The AV Club’s Nathan Rabin finally got around to a “random roles” with Alan Thicke. Even though I wish the interview was longer, it does give a good summary of how packed his résumé is. In addition to fathering Robin Thicke and making several divorce lawyers happy (“One of my wives was a soap star”), Mr. Thicke:
– Served as a writer for Norman Lear’s semi-legendary spoof of talk shows, Fernwood 2 Night (which was supposed to be completely improvised by its stars, Fred Willard and Martin Mull; but as he explains, pure improv doesn’t work on TV — and no, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” isn’t pure improv)
– Wrote the theme songs for “Diff’rent Strokes” and “The Facts of Life” (allowing him to, quite rightly, lament the disappearance of cool theme songs with lyrics)
– Hosted a late-night talk show that tried to take on Carson
– Starred in a hit network sitcom and managed to avoid throttling Kirk Cameron for seven years
– Spoofed himself on more shows than you can name, including “How I Met Your Mother,” which uses him as its resident Canadian Celebrity
And more. Read the whole thing. Unfortunately he does not talk about the most important question: why The Facts of Life theme song was so heavily revised, musically and lyrically, after the first season. Which version is closer to his original, ideal vision? Now we’ll never know.