September 17, 1948 – September 11, 2003
“Most people don’t know that I am an accomplished dramatic actor… But I’ve performed in several Shakespeare productions including Hamlet, except in this version, Hamlet lives in an apartment with two women, and has to pretend he’s gay so that the landlord won’t evict him.”
Talk about a lucky man. I mean, for an actor to be in a hit show like Three’s Company in the 70s, do a few other shows that flopped, and end up in another hit show, 8 Simple Rules, yeah. He was a lucky one. Of course, he was in The Waltons, and a favorite movie of mine which I would love to see again, Americathon. OH! And IT! The Stephen King miniseries which I loved. Beep Beep Richey! See his complete credits here.
I did remember that John was mentioned in that Hollywood Hooker book, You’ll Never Make Love in This Town Again, and I assumed that he saw hookers. I was wrong. In his chapter in the book, the hose bag named Tiffany that wrote the story says she met John in an airport. They chatted, then got together the next day. Within 30 minutes they were both nude, and continued to do the nasty for over 9 hours. She called him “unrelenting” and a “jackhammer.” He also had, according to her, a “beautifully shaped six-shooter.” Ew. They got together another couple of times, but she seemed more angry at the fact that John never asked her about herself, and wondered why she lived in such a shitty neighborhood. Heh. Whore.
Anyway, John was working on the set of his show 8 Simple Rules, Second season. Thursday September 11th (Oh NO. Not ANOTHER tragedy on that day.) They filmed on the Disney lot, where I had lunch recently with my friend Crystal. Crystal took me to places I never dreamed possible. We toured the Disney prop department, which was like every attic you wish you found when you were a kid.
I found Madonna’s casket
and portrait from Evita.
I also found a few caskets that I assume are from the upcoming Haunted Mansion movie.
I can’t wait for that. I hope Disney doesn’t fuck it up. Such a great idea, and with Don Knotts, almost a sure thing. We also passed this cool Disney administration building, where we ran into Rob Schneider.
Didn’t talk to him, mind you. Just noticed, whispered to each other, and went on. We also found Cubby’s old mouseketeer costume.
September 11th was also John’s daughter’s 5th birthday. From my sources, this is where John lived, in Brentwood.
Splain the sign on the gate.
Findadeath.com friend Edward clarifies:“The sign on the gate of his house says PACE (that’s Italian for peace).” Lovely house, with a cute little mailbox.
Findadeath.com friend Rick goes even further: during the demonstrations against the Iraq war earlier this year the most prominent flag in Austria (as in neighboring Italy, Germany etc.) was the rainbow peace flag with the inscription PACE, of Italian origin.
Monday, October 6, Findadeath.com friend Tom sent in a correction: The house pictured above is Ritter’s OLD house, this is the new one, just a stone’s throw from Lillibet Montgomery’s house, in Benedict Canyon. So, John really left from THIS house,
probably from this driveway,
and passing by this mailbox.
He went to work,
and they were on the soundstage with Henry Winkler, who was appearing on the show. Around 4:30, John seemed uneasy and went to his dressing room. Katey Sagal thought it was food poisoning. He was sweating and vomiting. Ritter was probably taken out this door,
off the lot,
to St. Josephs hospital emergency, just across the road.
Did you know that Disney has their own ambulance and fire department?
I suppose most studios probably do. As he was leaving, he gave his colleagues the thumbs up. He seemed to be in good spirits, considering he was sweating and vomiting. He went into surgery later that evening, and died on the operating room table, just after 10 p.m. He was only 54 years old, due to be 55 in six days. Weird thing, his wife’s birthday is September 12, and their wedding anniversary is the 18th. Bad month for the Ritter household.
John’s condition was called an aortic dissection. It is a break in the main artery that carries blood from the heart. The lining of the aorta tears, separating the middle layer of the vessel wall from the still intact outer layer.
The next day, the cast of the show got together for a love fest, to grieve their dead co-star (and no doubt talk about how scared shitless they were about their jobs). The studio decided to write John’s death into the show (think of the ratings!) and we’ll see what happens. Don’t hold your breath for Season 3. While we were there, we noticed this empty parking space, next to the stage.
On that same day, the head of Disney, Michael Eisner, sent this email out to all Disney staff:
Subject: John Ritter
Dear Fellow Cast Member:
All of us at The Walt Disney Company are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of our dear friend and colleague John Ritter, and our prayers go out to his wife and children.
Throughout his life and career, John shared his unique sense of humor, warm heart, and generous spirit of humanity with all of us. Just three weeks ago, I had the pleasure of spending some time with John and his 8 Simple Rules cast-mates while we taped a holiday spot for Toys for Tots. Even though we were working on one of their much-deserved days off, John’s enthusiasm and energy was as infectious as ever.
He will always be remembered most as a man who made us laugh, and often times, a man who used comedy to teach us something about ourselves and those around us. John will be greatly missed.
The country went into a tiz. Disney put a banner on the sign hanging on the Disney lot.
Johnny Grant, the honorary mayor of Hollywood ordered flowers for John’s star on the walk of fame.
It looked like Diana died again.
He had a private funeral on Monday the 15th, at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills (and I am sure they were salivating at the thought of having yet another immortal in their soil), and a memorial service for the public is being planned. My buddy Harry found his grave, and sent me this picture.
September 2004 – Findadeath.com friend Mama Bear sends us this: I know you don’t feel the same way that I do about John Ritter : ), but I stopped by his grave and paid my respects this weekend of his one year anniversary.
Someone had left an “8 Simple Rules, Season One”, hat for him and there were also flowers and notes.
I took a few pictures incase you wanted to post them.
