Leave it to the Seavers. It's been 35 years since one of America's favorite families appeared on the small screen in "Growing Pains." The hit sitcom, which ran for seven season in the late 1980s and early 1990s, was one of the most watched shows at the time. It also made the nation fall in love with stars Alan Thicke — who passed away four years ago on Dec. 13, 2016 — Joanna Kerns, Kirk Cameron, Tracey Gold, Jeremy Miller and even a young Leonardo DiCaprio. Join Wonderwall.com as we find out what's happened to its stars…
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"Growing Pains" follows psychiatrist Jason Seaver as he moves his practice to a home office and learns to take care of their three children when his journalist wife, Maggie, returns to her career. The family eventually expands to four kids, plus a homeless teen the Seavers take in. Over 166 episodes, millions of viewers tuned in every week between 1985 and 1992 to catch the latest drama at 15 Robin Hood Lane. The show also launched a spinoff series and two made-for-TV reunion films in the early 2000s. Thirty-five years later, there's no doubt the Seavers are still one of TV's most beloved families.
The patriarch of the Seaver Family, Dr. Jason Seaver, was played by Alan Thicke. The psychiatrist starts off the show getting used to life working from home for the first time and taking care of the family's three kids as his wife returns to work. For Jason, it's a constant balancing act handling both the issues of his patients as well as those of his children.
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Prior to taking on "Growing Pains," Alan Thicke had a well-established yet eclectic career in television. The Canadian star started out hosting the game show "First Impressions" in the late 1970s and writing and producing the late night talk show "Fernwood 2 Nite." In 1980, Alan got his own Canadian daytime talk show, aptly titled "The Alan Thicke Show," which ran from 1980 to 1983. He left the program to launch a late night talk show in the States, "Thicke of the Night," which only lasted one season. Only a year later, Alan landed "Growing Pains." While doing the comedy series, he also hosted the Disney Christmas Parade from 1983 to 1990 as well as the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants in 1988. The actor also had success as a theme song composer, co-writing the opening tunes to popular sitcoms like "Diff'rent Strokes" and "The Facts of Life." When "Growing Pains" came to an end, Alan starred on the short-lived comedy series "Hope & Gloria" in 1995 and then had a guest arc on "Married… with Children." He then hosted game shows like "Pictionary" and "Animal Miracles." Alan also made numerous guest appearances on shows like "Just Shoot Me!," "Joey," "The Bold and the Beautiful," "JPod," "How I Met Your Mother," "The L.A. Complex," "Scream Queens," "Grandfathered" and "This Is Us." In 2014, he starred on the mockumentary series "Unusually Thicke." The star also wrote two self-help books and started the Alan Thicke Center for diabetes research. He was married to actress Gloria Loring — with whom he had two sons (including singer Robin Thicke) — from 1970 to 1984. He was then married to former Miss World Gina Tolleson from 1994 to 1999; the couple had one son. He wed third wife Tanya Callau in 2005. Alan died in December 2016 at 69 from a ruptured aorta while playing ice hockey with his youngest son.
Joanna Kerns played family matriarch Maggie Seaver. When the show starts, Maggie is leaving her husband at home for the first time since having kids to return to her career as a television news reporter. She has to help Jason adjust to their new life while still assisting in handling the chaos and drama caused by their ever-growing family.
Joanna Kerns started out as a dancer before pursuing acting in the mid-1970s. It didn't take long for the actress to book guest parts on hit shows like "Starsky & Hutch," "Charlie's Angels," "CHiPs," "The A-Team," "Laverne and Shirley," "Three's Company," "Hill Street Blues," "The Love Boat" and "Magnum P.I." before landing her first lead role on the 1983 series "The Four Seasons." The sitcom only lasted for one season, but the San Francisco native booked "Growing Pains" shortly after. While doing the hit comedy series, Joanna also appeared in a steady run of TV movies including 1985's "Stormin' Home," 1987's "Mistress," 1989's "Street Justice," 1990's "The Great Los Angeles Earthquake" and 1992's "The Nightman." She spent the rest of the '90s continuing to make TV movies, adding 1995's "Whose Daughter Is She?," 1996's "Terror in the Family," 1998's "Emma's Wish" and the two "Growing Pains" reunion films to her resume. After that, Joanna moved into a career behind the camera, directing episodes for countless TV shows like "Dawson's Creek," "Scrubs," "Private Practice," "Psych," "Felicity," "Grey's Anatomy," "ER," "Ghost Whisperer," "Pretty Little Liars," "Switched at Birth," "The Goldbergs," "This Is Us" and "Fuller House." Joanna was married to commercial producer Richard Kerns from 1976 to 1985 and architect Marc Appleton from 1994 to 2019. She and Richard have one daughter.
