Philip McKeon, a former child actor best known for playing the son on the CBS sitcom Alice, died Tuesday morning in a hospital in Texas. He was 55.
A family spokesman, Jeff Ballard, said he died after a longtime illness, which he declined to specify.
“We are all beyond heartbroken and devastated over Phil’s passing,” Ballard said in a statement. “His wonderful sense of humor, kindness and loyalty will be remembered by all who crossed his path in life.”
From 1976 to 1985, McKeon, the older brother of actress Nancy McKeon, played Tommy Hyatt on Alice. The show starred Linda Lavin as a widow and aspiring singer who works as a waitress at a roadside diner in Phoenix. Viewers watched McKeon grow up on the show as he played the smart and loving preteen son with a toothy grin who went on to play basketball in college. He appeared in more than half of the show’s 202 episodes.
The show’s cast also included Vic Tayback as the diner’s owner and Polly Holliday, Beth Howland, Diane Ladd and Celia Weston as waitresses.
McKeon was born on Nov. 11, 1964, in Westbury, New York, according to IMDB. In addition to Alice, the actor appeared in other popular prime-time series including “CHiPS,” “Fantasy Island” and “The Love Boat” in the late 1970s and 1980s. He also had roles in the films “Return to Horror High” and “Ghoulies IV.”
McKeon was also listed as a co-producer in the 2005 movie “The Jacket,” starring Adrien Brody and Keira Knightley, and as an associate producer in 1995’s “Murder in the First.”
He spent the past several years hosting his own radio show in Wimberley, Texas, where he moved to be closer to his family, according to Ballard. McKeon had also worked in the news division at KFWB News in Los Angeles for 10 years.
McKeon is survived by his mother, Barbara, and his sister, Nancy McKeon.
Lavin mourned the loss of her longtime co-star on Alice.
“Philip was the endearing, loving boy, always willing and eager to connect with others,” she said in an email Wednesday. “Although we were performing a show, the dynamic of creating that relationship made our connection very real and deep. He taught me how to be a good mom, just by being the wondrous boy he was.”
On Twitter, actor Charlie Sheen posted a tribute to McKeon along with a photo. They appeared in a 1986 episode of “Amazing Stories” on NBC.
“Over the past few decades, he was always a perfect gentleman and an ebullient spirit,” Sheen wrote. His “goofy” smile, he added, was “pure gold.”