Philip McKeon: What Happened to Him?

LOS ANGELES - JUNE 1: Alice, a television situation comedy, originally broadcast on CBS. Featuring Philip McKeon (as Tommy Hyatt). Image dated June 1, 1980. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

Philip McKeon was an American child actor and radio personality, who gained fame for his portrayal of Tommy Hyatt, the son of the title character on the television sitcom Alice from 1976 to 1985. Born on November 11, 1964, McKeon began his acting career at a young age, showcasing his talent in one of the most popular sitcoms of the time.

After his time on Alice, McKeon continued to work in the entertainment industry, transitioning from acting to radio. Despite the challenges faced by many child actors, Philip managed to adapt and maintain a career in the public eye. Sadly, on December 10, 2019, McKeon passed away at the age of 55 after a long battle with illness. His death was a shock to many, including his sister and fellow child star, Nancy McKeon, who expressed her heartbreak and devastation over the loss of her brother.

Early Life and Rise to Fame

Philip Anthony McKeon was born on November 11, 1964. He rose to prominence as a talented child actor, most notably in his role as Tommy Hyatt in the popular television sitcom Alice from 1976 to 1985. Prior to his big break in Alice, McKeon’s career began at a very young age, when his parents took him to an audition for a local commercial.

During the casting process for Alice, McKeon and fellow child actor Alfred Lutter both auditioned for the role of Tommy Hyatt. McKeon’s undeniable talent ultimately landed him the part, propelling him into the spotlight as a recognizable figure in Hollywood.

While enjoying a successful career as a child actor, McKeon managed to maintain a somewhat normal upbringing. Raised in the Central Texas Hill Country, he spent time in the scenic village of Wimberly, Texas. Surrounded by the beautiful landscapes and outdoors, Philip McKeon found balance amidst his rising fame.

In addition to his acting career, McKeon was also a radio personality, showcasing his multifaceted talents in the industry. His early years paved the way for his career in show business, leaving a lasting impact on those who knew him and watched his performances.

Stellar Breakthrough in Alice

Alice Hyatt

Philip McKeon’s big break in the entertainment industry came through the CBS sitcom Alice. The show, which aired from 1976 to 1985, portrayed the life of a widow named Alice Hyatt, played by Linda Lavin. Lavin discovered McKeon during a Broadway performance of Medea and Jason in 1974. Impressed by his talent, she recommended him for the role of Tommy, her on-screen son.

Tommy Hyatt

In Alice, Philip McKeon played the role of Tommy Hyatt, the teenage son of Alice. He replaced child actor Alfred Lutter Jr., who appeared in the pilot episode after playing Tommy in the Martin Scorsese film opposite Ellen Burstyn. Throughout the show, McKeon was able to showcase his acting skills and develop a bond with Lavin, who portrayed his mother.

Alice was a significant stepping stone for Philip McKeon’s career as it exposed him to a wider audience and provided him the opportunity to work alongside talented individuals like Linda Lavin in a successful CBS sitcom.

Other Television Appearances

In addition to his role as Tommy Hyatt on the television sitcom Alice, Philip McKeon made several appearances on other popular TV shows during the late 1970s and 1980s. He showcased his versatile acting skills by being a part of various genres ranging from comedy to drama.

One of his notable appearances was on the action-packed drama series CHiPs. The show followed the lives of two Californian highway patrol officers and gained significant popularity throughout its run. McKeon appeared as a guest star in a couple of episodes, adding to the show’s ensemble cast.

Another TV series where McKeon left his mark was the mysterious Fantasy Island. Set on a magical island that fulfilled the desires of its visitors, the show featured McKeon in a guest role, where he helped bring intriguing storylines to life.

McKeon also had the opportunity to be a part of the classic romantic comedy-drama series, The Love Boat. The show was set on a cruise ship and focused on tales of romance and adventure. McKeon’s appearance contributed to the show’s unique blend of humor and drama.

He also starred in the lesser-known television film, No Day at the Beach. This World War II drama saw McKeon take on a more serious role and expand his acting range. His presence in a different genre altogether highlighted his adaptability and skill as an actor.

Lastly, McKeon appeared in an episode of Amazing Stories, a science fiction anthology series created by Steven Spielberg. His inclusion in the series further demonstrated his ability to take on diverse roles and captivate the audience with his talent.

Throughout his career, Philip McKeon managed to leave an impression on a variety of television series. His performances in shows like CHiPs, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, No Day at the Beach, and Amazing Stories are a testament to his versatility and talent as an actor.


Philip McKeon’s acting career spanned across television and film. Best known for his role as Tommy Hyatt in the television sitcom Alice (1976-1985), McKeon portrayed the title character’s son, captivating audiences with his talent and charm.

McKeon’s foray into the film industry included roles in horror and thriller genres. One such example is his performance in Return To Horror High (1987), a cult classic horror film. In this movie, McKeon played the character of Richard Farley, one of the key figures involved in a series of murders on a film set. His acting in this film showcased his versatility as he ventured beyond his initial success in the sitcom world.

Another notable film appearance by McKeon was in Ghoulies IV (1994), a part of the popular horror-comedy film series. In this installment, McKeon took on the role of Scott, a supporting character who becomes entangled in a supernatural battle involving demonic creatures. This film further demonstrated his inclination for roles that deviated from traditional television humor.

