Stars From Growing Pains You Didn't Know Died

"As long as we got each other, we've got the world spinnin' right in our hands!" There was no TV family quite as wholesome — or quite as real — as the Seavers on "Growing Pains." Led by the patriarchal Dr. Jason Seaver (Alan Thicke), a work-from-home psychiatrist, and his wife Maggie (Joanna Kerns), a roving reporter, the show highlighted the family's struggles as their kids Mike (Kirk Cameron), Carol (Tracey Gold), Ben (Jeremy Miller) — and later, stray kid Luke Bower (played by none other than Leonardo DiCaprio)— navigated adolescence.

The ABC sitcom ran for seven seasons from 1985 to 1992, scoring three Golden Globe nominations and two Emmys throughout its run. The series even spawned its own spin-off, "Just the Ten of Us," following gym teacher Coach Lubbock, his wife, and their eight kids. After two reunion films in the 2000s — "The Growing Pains Movie" and "Growing Pains: Return of the Seavers" — it's safe to say America will always have an emotional attachment to their favorite family.

While the cast members have gone their separate ways over the years, they'll always cherish the show's legacy. "I believe that we've all had pop cultural influences like that growing up," Alan Thicke told Vox in 2016. "I'm proud to be part of somebody's growth, somebody's memory of nights at home watching TV."

And much like the series taught us, life has a way of moving around us in ways both good and bad. These are stars from "Growing Pains" you didn't know died.

Alan Thicke

There would be no "Growing Pains" without Alan Thicke. Much of the show's humor and heart stemmed from his character Dr. Jason Seaver's attempts to raise his troublesome kids. Even after the series' end, the character remained close to Thicke's heart. "Jason Seaver was the kind of parent that I would aspire to be if I had 12 writers following me around, and I like that there's a whole generation of people that still come up to me and say, 'You raised me. You're my dad, I grew up on you,'" Thicke told Vox in 2016.

Apart from "Growing Pains," the Canadian-born actor had quite the career. He composed music for fellow sitcoms "The Facts of Life" and "Diff'rent Strokes" in addition to regular acting spots on "The Bold and the Beautiful," "JPod," and "Hope & Gloria." Thicke was also a successful writer, even hosting his own variety show in the '80s.

Hollywood sadly lost a bright light in December 2016 when Alan Thicke died of a heart attack. Thicke collapsed while he and his youngest son, Carter, were playing hockey. The actor's death certificate revealed he had passed from a "ruptured aorta" and "standard type A aortic dissection," per People.

Thicke's older son, singer Robin Thicke, told the Los Angeles Times that his father was "the greatest man [he] ever met." Carter wrote, "I am forever grateful for the light that this man brought to my life and so many others," in a heartfelt tribute on Instagram.

Andrew Koenig

Andrew Koenig brought spunk to his role as Richard "Boner" Stabone, Mike Seaver's best friend on "Growing Pains." In addition to his 25 episodes on the beloved sitcom, Koenig also lent his voice to the animated "G.I. Joe" series and made appearances on "Star Trek" and "My Two Dads."

In February 2010, Koenig was reported missing by his family after missing his flight to Los Angeles from Vancouver, according to CNN. Nearly two weeks later, his body was on a search mission in Stanley Park and his father confirmed that his "son took his own life." The outlet reported that Koenig had been receiving treatment for his depression but had stopped taking his medication about a year before his passing. "He was obviously in a lot of pain," his father said, adding, "If you can learn anything from this, there are people out there who really care."

Koenig was remembered fondly by his "Growing Pains" co-stars, with actor Kirk Cameron telling Us Weekly, "It is with great sorrow to hear about the final outcome of the search for my old friend Andrew. ... My prayers will continue to be with Andrew's family." Tracey Gold told the outlet, "My heart is broken for Andrew's family. I have such great memories of Andrew and our time together on 'Growing Pains.'"

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

Gordon Jump brought humor and humility to Maggie Seaver's father Ed Malone in 11 episodes of "Growing Pains" over the years. His last appearance on the show was in the Season 7 episode "Home Malone," when the Seavers visit Maggie's mother after Ed's passing to prepare the home for sale and relive their fondest family memories.

Although Jump was a highlight on the show, and in series including "WKRP in Cincinnati," "Get Smart," and "The Partridge Family," one of his biggest claims to fame was as the Maytag repair man in a series of commercials that started in 1989. Jump reprised the character up until July 2003, when he retired.

