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John Ritter

John Ritter

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Also Known As: Jonathan Ritter, Jonathan Southworth Ritter Died: September 11, 2003
Born: September 17, 1948 Cause of Death: Heart Failure
Birth Place: Burbank, California, USA Profession: actor, producer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

One of the most popular TV stars of the late-1970s, John Ritter enjoyed a diverse career right up until his tragic death in 2003. The son of famed country-western star Tex Ritter, he first emerged with dozens of small television guest spots, including a recurring role as the serious-minded Reverend Fordwick on "The Waltons" (CBS, 1971-1981). Ritter rose to fame on the small screen as the irascible, klutzy Jack Tripper on the hit sitcom "Three's Company" (ABC, 1977-1984), where his boyish charm and affinity for physical comedy made him an audience favorite. Efforts to transition to leading man status in such feature films as Peter Bogdanovich's romance "They All Laughed" (1981) and Blake Edwards' sex-comedy "Skin Deep" (1989) met with little interest, although the failure spoke more to the substandard material than to Ritter's abilities. While television projects like "Hooperman" (ABC, 1987-89) and "Hearts Afire" (CBS, 1992-95) provided moderate success, it was Ritter's transformative performance in close friend Billy Bob Thornton's drama "Sling Blade" (1996) that garnered the actor a level of professional respect he had not previously enjoyed. With his career invigorated, Ritter moved on to a slew of...

One of the most popular TV stars of the late-1970s, John Ritter enjoyed a diverse career right up until his tragic death in 2003. The son of famed country-western star Tex Ritter, he first emerged with dozens of small television guest spots, including a recurring role as the serious-minded Reverend Fordwick on "The Waltons" (CBS, 1971-1981). Ritter rose to fame on the small screen as the irascible, klutzy Jack Tripper on the hit sitcom "Three's Company" (ABC, 1977-1984), where his boyish charm and affinity for physical comedy made him an audience favorite. Efforts to transition to leading man status in such feature films as Peter Bogdanovich's romance "They All Laughed" (1981) and Blake Edwards' sex-comedy "Skin Deep" (1989) met with little interest, although the failure spoke more to the substandard material than to Ritter's abilities. While television projects like "Hooperman" (ABC, 1987-89) and "Hearts Afire" (CBS, 1992-95) provided moderate success, it was Ritter's transformative performance in close friend Billy Bob Thornton's drama "Sling Blade" (1996) that garnered the actor a level of professional respect he had not previously enjoyed. With his career invigorated, Ritter moved on to a slew of supporting film roles and TV guest appearances until the family sitcom "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter" (ABC, 2002-05) once again provided him a showcase for his inimitable comedic skills. Although his untimely death cut short his still vibrant life and career, the beloved actor lived on in the memories of the friends, family and the audiences he entertained for decades.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Clifford's Really Big Movie (2004) Voice Of Clifford
2.
3.
 Man of the Year (2003) Bill
4.
 Bad Santa (2003) Bob Chipeska
5.
 Tadpole (2002) Stanley Grubman
6.
 Truth About Lying, The (2000) Bruce Simon Parker
7.
 Panic (2000) Josh Parks
9.
 Terror Tract (2000) Bob Carter
10.
 Lethal Vows (1999) David Farris
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1968:
Made professional acting debut on stage at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland
1971:
Film acting debut in "The Barefoot Executive"; billed ninth
1971:
Made TV debut as a guest in an episode of ABC's "Dan August", starring Burt Reynolds
1972:
Had role of Reverend Fordwicke on the CBS drama "The Waltons"
1975:
TV-movie debut in "The Night That Panicked America" (ABC)
1976:
Co-starred in Peter Bogdanovich's "Nickelodeon"
:
Starred in the popular ABC sitcom, "Three's Company"
1980:
Hosted the ABC variety special "John Ritter: Being of Sound Mind and Body"
1981:
Had one of the leads in Bogdanovich's ill-fated "They All Laughed"
1982:
Hosted the syndicated special "The Singing Cowboys Ride Again"
:
Headed the cast of the spin-off sitcom "Three's a Crowd" (ABC)
1986:
Delivered strong dramatic performance as a Vietnam veteran who may be suffering from the effects of Agent Orange in the NBC TV-movie "Unnatural Causes"
:
Had title role in the ABC half-hour comedy-drama "Hooperman"
:
Formed Adam Productions
:
Executive produced the first season of the popular ABC sitcom, "Anything But Love"; also played recurring role on the series as Richard Lewis' nemesis
1989:
Executive produced the short-lived sitcom, "Have Faith" (ABC)
1990:
Co-starred in the ABC miniseries "Stephen King's 'IT'"
1990:
Had title role in the NBC biopic "The Dreamer of Oz: The L. Frank Baum Story"
1990:
Played the surrogate father of the "Problem Child"
1992:
Reprised role in the sequel "Problem Child 2"
:
Starred in the CBS sitcom "Hearts Afire"; first screen collaboration with Billy Bob Thornton
1992:
Had third teaming with Bogdanovich with the backstage comedy "Noises Off"
1996:
Delivered a change of pace performance as a gay man who befriends a co-worker in Billy Bob Thornton's "Sling Blade"
1998:
Had recurring role as a client-turned-love interest for Calsita Flockhart's "Ally McBeal"; earned an Emmy nomination
2000:
Made Broadway debut co-starring with Henry Winkler in "The Dinner Party", a comedy written by Neil Simon
2001:
Starred in the L.A. production of the play "J for J", writer-director Jenny Sullivan's autobiographical play about her developmentally disabled older brother
2002:
Starred in the ABC comedy series "8 Simple Rules"
2003:
Played Bob Chipeska, a department store manager in "Bad Santa"; movie released after his death
2004:
Voiced Clifford in the animated feature "Clifford the Big Red Dog"; movie released after his death
2004:
Received an Emmy nomination ten months after his death for Best Actor in a Comedy Series for his work on "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Hollywood High School: Hollywood , California -
Harvey Lembeck Comedy Workshop: -
University of Southern California: Los Angeles , California - 1971

Notes

In 1980, Ritter and his mother Dorothy were the forces behind a company manufacturing Ritter Frozen Custard Desserts. They later opened a string of ice cream parlors in California.

"Even if I found a cure for a huge disease, while I was hobbling up onstage to accept the Nobel Prize, they'd be playing the theme song from There's Company"-Ritter Biography September 2002

"He's trying to keep his kids safe," Ritter says of his TV character, Paul Hennessy, "and he's overly worried and overly protective and he doesn't trust any teenaged boy alive, except his son."---Ritter on playing a father in his new sitcom "8 Rules for Dating My Teenaged Daughter" People August 28, 2002

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Nancy Morgan. Actor. Married in October 1977; separated in 1993; filed for divorce in September 1996; divorced.
wife:
Amy Yasbeck. Actor. Starred together in "Problem Child"; married on September 18, 1999 in Wilmington, Ohio.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Tex Ritter. Actor, singer. Born in 1905; died in 1974.
mother:
Dorothy Fay. Actor. Suffered a stroke in 1987; died November 5, 2003 at age 88.
brother:
Tom Ritter. Older; has cerebral palsy.
son:
Jason Ritter. Actor. Born February 17, 1980; mother, Nancy Morgan.
son:
Tyler Ritter. Born c. 1984; mother, Nancy Morgan.
daughter:
Carly Ritter. Born March 1, 1982; mother, Nancy Morgan.
daughter:
Stella Ritter. Born September 11, 1998; mother, Amy Yasbeck.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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