Growing Pains launched the careers of actors like Leonardo DiCaprio and featured already-established names like Alan Thicke. Young Leo was only a few years away from his involvement in the P*ssy Posse, while on the complete opposite end of the spectrum was Kirk Cameron, who became a born again Christian over the course of the show. With such a collection of names and diametrically opposing ideologies, it should come as no surprise that there are some crazy stories from the set of Growing Pains.
Tales range from bizarre to grim, and Leo's sleazy entourage was hardly the worst of it. In fact, it was Cameron's religious fervor that caused the most conflict. From off-screen romances to eating disorders, a behind-the-scenes look at these dark Growing Pains stories reveals that the cast was not as happy and peaceful as the Seaver family appeared on screen.
Kirk Cameron rejects the term "born again," but his religious beliefs definitely shifted during the run of Growing Pains. As he "found God," he began to take issue with his character, as well as writing that was too secular. He pushed back against sexual references and innuendo. Three producers actually left the show when Cameron phoned the ABC president to tell him they were "pornographers." He also had Julie McCollough kicked off the show when he learned she posed nude for Playboy.
Over the course of Growing Pains, Tracey Gold went from weighing 135 pounds to 83. Because of her extreme weight loss and emaciated appearance, she was actually suspended from the show, although it's unclear whether it was for her own good or because the network didn't like the way she looked. In season 3, right before Gold lost a significant amount of weight, producers included fat jokes at Gold's expense. The next season, the show aired an episode in which Gold's character, Carol Seaver, looks at herself in a funhouse mirror and uses the image as a metaphor for the distorted way in which she views her body.
Cameron found God and married on-screen love interest Chelsea Noble. He became a man on a mission to erase anything unholy from Growing Pains. Unfortunately, his new-found purpose caused some real friction among him and his co-stars. They went from being close friends to no longer inviting one another to personal events, such as weddings. Cameron later explained that he regretted not communicating to the cast why he only wanted his family at his wedding. "I shifted my focus from 100% on the show, to 100% on [my new life], and left 0% on the show—and even the friendships that were a part of [it]," said Cameron. Everyone else remained close, but Cameron became an outsider, removing himself from their lives in a seemingly abrupt and hurtful manner.
Jeremy Miller admitted to Oprah that the addition of Leonardo DiCaprio to the show peeved him. “There was a little bit of competition there," he said. "It bothered me that the network felt it was necessary to bring him in rather than focusing on my character, who had now grown up and could now take over for Mike as the rapscallion. That was a little weird." Despite being frustrated as a kid, Miller says he doesn't hold anything against Leo.