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Details That Surfaced After John Ritter’s Death

When cherished Hollywood legend, John Ritter, suddenly died on September 11, 2003. He left behind a huge collection of works for his fans to admire. The Three’s Company star became a household name after the show hit the air in 1977. Still, most folks tend to forget that he also had several successful stints performing on Broadwa. Not to mention his multiple forays onto the big screen.

Even though it’s roughly 18 years since his passing, John Ritter continues to remembered fondly by his fans, family, and friends. A lot of people that were close to him described him as being one of the kindest and hardest working actors in show business.

As the years go by, more and more information about Ritter’s life, death. And ever-so-pervasive influence on the industry continue to surface. Some of these stories come to us thanks to Ritter’s family members. While others have come to light through industry insiders that were lucky enough to work alongside him during his decades-long career as an actor. Regardless of the source, these tasty tidbits of info add several new layers to Ritter’s ongoing legacy. Join Facts Verse to know about the details that surfaced after John Ritter’s death.

The Problem With The Problem Child 

Problem Child released in 1990 and ended up becoming an unexpected hit for Universal Pictures. Taking in $72 million at the box office against a budget of just $10 million. Ritter the film’s most bankable star but if the studio had been left to their own devices. Another actor very easily could have landed the leading role.

Problem Child’s director Dennis Dugan had been friends with John since the days that they were both young, up-and-coming players trying to make it in Hollywood. When Dugan given the chance to direct Problem Child he knew immediately that he wanted the Three’s Company actor to take on the role of the adoptive father Ben Healy. There was just one little problem.

Universal insisted that he find an actor that was more famous than Ritter was. Ignoring their requests, Dugan tapped in Ritter anyway. And after getting the chance to skim over the script, he was on board. Surprisingly, the studio also reverted on their initial reservations and gave Ritter the okay to start working on the project.

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And don’t you dare think about going anywhere so soon. Stay tuned to find out what John Ritter’s biggest piece of advice was for his actor son Jason.

Lifesaving Words Of Wisdom 

Between the years of 1972 and 1978, Ritter had a recurring role on the sitcom The Waltons. During those years, the personable actor developed multiple close relationships with his fellow co-stars. Including the child star Mary Elizabeth McDonough.

McDonough once appeared on Oprah’s Where Are They Now Program where she revealed that Ritter once gave her a piece of advice that ended up saving her life.

The young actress had been struggling with her weight and self-image when John told her something that changed her life forever. She was under a lot of pressure to be perfect and to look and act a certain way. But all of that started taking a toll on her as it does on so many other young starlets in her shoes.

When Ritter noticed that she was struggling he pulled her aside to encourage her to start keeping a journal. That’s how he was able to come to terms with his own inner struggles. And all he wanted to do was to pass this easy little trick along to her so that she could start confronting her own issues. Journaling gave McDonough an outlet to face those body image issues. And today she’s a woman’s activist and life coach – so clearly she has come far.

Kids Break Things 

In 1984, John Ritter took home the only Emmy Award of his career for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for his role on Three’s Company. Not long after taking the trophy home and placing it on his mantle, his four-year-old son accidentally broke it.

Jason Ritter recalls seeing the Emmy on the shelf and taking it down to play with it. While he doesn’t remember specifically how it broke. He does know for a fact that at a certain point it definitely did break. He lived with those feelings of guilt for years. But in reality all that broken was a tiny portion of one of the angel’s wings.

Jason has followed in his father’s footsteps by also becoming an actor. And while he has nominated for two Emmy’s he has yet to win one. But it’s probably pretty safe to say that if he ever does. He’ll no doubt be keeping a close eye on his own child. Jason and his fiancee, actress Melanie Lynskey, welcomed their first child into the world in December 2018.

‘Stay Grounded’ 

When Jason decided that he wanted to be like his dad and pursue a career in acting. The former Three’s Company actor was more than eager to pass on some words of wisdom that he learned during his years of experience in the industry. His biggest piece of advice for his son was stressing the importance of staying grounded no matter how well or otherwise your career is going.

