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John Ritter : Biography, Pictures, Photos, Trivia, Address, Filmography (Hooperman, Three's Company)

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John Ritter

Detective Harry Hooperman in Hooperman, Jack Tripper in Three's Company

Photos John Ritter Birth name: Jonathan Southsworth Ritter
Birth date: 1948/09/17
Date of death : 2003/09/11 (55 years old)
Birth place : Burbank Californie
Height: 1.80 m

French Traduire

Biography for John Ritter

The son of a legendary country singing musician/actor (Tex) and his wife (Dorothy Fay), who was also an actress, John Ritter started out his life as Jonathan Southworth Ritter, who was born in Burbank, California, on September 17, 1948. After his father married Dorothy Fay Southworth in 1941, the couple had their first child, Tom, who had been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and became a lawyer, but John was destined to follow in his parents footsteps. He was enrolled at Hollywood High School, where he was a student body president, and became the most popular student ever.

After graduation from high school, he later attended the University of Southern California, where he majored in Psychology and minored in Architecture. Also in 1966, before attending college, his first appearance on TV was as a contestant on "Dating Game, The" (1965), on which he won a vacation to Lake Havasu, Arizona. After making his very first cameo appearance and a couple of years of attending school, he was induced to join an acting class taught by Nina Foch. He changed his major to Theater Arts, graduating in 1971 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Drama. He also studied acting with Stella Adler at the Harvey Lembeck Comedy Workshop. Between 1968 and 1969, he appeared in a series of stage plays in England, Scotland, Holland and in Germany. His father was entertaining troops in Germany at the same time that his son was performing at an air base there.

His acting debut was on an episode of "Hawaii Five-O" (1968), playing various roles. On "Dan August" (1970), he played a campus revolutionary, in a film which also starred Burt Reynolds and Norman Fell, who later starred with him on, "Three's Company." Then, he appeared as Reverend Matthew Fordwick on "The Waltons" (1972). His guest-starring spot was so popular, that he was interested in having a recurring role on the show. But, he continued making more guest appearances on "Medical Center" (1969), "M*A*S*H" (1972), "The Bob Newhart Show" (1972), "The Streets of San Francisco" (1972), "Kojak" (1973), and, once again, a preacher on "Rhoda" (1974), "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" (1970), among many others. While working on "The Waltons" (1972), he received word that his legendary father had passed away, just a day after New Years' Day in 1974.

The following year in late 1975, ABC picked up the rights for a new series on a British sitcom about, "A Man About The House," and Ritter beat out 50 people including a young Billy Crystal, to get a major role. The first pilot was trashed, and in order for it to be improved, Joyce DeWitt, an unknown actress, played the role of Janet Wood, the following year, along with Susan Lanier as the dumb blonde, Chrissy Snow. Unlike the first pilot, it did better but the producers still needed a change and Suzanne Somers came to the show, at the very last minute to play Chrissy. The series, "Three's Company" (1977), was born. When it debuted as a mid-season replacement, it became a ratings hit, like many other sitcoms of the 70s, and it focused mainly on his character, Jack Tripper, an admirable chef who lived in an apartment with two attractive ladies, while pretending to be gay.

Before playing Jack Tripper on the small screen, he also made his box office debut in the movie Nickelodeon (1976). Two years later, he worked with his close friend, Jenny Sullivan, in Breakfast in Bed (1978), and the following year, played Pres. Chet Roosevelt in the movie Americathon (1979). Also in 1977, he and his brother emceed the Annual United Cerebral Palsy Telethon (a neurological condition particularly close to their hearts because of Tom's triumph over it) and racked up millions of dollars for the cause in the 15+ years he ran the telethon. He also became more popular with movies such as Hero at Large (1980), and They All Laughed (1981). In 1980, when "Three's Company" (1977) was sold into syndication, the show became a ratings phenomenon, during its last 2 years. However, at the height of Ritter's popularity, he won a Golden Globe in 1983 for Best Performance by an Actor, after being nominated twice for Best TV Actor in a Musical-Comedy Series, and one year later, he won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor In a Comedy Series, after being nominated twice. By its eighth season, the show began to drop in the ratings and was cancelled in 1984. After the cancellation he starred in its spin-off, called, "Three's A Crowd," (1984), starring Mary Cadorette, but it lasted for only one season.

His first animated movie was that of a man turning into a dragon, whose job was to defeat Ommendon in _Flight of Dragons, The (1986)_ , on which he played Peter Dickinson. The following year, he came back to series television as: Detective Harry Hooperman in the comedy/drama, "Hooperman" (1987), for which he was nominated for both an Emmy and a Golden Globe in 1988, for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, and won a People's Choice Award for his role. During and after his role on "Hooperman," he continued doing more box-office films, from 1987-1992, such as Skin Deep (1989), in which he played a womanizing, drunken, alcoholic writer whose life seemed to be falling apart at the seams. Also, in this movie, he was pleased to see his mentor, acting coach Nina Foch, and the two worked closely together, after all the years he'd been in school.

