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Creator / John Ritter

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"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."

Jonathan Southworth Ritter (September 17, 1948 September 11, 2003) was an American actor, voice over artist and comedian perhaps best known for playing Jack Tripper and Paul Hennessy in the ABC sitcoms Three's Company and 8 Simple Rules respectively.

John Ritter was born in Burbank, California, the son of Dorothy Fay, an actress, and singing cowboy/matinée-star Tex Ritter. Ritter headlined several stage performances before his Star-Making Role in the hit sitcom Three's Company (the Americanized version of the 1970s British Television series Man About the House) in 1977, playing a single ladies' man and culinary student, Jack Tripper, who lives with two female roommates while pretending to be gay to appease their conservative land lords (the first played by Norman Fell, the second by Don Knotts). Ritter became known as one the most down-to-earth and friendly guys, as well as an exceptional physical comedian.

On September 11, 2003, Ritter felt ill while rehearsing scenes for the second season of 8 Simple Rules, sweating profusely, vomiting and complaining of having chest pains. He was taken across the street to Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center (the same hospital he was born in). Doctors believed Ritter suffered a heart attack, but it turned out it was actually an aortic dissection, and he died that evening around 10:45 pm PST. He was 54 years old, six days short of his 55th birthday.

Ritter was interred at Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles. His mother died less than two months later. 8 Simple Rules integrated his untimely death into the show and it could be argued that his memory is what helped the show continue on for several more seasons. Scrubs also featured the offscreen death of his character (J.D.'s father) with a similar ode to his legacy.

Ritter is remembered for his extremely likeable characters and how well he performed physical comedy. Don Knotts (with whom Ritter Co-Starred on Three's Company) once called him the "Greatest physical comedian on the planet". As a son of Hollywood and known to be an easy-to-work-with Nice Guy, he is still remembered fondly by co-stars and friends. His son Jason Ritter went on to star in The Event and Gravity Falls.

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