke: When it was cancelled it was like a mercy killing. It was tough doing it (while it was failing). It was embarrassing at the time to pick up a paper and see my picture. I knew there’d be some horrible caption. My kids thought our middle name was "ill-fated."
FOX411: Speaking of entertaining and special qualities, it seems that your sons inherited them from you.
Alan Thicke: I have some realistic humility which comes from my first career as a writer. I wrote for other people for ten years. I saw some incredible egos not based on any reality. They were great when they were on top and awful when they weren’t. I learned a lot about how to treat people.