Kirk Cameron starred as Mike Seaver, the eldest of the Seaver children. Born with a one-track mind, Mike often chooses his love for the ladies over doing well in school or keeping out of trouble. Despite being a constant headache for his parents, good-natured Mike quickly became one of TV's leading teen heartthrobs in the 1980s.
Kirk Cameron started his acting career at 9 with gigs in commercials, TV movies and TV guest parts before landing "Growing Pains" at 15. The Southern California native skyrocketed to fame with the hit sitcom, earned two Golden Globe nominations and landed on the cover of countless teen magazines. Kirk also starred in the films "The Best of Times" in 1986, "Like Father Like Son" in 1987 and "Listen to Me" in 1989. He converted to Protestant Christianity while doing the show and took time away from Hollywood when it finished in 1992. He starred on the short-lived TV comedy "Kirk" in 1995 as well as the Disney TV movies "The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes" and "You Lucky Dog" around the same time. Outside of the two "Growing Pains" films in 2000 and 2004, Kirk has only pursued faith-based programming, like the "Left Behind" trilogy, 2008's "Fireproof" and 2014's "Saving Christmas." In 2002, he co-founded the Christian evangelism ministry The Way of the Master, through which he's hosted a talk show and started a family summer camp. Acting has been on the back burner for Kirk, who's instead focused on his ministry. He fell for his wife, actress Chelsea Noble, on the set of "Growing Pains" when she played his character's love interest during the show's final three seasons. The pair married in 1991 and had six children, four of whom are adopted.
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Tracey Gold played booksmart teen Carol Seaver who, unlike her brothers, cares about her studies more than anything else in her life. The honor student eventually comes to realize there's more to happiness than good grades as her love life also begins to flourish.
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Tracey Gold, who kicked off her career in a Pepsi commercial, had a very busy run as a child actress. The New York City native (whose younger sister, Missy Gold, found fame as a child star on "Benson") appeared in the 1982 film "Shoot the Moon" and TV shows like "Roots," "Quincy, M.E.," "Eight Is Enough," "CHiPs," "Fantasy Island," "Shirley" and "Goodnight, Beantown" before landing "Growing Pains." But Tracey wasn't the original choice to play Carol: She replaced the first actress after she failed to test well. While working on the hit series, Tracey filmed a number of TV movies, something she would continue doing in the years after the show finished. These include 1994's "For the Love of Nancy," 1995's "Lady Killer," 1996's "Face of Evil" and 1998's "Dirty Little Secret." Tracey took part in the two "Growing Pains" reunion films and has since continued to work steadily in television movies like 2001's "She's No Angel," 2005's "Captive Hearts," 2007's "Final Approach," 2012's "Arachnoquake" and 2016's "I Know Where Lizzie Is." She married Roby Marshall in 1994; they have four children. The actress has been outspoken about her battle with anorexia, which reached its peak while filming "Growing Pains."
Jeremy Miller portrayed rambunctious Ben Seaver, the youngest of the Seaver children when the show started. Ben often fights for the attention of his family members and causes a scene while doing so. As he grows older, Ben has to deal with the fact that his parents have another child and he can no longer claim the role as the baby of the household.
Jeremy Miller only had some commercials and an episode of "Punky Brewster" to his name before joining "Growing Pains." While doing the show, he also lent his voice to Linus in a number of TV movies and shows about the famed Peanuts gang. Following his run on the comedy series, the Southern California-born actor had a guest arc on the children's series "Ghostwriter" and then took time away to attend both the University of Southern California and the Culinary Arts program at Le Cordon Bleu, although he didn't finish either. Jeremy starred in the two "Growing Pains" reunion films, started the catering company No Small Affair and freelanced as a chef for multiple Los Angeles-based catering companies. He's also continued acting, appearing in indies like 2007's "Milk and Fashion," 2009's "Never Have I Ever" and 2010's "Ditching Party." In 2020, Jeremy starred on the digital series "The Quarantine Bunch" on YouTube. The actor has been open about his battle with alcoholism, an issue that started when he was still a child in Hollywood. He's married to actress Joanie Miller.
