What Happened To Them?: The Cast of 'Growing Pains'
If you think about classic television shows from the 80’s, it’s tough to forget about Growing Pains. The show focused around the Seaver family, which included stay-at-home psychiatrist dad Jason Seaver (played by Alan Thicke), his wife Maggie (played by Joanna Kerns), and also some kids, including one played by a guy you’ve probably never heard of, named Kirk Cameron. A few of you might recognize the show as being one of the first acting jobs of the legendary Leonardo DiCaprio – while he had been on a few sitcoms prior to, his episode arc as Luke Brower made him very visible to tweens everywhere. (They were known as pre-teens back in the day.)
The show didn’t have a reunion show, like most shows in the 80’s did. They had TWO reunion shows, which were officially labeled as TV movies.
So – where’s the cast today?
Alan Thicke as Jason Seaver
Alan has quite a history of game show hosting. While he did a few Canadian shows before Growing Pains, he hosted a television version of the board game Pictionary in 1997, and in the early 2000’s, he hosted the remake of 3’s a Crowd on the Game Show Network. Surprisingly, he also composed a lot of theme songs for 80’s shows with the help of buddy Charlotte Rae, including The Facts of Life and Diff’rent Strokes.
In 2008, author Douglas Coupland decided to make a TV series around his book jPod, and cast Alan as character Jim Jarlewski. Unfortunately, the show didn’t have a chance to find its audience. Between 2007 and 2009, he had a role on The Bold And The Beautiful as (please, hold your laughter till the end of this sentence) “Rich Ginger”.
In 2012, Alan had the chance to be on a few episodes of the TV series The L.A. Complex, and most recently, he’s starred in two TV Movies – Camp Sunshine and Bad Management.
Alan Thicke has also starred in numerous projects as Alan Thicke. That is, he’s the type of presence to have random cameos and get instant recognition. Remember his involvement with Robin Sparkles on How I Met Your Mother?
Of course, he’s also the father of singer Robin Thicke – and he’s been supportive throughout all of the VMA hype. “I’m thrilled for him,” he said to US Weekly. “I’ve always dabbled in music. If I could have grown up to be Robin Thicke, I would have. But I’m glad somebody in the family did.”
Joanna Kerns as Maggie Seaver
Joanna is the queen of TV Movies – since 1992, she’s starred in fifteen of them. Prior to TV, Joanna was best known for dance and gymnastics. In fact, she competed in the Olympic trials in 1968 and ranked 14th out of 28.
These days, she’s more commonly found behind the camera. After getting to direct an episode of Growing Pains, she realized she had a passion for it. Some of the shows she’s directed include Dawson’s Creek, Scrubs, Grey’s Anatomy, ER, and Private Practice.
Jeremy Miller as Ben Seaver
Ben was the youngest son in the Seaver family, who went from cute kid to awkward-kid-with-a-mullet as the series progressed. But, hey. We’ve all made hair mistakes.
Here’s a not-so-fun fact about Jeremy: While he was on the show, he had an adult male stalker that used to send him some creepy and inappropriate fan mail. He also threatened to kill him. The production staff made sure to heighten security on the set to make sure he was safe. Thankfully, the stalker was caught by police and sent to jail.
Another not-so-fun fact: Jeremy had an issue with alcohol after the show wrapped. “I’m clean and sober now, and very happy about it,” he said in an interview with Yahoo! “It was 15 years of hard drinking. You know, using it as a numbing device to just push down personal issues. It wasn’t so much for me the industry stuff. Mine was personal stuff, family issues, step father issues … those kinds of things.”
His sobriety lead him to a gig with the Fresh Start Private recovery program, a leader in the alcohol treatment and rehabilitation industry, as a spokesperson.
Tracey Gold as Carol Seaver
Remember when I said Joanna Kerns was the TV Movie Queen? I take it back. Tracey Gold has been featured in well over 20 TV Movies since the end of Growing Pains. Joanna actually introduced Tracey to actor Roby Marshall, and the two ended up getting married in 1994. Today, Tracey and Roby have four sons together.
In 2003, Tracey wrote the book Room to Grow: An Appetite for Life with Julie McCarro. That year, she also starred in an episode of the TV show The Dead Zone. Last year, she appeared on the reality series Celebrity Wife Swap, trading places with singer Carnie Wilson for a week.
Tracey has had plenty of setbacks as well: In 2004, she received a lot of criticism (and rightfully so!) for rolling her SUV, carrying her husband and three of her sons, down a California freeway embankment while drunk. Sage, her oldest, was the only one injured, having a broken clavicle and a head laceration.
Shameful, girl. Hope you learned from that massive mistake.
Ashley Johnson as Chrissy Seaver
Chrissy was the youngest Seaver in the family – and as seasons progressed, she aged rapidly from toddler (played by twins Kristen and Kelsey Dohring) to six-year-old.
From 1997 to 2001, Ashley voiced Gretchen in the TV show Recess, and between 2004 and 2005 lent her voice to a show called Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! In 2008, she played Sharlee Cates on the TV series Dirt. She hasn’t shied away from voicing cartoons, as she’s also worked on King of the Hill, Ben 10, and Pound Puppies in recent years. You might have caught her in The Help and The Avengers as well.
Kirk Cameron as Mike Seaver
Before I go forward, let me share this sad picture of a Kirk Cameron birthday party.
After I saw that, I laughed for about three straight weeks. Moving forward.
In 2008, Kirk played Captain Caleb Holt in the drama Fireproof, which was one of the biggest independent releases that year. He was also the narrator and host of the documentary film Monumental: In Search of America’s National Treasure in 2012, which was in theaters for two months. While his resume hasn’t grown too much since the show ended, Kirk has been gaining notoriety for his religious beliefs instead.
When Kirk was 17, he became a born-again Christian, which made him a lot more critical of the Growing Pains story lines. Anything he felt was too adult or racy was immediately cut, which was said to cause a lot of creative headaches for the staff. After the series was cancelled, Cameron didn’t maintain contact with any of his former co-stars until they filmed the reunion specials. Recently, Kirk has partnered with Ray Comfort in the evangelical ministry The Way of the Master.
Last year, Cameron stated on Piers Morgan Tonight that “homosexuality is unnatural, detrimental and ultimately destructive to foundations of civilization”, which gained a lot of criticism on a national level, as well as a lot of backlash from celebrities including former sitcom family members Alan Thicke and Tracey Gold.
Winner: Since I’m not counting our man Leo, it has to be Alan Thicke. I mean, he calls himself “America’s Favorite Dad” on his own website. And it’s pretty amazing that he’s sticking by his son – in a somewhat genuine way – regardless of what everyone else might think.