Actor John Ritter dies at 54

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Gone but Never Forgotten
Jun 2, 2002
LOS ANGELES - Emmy award-winning actor John Ritter, best known for his portrayal of Jack Tripper on the 1970s comedy Three's Company, has died. He was 54.

ABC reported the actor died of a massive heart attack while taping his current ABC show 8 Simple Rules for Dating my Teenage Daughter.

Ritter was also the voice for Clifford on the animated series Clifford the Big Red Dog, shown on CBC. He leaves behind a wife and four children.

His publicist said the exact cause of death was a dissection of the aorta, the result of an unrecognized flaw in his heart.

Ritter was the youngest son of Western film star and country musician Tex Ritter.

Three's Company, about a bumbling aspiring chef who pretends to be gay in order to live with two female roommates, was one of ABCs most popular hits during the 70s.

The show also starred Suzanne Sommers and Joyce DeWitt. Sommers later left the show after a well-publicized dispute with the network but the series continued.

Written by CBC News Online staff


Always remembered in our hearts
Apr 17, 2002
This is so sad! :( I was shocked to hear this morning on the news that John died! :( So young! :( He was so funny in Three's Company and as the Dad in the Problem Child movies! And his new tv show! How truly sad and what a loss. At least he would have died quick with the diagnosis he had. What a shame! :( Thanks for posting this Jim. Take care. angel :(

Shadow Bea

Cherished forever in our hearts
Sep 9, 2002
My heart goes out to his family.. brilliant comedian an actor one of the few who kept it clean.. too young to die.. too young.
Jul 14, 2003
Johnny Cash too, but at least he had had a long life. I can't believe John is gone I just watched a tv movie yesterday with him.& we watch Clifford everyday. My heart goes out to all the people who's lives he touched.
Aug 4, 2003
This is sad... I was looking forward to the 2nd series of 8 Simple Rules. When I was in middle/high school, I couldn't wait to get home to watch 'Three's Company'. i loved that show!!!

a Very sad day! :(
Sep 25, 2001
As Jack Tripper, he was one of the funniest charcators I ever saw. His actions and expressions were priceless. I was always hoping for a reunion show but that is now a non issue.

Feb 12, 2001
Originally posted by Prrebel:
As Jack Tripper, he was one of the funniest charcators I ever saw. His actions and expressions were priceless. :(
True... A modern day Jerry Lewis... Sad to see him go...
Jun 26, 2000
not a mention over here about John Ritter!! Everyone in the world new Cash, but you have to jog people's memories when you mention John Ritter.

Anyway, it was definitely a surprise to hear he died!!:(

Sooky 47

Gone and dearly missed
Nov 6, 2001
I didn't see or hear of this until the news at 6:00 pm friday .
How very sad for his family, friends and all who held him in high reguard as an actor and comedian. He was goood !



Always remembered in our hearts
Apr 17, 2002
I'm not so sure the show will last without John in just won't be the same...but you never know. Today would have been his 55th birthday.... :( Take care. angel

Ritter's sitcom to continue without him
Wednesday, September 17, 2003 Posted: 12:39 AM EDT (0439 GMT)

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- ABC's "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter" will continue despite star John Ritter's death and will show the TV family coping with his character's loss, the network said Tuesday.

"Everybody recognizes that John loved that show. ... He'd have wanted the show to continue," Lloyd Braun, chairman of ABC Entertainment Television Group, told a telephone news conference.

Braun and ABC Entertainment President Susan Lyne said the sitcom will debut next Tuesday as planned and that the network will air the three episodes Ritter filmed before his death last week.

After that, the series co-starring Katey Sagal will go into repeats while writers retool it and production starts. No date was given for when the show will return to the air.

Ritter, making a TV series comeback 25 years after he starred in "Three's Company," became ill on the "8 Simple Rules" set and died Thursday of an undetected heart problem. He was 54.

It hasn't been decided if the death of Ritter's character, Paul Hennessy, will mirror what happened to the actor, ABC executives said.

Ritter's series, which premiered last year with solid ratings, was considered a key part of ABC's comeback effort and anchored its Tuesday night lineup of family comedies.

ABC knows it's facing a difficult task, rebuilding a comedy on a death and especially that of the series' star, network executives acknowledged.

"We're going to take it an episode at a time," Lyne said. While the idea of recasting Ritter's role was quickly rejected, new characters will be added at some point, the ABC executives said.

Although Braun lauded Sagal as a "fantastic actress" capable of taking on a greater role in the series, he said it would become more of an ensemble production.

Ritter's widow, actress Amy Yasbeck, and the series' cast and producers supported the decision to keep going, Braun said. An ABC News tribute to Ritter was to air Tuesday night.

A similar episode in television history came when comic Redd Foxx died in 1991, after making seven episodes of his comeback series on CBS, "The Royal Family." The show returned without him six months after his death, but lasted only a few episodes.

Comedian Freddie Prinze, star of "Chico and the Man," committed suicide in 1977 in the third year of the popular NBC sitcom. The network cast a new, younger Chico but the show was gone in a year.

The rarity of such occurrences makes it difficult to predict how "8 Simple Rules" will fare, Braun said. "I think it will be a show we'll be proud to put on," he said.

Each of the first three episodes already shot will start with a special introduction, featuring the cast members. The next new show will deal with Paul Hennessy's death.

"Future episodes will take viewers into the Hennessy household as they experience the loss of a father and construct a new life together," said Braun. "We will play out the situation as real life."

Executives said they considered a number of options, including canceling the show.

"This is a business," analyst Steve Sternberg of the ad-buying firm Magna Global USA said of the network's decision. But it's a risky one, he said.

"Initially, the show could benefit from the publicity," Sternberg said. "But they will have to do it well. If they don't, it could flop quickly and ABC will look bad doing it."
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