Ice Network

Late actor Thicke held passion for winter sports

Longtime entertainer was passionate hockey player, friend to skaters
  • Ice Network on Facebook
  • Ice Network on Twitter
Former 'Growing Pains' sitcom star Alan Thicke enjoyed being on the ice and was an avid hockey player. -Getty Images

Perhaps best known for his role as Dr. Jason Seaver on the iconic sitcom Growing Pains, Alan Thicke was also a singer, composer, writer, host and -- true to his Canadian roots -- a passionate recreational hockey player. He was playing hockey with his 19-year-old son Carter at Pickwick Ice in Burbank, California, on Tuesday when he suffered the heart attack that took his life.

"He was such a dear friend," said Trifun Zivanovic, a coach at Pickwick and longtime friend of Thicke's. "He was always so supportive of my skating and a big cheerleader. He watched me skate when I was competing and always encouraged me. He was a patron of Pickwick for many years and played in their hockey league and pick-up league."

Thicke was known to many in the Southern California skating community for his love of the ice. While he eschewed figure skates and stuck to hockey skates, he was involved in several skating projects and made nothing but positive impressions on those who met him.

Elizabeth Manley, who worked with Thicke on multiple charity shows, became close with the actor and visited with him often. When she lived and coached in Las Vegas, they'd get together when he was in town.

"When I was in Los Angeles, a couple of times I went over to his house," said Manley, now the head pro at the Granite Club at Toronto. "We were personally really good friends. He was such a nice guy."

Manley included Thicke in her television specials Dear Elizabeth and The Trial of Red Riding Hood, in which Thicke appeared as the wolf.

"To work with him was phenomenal," Manley said. "He was a true actor. He was professional and he was super fun. He had such a comical attitude that it was always a pleasure to work with him and be around him."

While hockey was his passion, Thicke had a great appreciation for figure skating, Manley said. Whenever she'd perform in Los Angeles, he would come to see the show.

"It was the Canadian in him," said Manley, who texted Thicke not long ago when she was giving a seminar in Kirkland Lake. "He had a passion for winter sports."

Sandra Bezic met Thicke when she was working on From the Heart, a televised benefit for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, which was held shortly after the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary.

Thicke, born in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, stayed committed to his Canadian roots, and Bezic described him as very generous, open and fun to work with.

"He was a rink rat," Bezic said. "I had great experiences with him."

Skating coach/actress Victoria Boa met Thicke when they both appeared on the sitcom How I Met Your Mother. Four actors with skating skills were cast for an ice rink scene with Neil Patrick Harris and Cobie Smulders.

"They wanted four of us actors to skate up to the stars and each one of us did some shtick," said Boa, who teaches at Pasadena Ice Skating Center and also teaches acting skills to skaters across Southern California. "Alan went right before I did. I didn't know he skated until I showed up on set (Pickwick) and we were warming up.

"He was such a nice man," she continued. "We were getting our makeup done and he had such a wonderful sense of humor. … As I was leaving the Pickwick, I said goodbye to him and he said, 'Nice skating with you.'"

Zivanovic said the loss of his friend was a shock from which he's still reeling. He and Thicke attended many Los Angeles Kings games together.

"Everybody loved him," Zivanovic said. "I'm going to miss him."