In the two-part movies, Problem Child (1990), and in Problem Child 2 (1991), he played the surrogate father of a rebellious little boy who continues to wreck havoc unto the family and to make fun out of everybody. He also worked on Noises Off... (1992), and _Stay Tuned_ (1992), before returning to another TV series called "Hearts Afire" (1992). On this sitcom, he played John Hartman, who was an aide to a senator whose life was also complicated by his girlfriend's father, and Billy Bob Thornton played Billy Bob Davis. Like his first series, "Three's Company" (1977), the show had well-written scripts, but failed to reach a massive audience, which led to its cancellation in 1995. While he was working on "Hearts Afire", he played Ward Nelson on North (1994). Then, he had the opportunity to work with former "Hearts Afire" actor Billy Bob Thornton, in the movie, Sling Blade (1996), in which Ritter played the gay manager of a department store and Thornton was Karl Childers, a institutionalized man who was hospitalized since the childhood murder of his mother and her lover. Thornton had wrote and directed the movie, giving Ritter/Thornton the best reviews. He provided the voice of Clifford in the PBS animated series "Clifford the Big Red Dog" (2000).

He was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award, 3 times in a row, making it seven Emmy nominations in his 35-year career. In 1999, he was also nominated for an Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series, playing the role of George Madison on an episode of "Ally McBeal" (1997). Soon afterwards, he landed his last television role in "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter" (2002), based on the popular book. On this sitcom, he played Paul Hennessey, a loving, yet rational dad, who laid down the ground rules for his three children, and dealt with such topics as curfews, sex, drugs, getting arrested, etc. The show was a ratings winner in its first season and won a People's Choice Award for Best New Comedy and also won for Favorite Comedy Series by the Family Awards! While working "8 Simple Rules", he also starred in his second-to-last film, Manhood (2003). That same year, he first felt ill while rehearsing on set, and was rushed across the street to Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California, where he was diagnosed with an aorta dissection, which meant in layman's terms, an unrecognized flaw of the heart. He underwent surgery and died on September 11, 2003, just days shy of his 55th birthday. In the years that he worked, John Ritter was a loving comedian and a passionate actor, who wanted to make everybody laugh. After his death, his eldest son, Jason, following in his father's footsteps, plays the role of Kevin, a young man who was a high school sport star but is now paralyzed for life in the highly-rated drama "Joan of Arcadia" (2003).


