The story behind Kirk Cameron’s sad birthday photo

Kirk Cameron, star of the popular '80s sitcom "Growing Pains," celebrated his 41st birthday earlier this week. Cameron, who is now pursuing a new television career as a Christian evangelist and co-host of an evangelical show called "The Way of the Master," spent his birthday at Living Waters Ministry in Bellflower, Calif. The ministry's staff threw him a small party, and ordered from Subway. Lane Chaplin, a student at nearby Trinity Law School and a guest at the party, snapped a photo of Cameron blowing out the candles on a cake in Living Waters' rather sparse conference room. Chaplin uploaded the photo to Twitter. It quickly went viral.

"See a Very Sad Photo From Kirk Cameron's Birthday Party" the headline on New York magazine's Vulture blared. "We're not totally sure where this photo came from (and whether it's real, or from a movie set), but regardless of its origins: oh dear." The Washington Post's Jen Chaney launched a caption contest. photoshopped Cameron some friends.

According to a person at the party who spoke to The Cutline, there were 10-15 people behind the camera when the photo of Cameron was taken. And none of them, it seems, was aware the photo went viral.

"Yup," Chaplin, a Christian vlogger, wrote in response to a Twitter message asking if the photo was real. "Are people posting it on the web?"

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