In September 2003, Jump passed away at 71 years old due to pulmonary fibrosis, according to his cousin (via Tulsa World). Jump died at home in California receiving hospice care. Maytag Corp. chairman and chief executive officer Ralph Hake remembered Gordon Jump as "an incredibly talented actor and a remarkable human being" in a statement after his passing.

Robert Rockwell

In the Season 4 episode "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?," Jason Seaver is introduced to his mom's second husband, whom she met on a three-week cruise to Mexico, and he's less than enthused to be welcoming a new man to the family. Thankfully, for the Seaver family — and actor Robert Rockwell, who portrays Wally Overmier — Jason eventually comes around. Rockwell would go on to portray the character for eight episodes from Season 4 until the series' close.

The show was hardly Rockwell's introduction to show business; he was best known as the dreamy Mr. Boynton on '50s sitcom "Our Miss Brooks." He worked for Republic Pictures as a contract player, and he has over 350 television credits to his name, including "Days of Our Lives," "Diff'rent Strokes," "Perry Mason," and "Beverly Hills, 90210."

In January 2003, Rockwell died at 82 years of age due to cancer. His wife shared that he passed "surrounded by relatives at his Malibu home," per The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Kathleen Freeman

Iconic character actor Kathleen Freeman portrayed a variety of characters throughout "Growing Pains'" run, including waitress Sophie, as well as Marge in "Birth of a Seaver." Eagle-eyed fans will remember her as the nurse who checked Maggie into the hospital before she gave birth to Chrissy, the youngest of the Seaver bunch.

Although her roles on the show were small, Freeman's passion for acting was larger than life. She appeared in the seminal musical "Singin' in the Rain," as well as series including "The Dick Van Dyke Show," "Hogan's Heroes," "The Golden Girls," "Murphy Brown," and "Married... With Children." 

According to The Washington Post, her trademark characters were "Big, brash, and funny," and she made a career out of playing "recalcitrant maids, demented nuns, mouthy housekeepers, battle-ax mothers, irate landladies and nosy neighbors." In August 2001, Freeman died at the age of 82 from lung cancer. She never gave up on her passion, taking on the role of "a sassy piano player" in Broadway's "The Full Monty" — which earned her a Tony Award nod for best featured actress in a musical — and giving her last performance a week before her passing.

Jane Powell

Jane Powell brought gusto and heart to "Growing Pains" as Jason Seaver's mother Irma from her first appearance in Season 4's "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" up until Season 6's "Divorce Story." Her relationship forces the show's central patriarch to do some growing up of his own, especially when his mom announces she's getting a divorce from her second husband, Wally Overmier (Robert Rockwell), whom Jason never quite warmed up to.

Outside of "Growing Pains," Powell had quite the onscreen legacy. She was "the star of some of Hollywood's best loved Golden Age musicals," per CNN, including "A Date With Judy," "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," and "Royal Wedding" with Fred Astaire. Show business was in this singer, actor, and dancer's blood; she began performing in theater and radio at 5 years old before her first film appearance at 15 in 1944's "Song of the Open Road."

Powell was married to fellow former child actor Dickie Moore for 28 years before his passing in 2015, according to CT Post, and she was grateful for both her family and career, even though she largely gave up acting in the 2000s. "I never felt I was really there anyway," she told the outlet. "I always pictured myself as a fly who was up in the corner looking down at myself." In September 2021, Powell died at 92 in her Connecticut home from natural causes (via CNN).

Bill Erwin

Character actor Bill Erwin took on a handful of roles in eight episodes throughout "Growing Pains'" run, including the lovable janitor in the dramatic two-part school dance episode "Dance Fever," and Buzz, the hilariously unskilled plumber who took five hours to finish the job, in "The Anniversary That Never Was."

Outside of the series, Erwin was best known for portraying Sid Fields in "Seinfeld" episode "The Old Man." Erwin played the ill-tempered senior citizen that Jerry Seinfeld was in charge of looking after — and subsequently lost. The role scored Erwin an Emmys nod in 1993 for outstanding guest actor in a comedy series. He also starred in 1980's "Somewhere in Time" alongside Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, and made appearances in countless series, including "The Twilight Zone," "Gunsmoke," "The Waltons," "Everwood," "My Name is Earl," "The West Wing," "Who's the Boss," and "Married... With Children." Always the jokester, one of his most memorable appearances was in a Dreyer's Ice Cream commercial where he hopped up from his recliner and break-danced when his wife said "Dessert's ready!" (via The Hollywood Reporter).