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Title Role
Stanley's Dinosaur Round-Up (2006) (V) Great Uncle Stew
Clifford's Really Big Movie (2004) (voice) Clifford the Big Red Dog
Bad Santa (2003) Bob Chipeska
8 Simple Rules... for Dating My Teenage Daughter Paul Hennessy (14 episodes, 2002-2003)
King of the Hill Eugene Grandy (3 episodes, 1997-2003)
Manhood (2003) Eli
Scrubs Mr. Sam Dorian / ... (2 episodes, 2002)
Breaking News Lloyd Fuchs (1 episode, 2002)
Man of the Year (2002) Bill
Felicity Mr. Andrew Covington (7 episodes, 2000-2002)
Tadpole (2002) Stanley Grubman
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Dr. Richard Manning (1 episode, 2002)
The Ellen Show Percy Moss (1 episode, 2002)
Nuncrackers (2001) (V) Narrator
Tucker Marty (1 episode, 2001)
Clifford the Big Red Dog Clifford the Big Red Dog (2 episodes, 2000-2003)
Terror Tract (2000) Bob Carter (segment Make Me An Offer)
TripFall (2000) Tom Williams
Lost in the Pershing Point Hotel (2000) Christian Therapist
Family Law Father Andrews (1 episode, 2000)
Batman Beyond Dr. David Wheeler (1 episode, 2000)
Chicago Hope Joe Dysmerski (1 episode, 2000)
Panic (2000) Dr. Josh Parks
Lethal Vows (1999) (TV) Dr. David Farris
It Came from the Sky (1999) (TV) Donald Bridges
Touched by an Angel Mike O'Connor / ... (2 episodes, 1996-1999)
Holy Joe (1999) (TV) Joe Cass
Veronica's Closet Tim (1 episode, 1999)
Dead Husbands (1998) (TV) Dr. Carter Elston
The World's Greatest Magic 5 (1998) (TV) Host
Ally McBeal George Madison (2 episodes, 1998)
Bride of Chucky (1998) Police Chief Warren Kincaid
I Woke Up Early the Day I Died (1998) Robert Forrest
Shadow of Doubt (1998) Steven Mayer
Chance of a Lifetime (1998) (TV) Tom Maguire
Montana (1998) Dr. Wexler
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Ted Buchanan (1 episode, 1997)
Over the Top Justin Talbot (1 episode, 1997)
Hacks (1997/I) Hank
A Gun, a Car, a Blonde (1997) Duncan/The Bartender
Nowhere (1997) Moses Helper
Dead Man's Gun (1997) (TV) Harry McDonacle (segment The Great McDonacle)
A Child's Wish (1997) (TV) Ed Chandler
Mercenary (1997) (TV) Jonas Ambler
Loss of Faith (1997) (TV) Bruce Simon Barker
The World's Greatest Magic 3 (1996) (TV) Host
For Hope (1996) (TV) (uncredited) Date #5
Sling Blade (1996) Vaughan Cunningham
Wings Stuart Davenport (1 episode, 1996)
Unforgivable (1996) (TV) Paul Hegstrom
Totally Animals (1996) (TV) Host
NewsRadio Dr. Frank Westford (1 episode, 1995)
The Colony (1995) (TV) Rick Knowlton
Gramps (1995) (TV) Clarke MacGruder
Hearts Afire John Hartman (3 episodes, 1992-1994)
Dave's World John Hartman (1 episode, 1994)
North (1994) Ward Nelson
The Only Way Out (1993) (TV) Jeremy Carlisle
Heartbeat (1993) (TV) Bill Grant
Stay Tuned (1992) Roy Knable
Noises Off... (1992) Garry Lejeune/Roger Tramplemain
Fish Police (1992) TV Series (voice) Inspector Gil
Anything But Love Patrick Serreau (5 episodes, 1991)
Problem Child 2 (1991) Ben Healy
The Summer My Father Grew Up (1991) (TV) Paul
The Cosby Show Ray Evans (1 episode, 1991)
The Real Story of O Christmas Tree (1991) (V) Piney
The Dreamer of Oz (1990) (TV) L. Frank Baum
It (1990) (TV) Ben 'Haystack' Hanscom
Problem Child (1990) 'Little' Ben Healy
My Brother's Wife (1989) (TV) Barney
Skin Deep (1989) Zachary 'Zach' Hutton
Tricks of the Trade (1988) (TV) Donald Todsen (Cameo)
Mickey's 60th Birthday (1988) (TV) Dudley Goode
Real Men (1987) Bob Wilson/Agent Pillbox, CIA
Hooperman (1987) TV Series Detective Harry Hooperman (unknown episodes)
Prison for Children (1987) (TV) David Royce
The Last Fling (1987) (TV) Phillip Reed
A Smoky Mountain Christmas (1986) (TV) Judge Harold Benton
Unnatural Causes (1986) (TV) Frank Coleman
Living Seas (1986) (TV) Host
Letting Go (1985) (TV) Alex
Three's a Crowd Jack Tripper (22 episodes, 1984-1985)
Pryor's Place (1 episode, 1984)
Three's Company Jack Tripper / ... (171 episodes, 1977-1984)
Love Thy Neighbor (1984) (TV) Danny Loeb
The Love Boat Dale (3 episodes, 1977-1983)
Sunset Limousine (1983) (TV) Alan O'Black
In Love with an Older Woman (1982) (TV) Robert
Pray TV (1982) (TV) Tom McPherson
The Flight of Dragons (1982) (voice) Peter Dickenson
Insight Frankie (1 episode, 1981)
They All Laughed (1981) Charles Rutledge
Wholly Moses! (1980) Satan (The Devil)
The Comeback Kid (1980) (TV) Bubba Newman
The Associates Chick (1 episode, 1980)
Hero at Large (1980) Steve Nichols
The Ropers Jack Tripper (1 episode, 1979)
Americathon (1979) President Chet Roosevelt
Leave Yesterday Behind (1978) (TV) Paul Stallings
Breakfast in Bed (1978) Paul
Ringo (1978) (TV) Marty
Hawaii Five-O Mike Welles / ... (2 episodes, 1971-1977)
The Waltons Rev. Matthew Fordwick / ... (18 episodes, 1972-1976)
Nickelodeon (1976) Franklin Frank
Phyllis Paul Jameson (1 episode, 1976)
Rhoda Jerry Blocker / ... (2 episodes, 1975-1976)
Starsky and Hutch Tom Cole (1 episode, 1976)
The Rookies Hap Dawson (1 episode, 1975)
Mary Tyler Moore Reverend Chatfield (1 episode, 1975)
The Night That Panicked America (1975) (TV) Walter Wingate
The Streets of San Francisco John 'Johnny' Steiner (1 episode, 1975)
Barnaby Jones Joe Rockwell (1 episode, 1975)
Petrocelli John Oleson (1 episode, 1975)
The Bob Crane Show Hornbeck (1 episode, 1975)
Mannix Cliff Elgin (1 episode, 1975)
Movin' On Casey (1 episode, 1975)
The Bob Newhart Show Dave (1 episode, 1974)
Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law Greg (1 episode, 1974)
Kojak Kenny Soames (1 episode, 1974)
H Pvt. Carter (1 episode, 1973)
The Stone Killer (1973) Officer Mort
Bachelor-at-Law (1973) (TV) Ben Sykes
Medical Center Ronnie (1 episode, 1973)
The Other (1972) Rider Ganon
Evil Roy Slade (1972) (TV) Minister
Scandalous John (1971) Wandell
The Barefoot Executive (1971) Roger


Attended Hollywood High, graduating in 1966.