Most days I don’t mind some of your rants, but about John Ritter, boy are you wrong!
More than just doing good work on a couple of shows, he lit up the screen first on The Waltons, then Three’s Company (which I saw a taping of during its first season, he was as nice to people as they say!), then Hooperman, then a string of excellent TV movies, guest shots (the would-be stepfather from hell on Buffy, etc.) and of course, 8 Simple Rules.
What unnerves most people is that he was relatively so young and giving of himself to every charity that needed him. All the what ifs about his getting sick and dying so fast, and the fact that what killed him could happen to anyone, that’s why so many are so distraught.
I’m sorry you don’t get it, but maybe if you go back and just watch at least one of his “Hollywood Squares”, you will.
By the way, I miss Johnny Cash too. Sincerely,
Julie T. Byer
Trivia from Findeath.com friend Andrew Glover:
John starred with another Findadeath celeb, Dorothy Stratten, in her last picture, They All Laughed. John and Dorothy wind up together at the end of the picture. She was murdered before the picture was released; at least he lasted longer.
More from Findadeath.com friend Dave St. Jean: I can’t believe you didn’t mention John’s critically acclaimed serious role as the gay guy in “Sling Blade”. It completely reversed my opinion of him (that mirrored yours in the opening of your story). Almost every review singles it out as an awesome performance. I now believe Ritter was a versatile talent (much like Jim Carrey) that got pigeonholed into a single genre of role because of Jack Tripper. At least Jack Tripper didn’t do to John what Batman did to Adam West.
Okay, a juvenile bit of fun, sent in by Findadeath.com friend Tracey: I sent you the from where you mighta… maybe.. kinda… been able to see John Ritter’s balls hanging out of his boxers on Three’s Company. (I think I can see them, but maybe it’s just wishful thinking!:))
Anyway, that is not why I am writing you. I was wondering if you had heard anything about them possibly trying to cast Ed O’Neill for guest shots on 8 Simple Rules. I think he is supposed to be playing Ritter’s brother or something. He comes around to help
out the family. So essentially they are putting Al and Peg back together!! Gotta love that! Anyway, I’m not sure if any of this is true… just something I heard and thought was interesting.
Thanks Tracey. Fun pics, and good gossip. Too good to be true, probably, but fun!
Findadeath.com friend Scott Schroeder sends us this info, in reference to the Ritter nut incident:
The most famous quip about this issue was uttered by John Ritter, who told the New York Observer when they asked him about the controversy: “I’ve requested that [Nickelodeon] air both versions, edited and unedited, because sometimes you feel like a nut, and sometimes you don’t.”
This just in December 2003, from Findadeath friend John:
I agree that John Ritter was no Lawrence Olivier or Charlie Chaplin…but hey, so what. I do think he was a genuinely nice guy. A few years back, I sat next to him and his family on an flight from LA-DC. He was going there to be the EMCEE for the 25th anniversary of Earth Day on the capitol mall. He had his wife and kids with him and they sat in coach. William Katt (The Greatest American Hero TV series) was also there with his little boy. There was a class full of middle schoolers in the forward cabin who soon discovered he was on the plane. After peeking at him from around the center cabin bathroom, one finally got up her courage and came to ask for an autograph. He gave it graciously and engaged in conversation with her. Soon the whole class was back there with him. He endured it cheerfully for the whole flight. I was quite impressed with his patience and good humor.
Also December 2003, from Findadeath friend Heather: I just checked out your John Ritter update (the Nick at Nite pix ;-)), and I just wanted to confirm that those are in fact what you say they are. About a year ago, when Three’s Company started airing on Nick at Nite, I saw John on Jay Leno or Conan (one of those late night shows). He said that he was wearing short shorts in an episode, and ‘his boys’ were hanging out there. At the time, the censors didn’t catch it, but Nick at Nite did after airing it the first time, and removed it. I just thought you might like that.
This just in, January 11, 2004 from Findadeath friend Sam: When you had the picture of the empty parking space on 8 Simple Rules Lot and said it was ironic….that’s not true. John Ritter never parked in that spot, he parked behind the lot with all the other crew and grips. I saw this on the ABC special they did of him.
Thanks for setting us straight on that, Sam!
UPDATE, September 10, 2004 – Ritter’s Family Sues Doctors:
John Ritter’s family is mourning the first anniversary of the actor’s death – and taking the medics they claim could have kept him alive to court. Ritter’s wife, actress Amy Yasbeck, and the couple’s kids have filed suit against doctors at St Joseph’s Medical Center in Burbank, California, claiming they misdiagnosed the aortic aneurysm that cost Ritter his life on September 11. Ritter complained of chest pains, tightness and vomiting before he collapsed on the set of the sitcom 8 Simple Rules a year ago. The family suit claims, “If the proper procedures had been followed to diagnose and treat Mr. Ritter’s symptons, he would be alive and well today.”
UPDATE, December 2004, from Findadeath friend Wayne:
Here is a photo, apparently of the last shoot…I got it from a Houston TV station’s ABC 13 web site. It appears the cast was doing some promo thingy.
April 2009 from Mark Langlois:
John Ritter was on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! back in April 2003 (five months before his death), and Jimmy jokingly promised John that he would not rest until John’s photo was added to the Hollywood High School mural of celebrity alumni – from which Ritter had been left out. On June 6, 2008, a 50 foot tall John Ritter was added to the mural (along the side) after campaigning by Kimmel – and corporate sponsors were gathered to fund the $74K painting and a $500K endowment to the school’s performing arts program. Ritter’s widow, Amy Yasbeck-Ritter & daughter Stella, plus Jimmy Kimmel & mural artist Eloy Torrez attended the ceremony.