Saturday, November 20, 2010

John Ritter star of Three's Company

John Ritter was born in 1948 in California.  He was best known for his role as Jack Tripper in "Three's Company" co-starring Suzanne Somers, and Joyce DeWitt and later on, Priscilla Barnes.  He entertained across a broad spectrum including film, TV, and Broadway.  He also took his career off the screen and did some producing as well as cinematography.  His other well known credits include "The Waltons", "Hooperman", "Hearts Afire", and "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Daughter".  He comes from an acting family his father being Tex Ritter and mother being Dorothy Fay.

John Ritter, the early years

John began his acting career in 1968 appearing in the TV movie "Crazy World, Crazy People".  He next appeared in several movies including "The Barefoot Executive" (1971), "Scandalous John" (1971), "The Other" (1972), and "The Stone Killer in 1973 with Charles Bronson.  He had appearances in the TV shows "M*A*S*H" with Alan Alda, "Kojak", "The Bob Newhart Show", "Movin' On", "Mannix", "The Bob Crane Show",  "Barnaby Jones", "The Streets of San Fancisco", "The Mary Tyler Moore Show", "The rookies", "Starsky and Hutch", "Rhoda" with Valerie Harper, "Phyllis" with Cloris Leachman, and "Hawaii Five-O".  

John Ritter and co-stars of "Three's Company" Joyce DeWitt and Suzanne Somers

It was during this time that he began starring as Reverend Fordwick in "The Waltons" from 1972 to 1976 starring Richard Thomas, Will Geer, Michael Learned, Ralph Waite, and many others as the theme was about a large family living together in the back woods of Virginia.

After "The Waltons", John appeared in many made for TV movies and feature films with a couple of TV show roles in there as well.  These included "Hero at Large" (1980), "The Comeback Kid" (1980), and "Wholly Moses!" (1980), and "The Love Boat" starring Gavin MacLeod 1977 through 1983.  It was in 1976 that he landed the role of Jack Tripper in "Three's Company" which would be his most famous portrayal.  He co-starred with Suzanne Somers (Chrissy), Joyce DeWitt (Janet) and Pricilla Barnes (Terri).  Also included were supporting cast members Don Knotts (
Ralph Furley), Audra Lindley (Helen Roper), and Norman Fell (Stanley Roper).  The latter two would later form a spin-off series called "The Ropers".

After "Three's Company", John attempted to continue his role as Jack Tripper in the follow up "Three's a Crowd" which lasted one season.  He then continued again with a mix of TV shows, films, and TV movies such as "A Smokey Mountain Christmas" (1986), "Real Men" (1987), "Skin Deep" (1989), and "Have Faith".  In 1987 he began his role as Detective Harry Hooperman in "Hooperman".  Continuing on with "My Brother's Wife" (1989), "It" (1990), "The Cosby Show" (1991), "Problem Child 2", "Anything But Love", "Fish Police", and "North" in 1994.

In 1992-94 he starred in the TV show Hearts Afire as John Hartman.  He finished out the 90's with appearances in "NewsRadio" (1995), "Wings" (1996), "Sling Blade" (1996), "Mercenary" (1997), "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (1997), "Chance of a Lifetime" (1998), "Bride of Chucky" (1998), "Ally McBeal" (1998), "Veronica's Closet" (1999), and "Touched by an Angel" (1996-99).  He continued into the new millennium with "Chicago Hope" (2000), "Family Law" (2000), "The Ellen Show" (2002), "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (2002), "Felicity" (2000-2002), and "Scrubs" (2002).

In 2002 he played Paul Hennessy in the successful comedy "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Daughter".  During rehearsals for the second season
in September 2003, he became sick and was rushed to the hospital.  It was determined that he had an undetected heart defect. He later died during surgery.  He was nearly 55 years old.  The role of Paul was written out of the show as passing away as well.  When he was replaced by two other characters played by James Garner and David Spade, the name of the show was changed to "8 Simple Rules".

Some of John Ritter's works were posthumously released including "Bad Santa", "Clifford's Really Big Movie", an episode of "King of the Hill", and "Stanley's Dinosaur Round-up".  He will be sorely missed.  However, a little of John lives on in his son, actor Jason Ritter who looks very much like him.

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