Linda Lavin’s tears of grief

Linda Lavin, who played Alice, is in sadness at the passing of Philip McKeon, who also appeared in the show.

Lavin, who is now 83 years old, reflected on the “strong” connection she experienced with Philip on the set of Alice. She remembered him as a “wonderful youngster” in the statement that she gave to PEOPLE.

She described Philip as “the adorable, sweet boy,” always willing and eager to connect with others. “Philip was always willing and eager to engage with others,” she said. “Despite the fact that we were putting on a performance for the audience, the dynamic of building that relationship made our connection feel extremely real and profound. Simply by being the wondrous boy that he was, he showed me how to be a kind and responsible parent.

Lavin played the role of a widowed mother who was an aspiring actress and worked as a waitress in Phoenix while also raising her preteen son, who was played by Philip. The comedy was a smash in the 1970s. From 1976 until 1985, Alice aired for a total of nine seasons.

Alfred Lutter portrayed the title character Alice Hyatt’s son Tommy in Martin Scorsese’s 1974 romantic comedy Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, which served as the inspiration for the CBS sitcom. The film was directed by Scorsese. After the pilot episode, Philip was cast in the role of Lutter’s replacement.

His spokesman, Jeff Ballard, confirmed to PEOPLE that Philip, who was 55 years old, passed away in Texas on Tuesday morning after a long struggle with an illness.

Ballard expressed everyone’s feelings when he said, “We are all utterly heartbroken and crushed by Phil’s passing.” “His fantastic sense of humor, generosity, and loyalty will be remembered by all those who came into contact with him during his life.”

Philip McKeon is the older brother of Nancy McKeon, who played Nancy McKeon on Facts of Life.

After his stint on Alice, Philip worked for ten years in the news department of the Los Angeles radio station KFWB News 98. Later, he moved to Wimberly, Texas, where he had his own radio show and relocated to be closer to his family.

On Tuesday, Charlie Sheen paid tribute on Twitter to Philip, his co-star from an episode of the NBC anthology series Amazing Stories that aired in the 1980s.

Sheen, who is now 54 years old, wrote in her post: “Shared some amazing moments in the ‘trenches’ with Phil McKeon many moons ago.” “Throughout the several decades that have passed, he has always been the epitome of a proper gentleman and an upbeat spirit.”

Nancy and Philip’s mother, Barbara, are the only people he leaves behind.