Reflecting on his father’s insights, Jason noted that John always stressed that the idea of celebrity. As nice as it can feel at times, can’t ever take precedent over what’s truly important in life like having solid friends. And maintaining a healthy family life.

Jason explained that his dad, even though he was a huge celebrity. Always maintained a level head and did his best to ‘tune out most of the noise’. Jason offered his own advice as well by reminding aspiring stars that whether people say bad stuff or good stuff about you. You’d be wise to not believe either.

He Was Funny That Way 

She’s Funny That Way, a romantic comedy starring Owen Wilson, Will Forte, and Jennifer Aniston hit theaters in 2015. But if history had played out differently, that ensemble would have included the likes of John Ritter. 

The film’s writer and director Peter Bogdanovich started working on the film in the late 1990s. He had previously gotten the opportunity to work with Ritter on his 1981 film They All Laughed. And wanted to reunite the former star by pitting him in the lead role. The film ended up in development hell as many rewrites and conflicting commitments made it very difficult to move forward with the project. But even so, the two men remained close.

In 2003 Bogdanovich was getting ready to do a guest spot on John’s 8 Simple Rules sitcom when Ritter started having severe chest pains. He was rushed to surgery as his doctors desperately tried their best to save him. Unfortunately, they had exhausted all of their options and Ritter died just hours later on the operating table. 

Grief-stricken over the loss of his close friend, Bogdanovich decided it best to shelve his ‘She’s Funny That Way’ script uncertain whether his film would ever see the light of day. Ten years later, after a chance run-in with Owen Wilson. The filmmaker rewrote the script and moved forward with its production. 

One Creepy Doll 

Even though the bulk of his credits were in comedies, Ritter occasionally branched out into other genres as well. Such was the case in 1998 when he signed on to star in the campy slasher flick Bride of Chucky. The fourth installment in the Child’s Play series of horror films.

In the film, John played a prideful and manipulative police chief who died at the hands of the devilish duo of dolls, Chucky and Tiffany. He met his demise when they shoot nails into his face before stabbing him. If you think that sounds gritty, keep in mind that it could have been a whole lot worse.

Screenwriter Don Mancini revealed at a Q&A event honoring the film’s 20th anniversary that Ritter’s onscreen death was originally going to be a lot more gruesome.

There was supposed to be a scene where Chucky and Ritter had one last face-off. The idea was for the nails embedded in Ritter’s face to be used one last time. He was supposed to be tossed out of the vehicle onto the highway where the cop car would roll over the nails, have a blowout, and explode in a ball of flames. But unfortunately, Mancini’s team wasn’t able to pull that one off.

Ritter Will Always Be Well Remembered 

Even though he’s been dead for 18 or so years, that hasn’t stopped Ritter’s former co-stars from singing praises about their fallen friend. In 2015, more than a decade after his passing, former Three’s Company castmate Susanne Somers dedicated her performance on the competition reality show Dancing With The Stars to the late actor. 

Then there’s Kaley Cuoco who played Ritter’s daughter on 8 Simple Rules before scoring the biggest role of her career thus far on The Big Bang Theory. She continues to hold her deceased TV dad in very high regard. She says that there is still not a day that goes by that he doesn’t bring a smile to her face.

Zach Braff, who starred alongside Ritter on Scrubs told his fans at the American Music Awards that Ritter was one of his biggest heroes. He shared that when he was a child Three’s Company was his first official intro into physical comedy. And he considers Ritter to be a master of that craft.

It’s always tragic whenever we learn of a celebrity’s death. But that pain is especially hard to reconcile with when that star died as young as Ritter was when he passed. John was just 54 years old when he drew his last breath. While you couldn’t really say that he was in his ‘prime’. He still had so much life ahead of him and showed little signs of slowing down. His absence is sorely missed. But his legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of those that he left behind.

But you know the drill. Now’s that time for you to speak up and let your voice be heard. Which show do you most closely associate with John Ritter, 8 Simple Rules or Three’s Company? Which one was your favorite? Let us know in the comments section below.

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