He was a modern day hollywood legend with a heart of solid gold! Faithfully devoted to his fans, and career. Annnd willing to have a heated arguement when he thought his fellow collegue actor(s) was/were being unreasonable with their fans... he stated once after getting into such an arguement with Don Knotts.... "He looked me dead in the eye and said that I wasn't fit to shine Andy Griffith's shoes. I stayed up all night thinking about that." Even with all the talent he had, he used it to entertain his fans, not the fame. His fans always came first to his career and he demonstrated it time and time again. I really can't emphasize that enough. I'd have never believed it if I hadn't had the pleasure of meeting him in Florida one night. He ask me 3 times if I wanted a bottle of water (or something). (NAME a celebrity that will do THAT! I can't!) Out of that night - I had a pic made.. but it was before digi pics and I do bo-leeve it's in my storage unit...and this signed photo. Once I dig the picture out of my storage - i'll throw it up here... I didn't think so much of it until after the night had past. John was a favorite of mine! I did some graphics for his website.. John was a CLASS A KINDA GUY!! I want to treat this story with utmost respect. I encourage any other fans out there who had the great opportunity to meet this great man...To please email me... I wanna see what your experience was. Mine as you just read... WAS AWESOME!! That said - his story begins....
John Ritter was born September 17, 1948 in Burbank, California. The son of singing cowboy matinee star Tex Ritter, (as seen in that video he'd ran for Senate in my homestate of Tennessee), and son of actress Dorothy Fay Southworth, it was only natural that John would follow in the limelight. Along with his entertainer parents, he grew up in this Toluca Lake, posh pad..(here is the rec room where I am sure John spent many a day!) In elementary, middle, and high school, he was always the life of the room. He graduated from Hollywood High School, where he served as class president, and voted most popular, bound for success as an actor...(well, guess whut?!? I think they nailed THAT one!)
After graduation from high school, he later attended the University of Southern California, where he majored in Psychology and minored in Architecture. Also in 1966, before attending college, his first appearance on TV was as a contestant on "The Dating Game" , on which he won a vacation to Lake Havasu, Arizona. Check it out below!! PRICELESS!!
After making his very first cameo appearance and a couple of years of attending school, he was induced to join an acting class taught by Nina Foch. He changed his major to Theater Arts, graduating in 1971 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Drama. He also studied acting with Stella Adler at the Harvey Lembeck Comedy Workshop. Between 1968 and 1969, he appeared in a series of stage plays in England, Scotland, Holland and in Germany. His father was entertaining troops in Germany at the same time that his son was performing at an air base there. His talent was emensly exploding and it wasn't long before Hollywood recognized it.
His acting debut was on an episode of "Hawaii Five-O" in 1968, playing various roles. On "Dan August" , he played a campus revolutionary, in a film which also starred Burt Reynolds and Norman Fell, who later starred with him on, "Three's Company." Then, he appeared as Reverend Matthew Fordwickon "The Waltons". His guest-starring spot was so popular, that he was written in to having a recurring role on the show. He continued making more guest appearances on top television shows such as "M*A*S*H", "The Bob Newhart Show", among many others. While working on "The Waltons", he received word that his legendary father had passed away, just a day after New Years' Day in 1974.
The following year in late 1975, ABC picked up the rights for a new series on a British sitcom about, "A Man About The House," and Ritter beat out 50 people including a no-talent young Billy Crystal, to get a major role. The first pilot was trashed, and in order for it to be improved, Joyce DeWitt, an unknown actress, played the role of Janet Wood, the following year, along with Susan Lanier as the dumb blonde, Chrissy Snow. Unlike the first pilot, it did better but the producers still needed a change and Suzanne Somers came to the show, at the very last minute to play Chrissy. The series, "Three's Company", was born. When it debuted as a mid-season replacement, it became a ratings hit, like many other sitcoms of the 70s, and it focused mainly on his character, Jack Tripper, an admirable chef who lived in an apartment with two attractive ladies, while pretending to be gay.
John's career spanned many films after the hit show "Three's Company," ended. Notably "Problem Child," and its first sequel, the Academy Award-winning Sling Blade, and Noises Off. He also starred with Markie Post in the early-1990s sitcom Hearts Afire and on the 1980s police comedy-drama Hooperman.
He starred in many made-for-TV movies including It Came From the Sky in 1999 with Yasmine Bleeth 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. His last feature film, he reunited with Billy Bob Thornton for "Bad Santa," which was a hit at box offices as well and was dedicated to John. In 2002, he made a TV comeback with the ABC family sitcom 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.
On September 11, 2003, Ritter went to work as usual at the Disney lot... no doubt, passing this horribly scarry Mickey bush. Into sound stage 6, John became ill during the initial days rehearsal for 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, which was to start its second season. He was taken first to the Disney studio medics... then, across the street from the studio to Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, where he died hours later. John Ritter was six days shy of his 55th birthday. Coincidentally, Ritter died at the same hospital he was born in. In more sadness, the date of his death was the same as his daughter Stella's fifth birthday, the day before wife Yasbeck's fortieth birthday, and six days before their wedding anniversary. He died from an aortic dissection caused by a previously undiagnosed congenital heart defect. Ritter was interred at Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles.
R.I.P. John, and thank you for sharing your great talent with the world!!
John's kids today... Jason is a GREAT actor and has a WONDERFUL career ahead! No doubt he inherited his dad and mom's talent!
"I want to be remembered as Just as a guy who was interested in the golden thread that intertwines all of us together. You know, that golden thread that goes through me and you, and the cameraman, and all the people out there and back through Nancy. That's what an artist can do, that someone - anyone - could do, if they're willing to pluck that. And either it makes you laugh or it makes you cry, it's that golden thread of humanity, and I'd like to be remembered as maybe a guy who plucked a few of those."