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Alan Thicke's 'Growing Pains' wife Joanna Kerns honors late star: 'I am devastated'

Alan Thicke swapped "I dos" three times, but he had four wives over the course of his life — if you count his TV wife of seven years, Joanna Kerns.

And you should.

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"Growing Pains" stars Alan Thicke and Joanna Kerns in 1989.

In a heartfelt tribute to the actor penned the day after his death, Kerns opened up about the time they shared together on the set of "Growing Pains" and explained how their "pretend" love made for the perfect marriage.

RELATED: Remembering Alan Thicke: Actor's sons and fellow stars pay tribute

"I loved Al. I called him Al because it really bugged him," she wrote in statement released Wednesday. "He thought it sounded like an old man’s name. He hated it, but the cast loved it and unfortunately for him, it stuck."

While he didn't care for the name, Thicke loved the playful teasing — and the fictional family it came from.

"Alan was a true and loyal friend," Kerns continued. "As Maggie and Jason Seaver, we experienced more than a life-changing success together. When you pretend to love someone day after day, year after year, you see all their faults and foibles and learn to accept them as they are, separate from you, and there is a connection that happens that is hard to explain. I had that with Alan."

Looking back on it now, she's aware of just how special that bond was.

"Maybe that’s what marriage should be, the ability to love without judgment and the strength to remain separate," she mused.

RELATED: We all called Alan Thicke dad: Why the star was the ultimate TV father

Their on-screen marriage existed from 1985 to 1992, but the off-screen friendship they developed after playing partners and parents for so long endured until his death Tuesday at the age of 69.

"I am devastated by Alan’s passing and will be for some time," Kerns wrote. "I used to joke, before I met my real husband, Marc, that Alan was my favorite daytime husband. At work we laughed all day, everyday at things Alan would come up with, usually at my expense. It was fun. Alan was fun and we all loved teasing each other."

And he always knew just what to say — with that teasing spirit in mind.

"Alan kept me calm and when I’d start to get upset about something silly," she recalled. "He would set things straight, give me a big hug and very gently say, 'Maggie…don’t be an a******.'"

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The cast of "Growing Pains": Ashley Johnson, Jeremy Miller, Kirk Cameron, Tracy Gold, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joanna Kerns and Alan Thicke in 1989.

"There was a sweetness and kindness to his humor," she added. "No one could make fun of Alan better than Alan. As an actor, that is a gift, and I truly believe he was underrated."

Kerns, 63, ended her tribute with a hopeful message to her late pal.

"So here’s to my dear friend Al, may you rest in peace and may your angels be youthful, tall, buxom and witty," she wished. "May they also be as gorgeous as all of your wives and as generous and clever as you."

Follow Ree Hines on Twitter.

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