Growing Pains star Alan Thicke, who died on December 13 after a sudden heart attack at age 69, wasn’t just an actor. During the early part of his career in Hollywood, the Canadian-born actor dabbled in songwriting. His skills came at the right time for television, during a generation when themesongs still mattered. Thicke co-wrote a handful of popular themesongs, including the songs that opened both Diff’rent Strokes and its spin-off, The Facts of Life.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Thicke said he learned how to be a versatile performer during the 1960s, when he was an actor at the Canadian Broadcast Corp.
“One week you may be an actor, and the next week you had to be nimble enough to be a TV host,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “And the week after that you might have to do some stand-up, or be in an improv company, or write and sing a song somewhere.”
That versatility came in handy when he moved to Hollywood and his knack for writing catchy tunes helped out.
Here’s a look at the themes Thicke wrote for television.
The catchy themesong for Diff’rent Strokes was written by Thicke with his first wife, singer/actress Gloria Loring, and Al Burton. Burton was a frequent collaborator with Thicke and also wrote the themesongs for The New Lassie and Charles in Charge. Burton also created Win Ben Stein’s Money, which earned him a Daytime Emmy in 1999.
The Facts of Life
The Facts of Life‘s theme song was written by the same team behind the Diff’rent Strokes theme. This time, Loring sang the song. Thicke and Loring, who starred on Days of Our Lives, were married from 1970 to 1984 and had two children, Robin and Brennan.
The Joker’s Wild
The Joker’s Wild was a gameshow that started in 1972 and ran until 1991. Thicke wrote the catchy theme song that you can try to whistle along to.
Thicke wrote the themesong to the short-lived series Hello, Larry, which starred McLean Stevenson as a divorced father of two teenage daughters who also hosts a call-in psychology radio show. It ran for two seasons from 1979 to 1980.
The Wizard of Odds
The Wizard of Odds, a show hosted by Alex Trebek before he moved to Jeopardy!, featured a song that Thicke not only wrote, but also sang. Now we know that Robin Thicke’s singing was inherited from both of his parents.
Other Gameshow Themes
Thicke wrote a number of other gameshow themes, including the original Wheel of Fotrune theme.
Below is Thicke’s theme for Celebrity Sweepstakes, which ran on NBC during the day from 1974 to 1976.
Thicke also wrote the theme for The Diamond Head Game, which only ran for a season in 1975. It was taped in Hawaii and contestants won cash and prizes.
Animal Crack-Ups ran from 1987-1990 and featured celebrities winning money to donate to their favorite animal charities. Thicke also hosted.
For more on Thicke’s life and career, click below: