The following biography
John Ritter (September 17, 1948 – September
11, 2003) was an American actor.
Born Jonathan Southworth Ritter in Burbank,
California, he was the son of country singer/actor Tex Ritter and former
actress Dorothy Fay.
Ritter attended Hollywood High School,
where he was Student Body President. He went on to the University of
Southern California, where he was a member of the Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI)
fraternity, majored in psychology and minored in architecture.
After two years in college, he was
persuaded to join a drama class given by leading drama coach and
actress, Nina Foch. Ritter soon changed his major to Theater Arts,
graduating in 1971 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in drama. Under
Foch, he studied acting with Stella Adler and the Harvey Lembeck Comedy
Ritter went on to star in several stage
performances before he was made a star by appearing in the hit TV sitcom
Three's Company in 1977, playing a single ladies man and culinary
student, Jack Tripper, who lived with two female roommates. In 1978, he
played Ringo Starr's manager on the television special Ringo.
After Three's Company, he appeared in a
number of movies, notably Problem Child and its first sequel, Academy
Award-winning Sling Blade, and Noises Off. He also starred with Markie
Post in the early-1990s sitcom Hearts Afire.
He starred in many made-for-TV movies and
made guest appearances on TV shows such as Ally McBeal and Buffy the
Vampire Slayer. He also provided the voice for Clifford in the animated
children's show Clifford the Big Red Dog, a role for which he received
two Emmy nominations.
He also guest starred on the NBC sitcom
Scrubs as the father of Zach Braff's character, J.D. He was to make
another guest appearance but due to his death the producers changed the
storyline to J.D.'s older brother Dan (played by Tom Cavanagh) visits
J.D. to tell him that their father (John Ritter) passed away and help
his brother cope with their father's passing. That episoide. titled "My
Cake" (Season 4, Ep 6), was dedicated to John Ritter.
Ritter had two wives, actress Nancy Morgan
(married 1977-divorced 1996) and actress Amy Yasbeck (married
1999-2003). Yasbeck had played his wife or love interest in two of the
Problem Child movies (interestingly, as two distinct characters).
He and Morgan had three children, Carly
Ritter, Tyler Ritter, and Jason Ritter. He and Yasbeck had one daughter,
Ritter played Claude Pichon in The Dinner
Party (2000) at the Music Box Theatre on Broadway, which was written by
Neil Simon. It ran for three hundred and sixty-four perfomances.
John Ritter won the Theatre World Award in
2001 for his performance in The Dinner Party.
In 2002, he made a TV comeback with the ABC
family sitcom 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.
Ritter's final movie role was as the store
manager in Bad Santa (2003), starring Billy Bob Thornton and Bernie Mac.
He became ill during a rehearsal of his TV
series, 8 Simple Rules (which was at the time starting its second
season), on September 11, 2003, and died later that day at the age of 54
at a nearby hospital in Burbank, California. The cause of death was
listed as an aortic dissection, the result of a previously undiagnosed
congenital heart defect. He was interred at Forest Lawn - Hollywood
Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles.
John Ritter has a star on the Hollywood
Walk of Fame at 6631 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood.
The Waltons (1973-1976)
Three's Company (1977-1984)
Flight of Dragons (1982) voice
Three's a Crowd (1984-1985)
The Cosby Show (1991) Guest Appearance
Hearts Afire (1992-1995)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997) Guest
Ally McBeal (1998) Guest Appearance
Clifford the Big Red Dog (2000-2003) voice
Scrubs (2002) Guest Appearance
8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage
The Other (1972)
Americathon 1998 (1979)
Hero at Large (1980)
The Comeback Kid (1980)
They All Laughed (1981)
Pray TV (1982)
In Love With An Older Woman (1982)
Sunset Limousine (1983)
Letting Go (1985)
A Smoky Mountain Christmas (1986)
Unnatural Causes (1987)
Real Men (1987)
Tricks of the Trade (1988)
Skin Deep (1989)
The Last Fling (1989)
Problem Child (1990)
Everybody Wins (1990)
The Dreamer of Oz: The L. Frank Baum Story
Problem Child 2 (1991)
Stay Tuned (1992)
Noises Off (1992)
Prison for Children (1993)
My Brother's Wife (1993)
The Colony (1995)
Mercenary (movie) (1996)
Sling Blade (1997)
Sink Or Swim (1997)
A Gun, a Car, a Blonde (1997)
Bride of Chucky (1998)
The Million Dollar Kid (1999)
It Came From the Sky (1999)
Dead Husbands (1999)
Terror Tract (2000)
Bad Santa (2003)
* * * *
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August, 26, 2005
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