In addition to his acting credits, McKeon’s work extended to behind-the-scenes roles, such as producing and directing. Some examples include The Jacket (2005) and Murder in the First (1995). These contributions not only illustrated his dedication to the entertainment industry but also added depth to his diverse filmography.

Overall, Philip McKeon’s acting career showcased his ability to take on different roles and genres. From his iconic character in the Alice sitcom to his appearances in cult classic horror films like Return To Horror High and Ghoulies IV, McKeon left a lasting impression on audiences with his charisma and talent.

Transition to Radio

Philip McKeon, after a successful career as a child actor, transitioned to the world of radio. He began his journey in radio at KFWB News 98, a well-regarded Los Angeles radio station. McKeon worked in the news department, where he gained experience and honed his skills for a decade.

During his time at KFWB News 98, McKeon was involved in various aspects of radio broadcasting. As he grew more knowledgeable and confident in the field, he eventually moved to Wimberley, Texas. There, he took on hosting duties for his own local radio show.

In his radio show, McKeon shared interesting stories, news, and insights with his audience, effectively utilizing the skills he acquired during his tenure at the Los Angeles radio station. His transition to radio allowed him to pursue his passion for broadcasting and connect with people on a different platform.

Personal Life

Philip McKeon was born on November 11, 1964, and passed away on December 10, 2019. He was the son of Barbara McKeon and Donald McKeon. His family played a significant role in his career, as they supported and encouraged him throughout his acting journey. The family’s foresight and belief in Philip’s talent led them to take him to an audition at the beginning of his kindergarten, which marked the start of his career.

Philip had a sister named Nancy McKeon, who also had a successful acting career. Both siblings shared a strong bond and were supportive of each other throughout their respective careers. Nancy is best known for her role in the popular 1980s TV show, “The Facts of Life.”

In addition to his acting career, Philip McKeon also ventured into radio and became a radio personality. This transition marked a significant change in his professional trajectory as he moved away from the public eye and focused on a different area of media.

Throughout his life, Philip maintained a private personal life, and little is known about his relationships and friendships. However, it is clear that his family, particularly his mother Barbara and sister Nancy, held a significant place in his heart and life. Their support and love undoubtedly contributed to Philip’s success and impact in the entertainment industry.

Kindness and Loyalty

Philip McKeon, the former child star who played Linda Lavin’s son on the CBS sitcom “Alice,” was known for his kindness and loyalty according to those who knew him personally. He passed away at the age of 55, leaving a lasting impression on the people with whom he crossed paths.

Fellow actor Charlie Sheen remembered McKeon fondly, paying tribute to him on Twitter. Sheen called McKeon a “perfect gentleman” and emphasized the impact he had on those around him. It is evident that McKeon’s positive attitude made a lasting impression on his peers in the entertainment industry.

A family spokesman, Jeff Ballard, also reflected on McKeon’s wonderful sense of humor and the kindness and loyalty he consistently displayed throughout his life. These attributes were evident not only in his professional career but also in his personal relationships.

McKeon’s legacy will continue to live on through his many friends, family, and fans who celebrate his life and his remarkable character.

Final Years and Legacy

Philip McKeon, former child actor known for his role on the CBS sitcom “Alice,” passed away on December 10, 2019 at the age of 55. His death occurred in Texas, after battling a long illness, which had greatly impacted his life in recent years.

McKeon’s career began at a young age when he was cast as Tommy Hyatt, the son of the title character in the television sitcom “Alice,” which aired from 1976 to 1985. As an adult, he transitioned into a radio personality and remained involved in the entertainment industry.

Despite facing health challenges in his later years, Philip McKeon left a lasting impression on both fans and colleagues. His role on “Alice” still resonates with those who remember the show fondly, and his contributions to the industry are a testament to his talent and passion. Although he is no longer with us, his legacy will live on through the memories of those whose lives he touched, both on and offscreen.

Reactions to His Death

The news of Philip McKeon’s death at the age of 55 was met with sadness and heartfelt tributes from friends and fellow actors. Charlie Sheen shared his condolences on Twitter, recalling McKeon as a “gentleman” and an exceptional talent.

Additionally, Hollywood Reporter and Variety announced McKeon’s passing and chronicled his career accomplishments. His sister, Nancy McKeon, was said to be “devastated” by the loss of her brother.

Philip McKeon, best known for his role as Tommy Hyatt on the CBS sitcom Alice from 1976 to 1985, left an impact on his co-stars. Alice star Linda Lavin spoke of McKeon fondly, noting the positive energy and humor he brought to the cast. Former Facts of Life stars Julie Piekarski and Kim Fields also mourned McKeon’s death, sharing their memories with fans.

In summary, the reactions to Philip McKeon’s death highlighted:

  • Charlie Sheen’s touching tribute on Twitter
  • Coverage from Hollywood Reporter and Variety
  • Devastation from his sister, Nancy McKeon
  • Support from his former co-stars, such as Linda Lavin and Facts of Life cast members

Philip McKeon’s early passing left a mark on the entertainment industry, and his memory will live on through his beloved roles and the kind words shared by those who knew him.

Written by Alexander