Today in history: John Ritter

November 19, 2014

Today was the birthday and the well-known comedian and actor John Ritter. For those that don’t remember John, he made guest appearances on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Waltons in 1970, Hawaii Five-O in 1971 and M.A.S.H. in 1973 before landing his most popular role of Jack Tripper in Three’s Company.

John was the son of country singer and actor Tex Ritter and actress Dorothy Fay Southworth, Ritter. Believe it or not, even though he grew up surrounded by show business, John had no aspirations of following in his parents’ footsteps.

[Learn more about John by viewing his Footprint]

He attended the University of Southern California where he majored in Psychology and minored in Architecture. After two years, however, he was persuaded to join a drama class taught by leading drama coach and actress Nina Foch. He soon changed his major to Theater Arts, graduating in 1971.

Off-camera, Ritter was devoted to the United Cerebral Palsy Foundation. He and his brother Tom (who triumphed over the disease), hosted annual telethons that raised millions of dollars for the organization.

Unexpectedly, Ritter fell ill while filming for a new TV episode on September 11, 2003, suffering chest pain, nausea and vomiting. He was taken to a hospital across the street from the Burbank studio and died several hours later from a torn aorta. Ritter was 54.

Connie Sellecca said it best: “Whenever John walked into or room, or when he walked onto a set, he lit up the room.”

You are absolutely right Connie. Only now, he lights up a completely different room in the heavens above. R.I.P. John

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