John Ritter went on to star in several stage performances before he was made
a star by appearing in the hit sitcom Three's Company in 1977, playing a single
ladies' man and culinary student, Jack Tripper, who lived with two female
roommates. Jack pretended to be gay to keep the landlords happy with the living
arrangement. The show spent several seasons at or near the top of the TV ratings
in the US before ending in 1984. Ritter went on for one more year on the
follow-up comedy Three's a Crowd. The original series has been seen continuously
in reruns and currently airs on TV Land. It is also available on DVD. During the
run of the show, he appeared in They All Laughed. In 1978, he played
Starr's manager on the television special Ringo, and in 1982, played the
voice of Peter Dickinson in Flight of Dragons.
John Ritter guest starred on a few episodes of The Cosby Show.
After Three's Company, he appeared in a number of movies, 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.
John Ritter 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.
He also guest starred on the NBC sitcom Scrubs as the father of Zach Braff's character, J.D. He was due to make another guest appearance, but owing to his death the producers changed the storyline to one in which J.D.'s older brother Dan (played by Tom Cavanagh) visits J.D. to tell him that their father has died and helps his brother cope with his passing. That episode, titled "My Cake" (Season 4, Ep 6), was dedicated to Ritter.
John 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 performances. 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.
John Ritter's final two movie roles were as the store manager in Bad Santa (2003), starring Billy Bob Thornton and Bernie Mac and Clifford's Really Big Movie,.
John Ritter has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6631 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood.
The son of singing cowboy matinee star Tex Ritter, John Ritter married twice, once to actress Nancy Morgan (married 1977-divorced 1996) and then to 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). Additionally she was his wife in their guest appearance on The Cosby Show as the in-labor wife of Ritter's basketball coach character. Ritter and Morgan had three children, Carly, Tyler, and Jason. He and Yasbeck had one daughter, Stella.
On September 11, 2003, Ritter became ill during rehearsals for 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, which was starting its second season. He was taken 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. 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.
8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter was retitled 8 Simple Rules after Ritter's death and continued for two more seasons. The first three episodes of season 2 had featured Ritter, so they were rewritten. The season dealt with the family trying to move on after their patriarch's death. New male characters, played by James Garner and David Spade, were added to fill in the gap.
John Ritter's last films, Bad Santa and Clifford, were dedicated in his memory.
This John Ritter Biography Page is Copyright The Planets © 2004 - 2006 Chuck Ayoub