In the wake of his shocking passing at 69, many tributes to Alan Thicke have focused on his role as the dad on Growing Pains.

Which is nice, but it sadly ignores what was a surreally diverse career in show business, with some of his most lasting achievements coming behind the scenes.

Let’s play Six Degrees of Thickeness.

1. Helped pioneer the fake talk show.
Thicke wrote for and produced Fernwood 2 Night, a parody talk show hosted by Barth Gimble (Martin Mull) that ran from 1977 to… er, 1977. While short lived, it paved the way for everything from Garry Shandling’s brilliant The Larry Sanders Show to Adult Swim’s The Eric Andre Show (on which he actually appeared, sharing a sweater with David Alan Grier as “David Alan Thicke”—really). Incidentally, today Fernwood holds up quite well and you may even recognize a familiar face because it…

2. Gave us Fred Willard.
If a mockumentary’s funny, Willard’s probably in it, as his resume includes This Is Spinal Tap, Best in Show and A Mighty Wind. (Indeed, there’s a 99 percent chance your strongest memory of that last film is Willard saying, “Wha’ happened?”) Willard’s first big role, however, was as Mull’s sidekick on Fernwood. And Thicke himself found inspiration in Fernwood because he…

3. Became a successful talk show host and took on the great Johnny Carson.
From 1980 to 1982, the Ontario native hosted The Alan Thicke Show in the Great White North. This program did so well that he then hosted Thicke of the Night from 1983 to 1984—and got crushed by Carson just like everyone else. But he quickly bounced back with the role that ensured an entire generation thought of him as dad, Dr. Jason Seaver on Growing Pains, which ran from 1985 to 1992 (and for which he received a Golden Globe nomination). And when he wasn’t giving fatherly advice or fathering Robin Thicke, he risked pissing off Canada because he…

4. Helped steal Wayne Gretzy for America.
The Great One was actually staying at Thicke’s L.A. home while the notorious deal to send him from the Edmonton Oilers to the Kings was being finalized. While Thicke was in Norway at that time, then Kings owner Bruce McCall said Thicke served as a key intermediary between him and Gretzky: “Wayne and I agreed that if there was one person that we could rely upon, it would be Alan.” Then again, Thicke was full of surprises as he…

5. Championed weird comedy.
The Eric Andre appearance was by no means out of character; just witness his supporting “The Cinco Napple” for Tim and Eric or popping up on Mike Tyson Mysteries. Even his appearances on The Dan Le Batard Show to talk sports had a knack for becoming genuinely odd. Which makes it all the more wonderful to know that you’ve been humming along to Alan Thicke for decades without even realizing it because he…

6. Had a knack for writing enduring theme songs.
Point blank: If there’s a theme from the late ’70s or the early ’80s you still remember, there’s a damn good chance Alan Thicke wrote it (and possibly sang it too). While he had many compositions, three in particular probably still pop into your head as earworms that refuse to be denied: Diff’rent Strokes, The Facts of Life and Wheel of Fortune.

Now that’s a legacy.