In 2011, Erwin passed away from "age-related causes," per THR, at 96 years old, leaving behind four kids who had all followed in his footsteps in the entertainment industry.

Jerry Vale

Legendary crooner Jerry Vale, born Gennaro Louis Vitaliano, portrayed himself in three episodes of "Growing Pains," starting with Season 5's "Weekend at Mike's," when Jason's mom Irma is unable to house the family after a termite infestation because she's hosting a meeting for the Jerry Vale Fan Club.

The Bronx-born musician rose to fame during the '50s and '60s with such ballads as "You Don't Know Me" and "Have You Looked into Your Heart," and his affinity for his Italian heritage led to appearances as himself in "Goodfellas," "Casino," "The Sopranos," and "Who's the Boss." Jerry Vale was even a character in Martin Scorsese's 2019 epic "The Irishman," with Steven Van Zandt portraying him. Vale's love for music was long-lasting — and his fans stayed with him, too. "I have people coming to see me for 30, 40 years," he told "We sell out every place we go practically. We must be doing something right."

In May 2014, Vale was 83 when he died at his Palm Desert, California, residence (per The Washington Post). Vale "reportedly had suffered a stroke more than a decade" before his passing.

Maxine Elliott Hicks

Maxine Elliott Hicks appeared in three episodes of "Growing Pains," once playing Winnie, a customer at the convenience store Mike Seaver works at in Season 4's "Fortunate Son." She was credited as "Elderly Woman" in two other episodes. Hicks' onscreen legacy, however, dates back long before the beloved sitcom was on the air.

According to AP News, Hicks starred in over 200 silent films. Decades later, she appeared in the movies "Beethoven" and "Defending Your Life," and she was a guest on sitcoms like "All in the Family," "The Jeffersons," "Designing Women," and "Frasier." Her expansive Hollywood career did not come without its controversies, though. In the 1930s, Hicks' mother got into a fight with Warner Bros. head honcho Jack Warner. Though Maxine Elliott Hicks had found her spot in the move from silent films to "talkies," she left the industry over the disagreement. Hicks eventually returned to the screen in her 80s and went on to star as Sister Ethel in the "Growing Pains" spin-off "Just the Ten of Us."

In January 2000, Hicks died at age 95, per AP News. While her cause of death was not publicly announced, she left behind an irreplaceable legacy — and she enjoyed the ride. "I had a great time," she said of her acting career shortly before her passing. "I loved every minute of it."

Dawn Wells

In the Season 3 episode "Broadway Bound," Mike Seaver and his friend Monica get a little big for their britches after they score roles in their high school's production of "Our Town." Thinking they've got what it takes to take on show biz, they head to Broadway to audition for the same production... only to realize they might not be ready for the real deal. Dawn Wells portrayed the casting receptionist they meet at the audition, as well as the overbearing, if not slightly flirtatious, super mom Myrtle Deforest in the Season 2 episode "Carnival."

However, the TV legend will always be best remembered for her role as farm girl Mary Ann Summers in "Gilligan's Island." "It was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life," she told Palm Beach Post (via USA Today) about the show in March 2020. "We all knew how special it was at the time." Before her turn on the small screen, Wells was a pageant queen, competing as Miss Nevada in the 1959 Miss America pageant, per USA Today.

In December 2020, Wells died at 82 years old from COVID-19 complications, and a representative for Wells' estate told the outlet that she "passed peacefully ... in no pain."

Carmen Filpi

Carmen Filpi brought love and laughs to his role as Fred, a quirky homeless man, in "Growing Pains" episodes "The Recruiter" and "Five Grand." The former episode found him pretending to be Jason Seaver after Mike pays him to deceive a recruiter from Boston College. When the parents return and the jig is up, Fred pretends to be the recruiter.

Vagrants, quirky old men, and comedic roles were something of Filpi's specialty. He made hilarious appearances on "Sister, Sister," "Boy Meets World," and "Sabrina the Teenage Witch," and he was the memorable Old Man in the Bar in the Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore comedy "The Wedding Singer." While he may have cracked us up as Old Man Withers in the hilarious "Wayne's World" ending, he certainly gave us a scare as Rev. Jackson Sayer in 1988's "Halloween 4."

According to his obituary, Filpi died at the age of 80 in May 2003 from "cancer-related illnesses," and was laid to rest in his hometown of Pittsfield, Massachusetts.