Married Amy Yasbeck in Wilmington, Ohio. The two had lived together for a couple of years. [18 September 1999]

During an interview on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien", Ritter claimed that he chose the name "Vaughan Cunningham" for his character in "Sling Blade" based on an in-joke with the cast of Happy Days.

He appeared as a contestant on The Dating Game in 1967.

He was a scout (but not an Eagle).

Studied acting with Stella Adler and Nina Foch.

Studied four years at the Harvey Lembeck Comedy Workshop.

Attended the University of Southern California, where he graduated with bachelor of fine arts in theater arts in 1971.

Starred with wife Amy in an episode of The Cosby Show 10 years prior to their marriage. Coincidently they played a husband and wife expecting their first child.

Member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity.

His talent for physical schtick was heralded by TV's top comedy icon Lucille Ball, who hosted a tribute to John's talent on "Three's Company." John later appeared in an episode of Lucille's last comedy series "Life with Lucy." In that episode, Lucy claims that during the shooting of a scene, it was the third time in her entire career that she had to yell "cut" because he broke her up laughing.

His father, cowboy star Tex Ritter, tried to steer him away from an acting career but lived long enough to rejoice in seeing him in a recurring role on "The Waltons," which was Tex's favorite TV program.

Has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame next to that of his father.

Was rehearsing lines with fellow actor Henry Winkler when he collapsed and died soon afterwards.

One of John's last public appearances was at Disney's Prime Time Weekend at Disney's California Adventure Park, 4 days before his death.

Was the first guest of the Wayne Brady Show

Died in the same hospital he was born in.

His older brother, Tom, has Cerebral Palsy. He helped with the telethon in aid of the disease.

At the same time he entered Hollywood High School, he fell in love with The Beatles.

He beat out 50 actors, including Billy Crystal to star in "Three's Company."

His favorite musical group was The Beatles and he even appeared on Ringo Starr's TV special Ringo in 1978!

Paul Hennessy, Ritter's character on "8 Simple Rules... for Dating My Teenage Daughter" (2002), was ranked #48 in TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time" [20 June 2004 issue].

Buried at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, 6300 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles, California (actually borders Glendale and Griffith Park). Lot 1622 Court of Liberty near Stan Laurel's gravesite.

Was nominated for an Emmy, for best actor in a comedy, for "8 Simple Rules" one year after his death, after only appearing in 3 episodes.

Died one day before the death of country music legend Johnny Cash. Incidentally, his father, Tex, had written several songs for Johnny during the 50s and 60s.

Ended 20 year rift with his "Three's Company" (1977) co-star Suzanne Somers shortly before his death.

On an episode of _"8 Simple Rules... for Dating My Teenage Daughter" (2002)_ , he and the cast did a spoof of his classic TV Series, "Three's Company" (1977). In the spoof, he played Mr. Roper, Katey Sagal played Helen Roper, Kaley Cuoco and Amy Davidson played Janet and Chrissy respectively, Billy Aaron Brown played Jack and Martin Spanjers played Larry. At the end of the episode, Don Knotts who played Mr. Furley in "Three's Company," reprised his role in one short scene. It was, not surprisingly, Ritter's favorite episode.

In "Three's Company" (1977) and "Three's a Crowd" (1984), he played a straight man pretending to be gay. In Perceptions (2005), his son, Jason Ritter, played a gay man pretending to be straight.

His final film, Bad Santa (2003), was dedicated to his memory.

After his death, the Sept 29 issue of People Magazine featured 2 different covers - issues distributed to the central and southwest US (except Florida) showed Johnny Cash who had also recently passed away, the rest displayed a photo of John Ritter taken by veteran photojournalist Michael Germana. Appropriately, he was waving goodbye.


Amy Yasbeck (18 September 1999 - 11 September 2003) (his death) 1 child, Nancy Morgan (16 October 1977 - September 1996) (divorced) 3 children

Son of Tex Ritter and actress Dorothy Fay.

4 children: Jason Ritter (born February 17, 1980), Carly Ritter (born March 1, 1982), Tyler Ritter (born 1984) and Stella Ritter (born September 11, 1998).

Brother of Tom Ritter

Author of the card

  • Creation date: 01/07/2003 by abdest

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