In one of his earliest roles, Leonardo DiCaprio joined the Seaver family on the show's final season as Luke Brower, a homeless student Mike meets and invites to live with his family. Mike is drawn to Luke because he reminds him of himself when he was young.
Prior to "Growing Pains," Leonardo DiCaprio had only appeared in TV shows like "The New Lassie," "Roseanne," "Parenthood" and the direct-to-video horror flick "Critters 3." The Los Angeles native quickly followed the sitcom with parts in acclaimed 1993 dramas "This Boy's Life" and "What's Eating Gilbert Grape," the latter of which earned him his first Oscar nomination. Next came 1995's "The Basketball Diaries" and "Total Eclipse" and the 1996 hits "Romeo + Juliet" and "Marvin's Room." It was 1997's "Titanic" that turned Leo into a household name, earning him a Golden Globe nomination as it became the highest grossing film ever made at the time. In the midst of Leo-mania, which found the star on the cover of every teen magazine in the world, Leonardo struggled for a bit to find another hit, making flops like 1998's "The Man in the Iron Mask" and 2000's "The Beach." However, things changed for the better with the 2002 hits "Catch Me If You Can" and "Gangs of New York." He then formed Appian Way Productions and starred in the 2004 biopic "The Aviator," which garnered him another Oscar nomination. The winning streak continued with the 2006 dramas "The Departed" and "Blood Diamond," the latter of which earned him an additional Oscar nomination. Next came the 2010 hits "Shutter Island" and "Inception," the 2011 biopic "J. Edgar," 2012's "Django Unchained" and 2013's "The Great Gatsby" and "The Wolf of Wall Street." "Wolf" earned Leo a Golden Globe Award as well as an Oscar nomination. By this point, there was no doubting the actor's status as one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood. His turn in 2015's "The Revenant" received massive acclaim and finally earned Leo his first Academy Award after years of nominations. More recently, he starred in the 2019 hit "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" opposite Brad Pitt, racking up an additional Oscar nomination. Leo has also had an extensive career as a producer, with credits including the films "The Ides of March," "Robin Hood" and "Richard Jewell" plus environmental documentaries such as "Catching the Sun," "The Ivory Game" and "Before the Flood." The star is also well-known for his activism: In 1998, he established the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, a non-profit that promotes environmental awareness. He's sat on the board of the World Wildlife Fund, Global Green USA and the International Fund for Animal Welfare. Never married, Hollywood's favorite bachelor has had highly publicized relationships with models like Gisele Bundchen, Bar Refaeli, Toni Garrn, Nina Agdal and Kelly Rohrbach and famously dated actress Blake Lively. Leo has been dating actress Camila Morrone since 2017.
The fourth Seaver child, Chrissy, arrived during season 5. After spending one season as a baby, the character of Chrissy was aged up a few years for the final two seasons and was played by Ashley Johnson. The lovable addition often seeks advice from her older siblings as she navigates childhood.
"Growing Pains" served as Ashley's Johnson's first role: She joined the show when we was just 6. When the sitcom ended, the Southern California-born actress took parts in short-lived series like "Phenom," "All-American Girl" and "Maybe This Time," lent her voice to animated shows like "Jumanji" and "Recess" and appeared in movies such as 1999's "Anywhere but Here" and 2000's "What Women Want." Since appearing in the two "Growing Pains" reunion films, Ashley has worked steadily in television with parts on shows like "Ally McBeal," "Roswell," "Married to the Kellys," "Monk," "CSI," "Dirt," "Dollhouse," "Cold Case," "Private Practice" and "Masters of Sex." She also had voice parts on "King of the Hill," "Teen Titans," "Ben 10" and "Pound Puppies" and popped up in hit films "The Avengers" and "The Help." More recently, she was a main cast member on the drama series "Blindspot" and a voice actress in "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and "Infinity Train." Ashley's also lent her voice to more than a dozen video games.