‘Three’s Company’: Why John Ritter Was Called the ‘Heir to Dick Van Dyke’

by Jon D. B.

According to Three’s Company producer George Sunga, John Ritter was the absolute “heir to Dick Van Dyke” for this remarkable reason.

The late John Ritter is remembered for many things. Chiefly his comedic talent, kindness, and classic sitcoms like Three’s Company. The show’s producer, George Sunga, however, will forever remember Ritter as far more.

In a 2017 interview from the Archive of American Television, Sunga details how truly remarkable John Ritter was – and for one specific reason.

“He was the heir to Dick Van Dyke,” Sunga offers right off the bat with deep conviction. His reason? Ritter’s prowess with physical comedy. For the Three’s Company producer, Ritter was the undisputed “heir to any other physical comedian to ever come along.”

“And prior to that, he played a reverand on [The Waltons]. A pretty young reverend, but none the less a reverend,” he continues within. “So we knew he was capable of doing that.”

Yet as for Ritter’s legendary comedic chops? Sunga says “I didn’t know how good he was in comedy until he just started! Everybody was captivated.”

In fact, Ritter’s co-stars Suzanne Somers and Joyce Dewitt had the very same to say of the late icon in a 2012 interview, citing him as the “greatest physical comedian” of their era.

This comes as no surprise for Three’s Company fans. John Ritter’s timeless work as Jack Tripper will forever remain as hilarious as it is heartwarming. And for Sunga, this all came directly from the soul of John.

“But besides that… What a sweet man. What a considerate man. Talented man!” the producer lauds of the late star.

‘Three’s Company’ Producer Sings Praises of John Ritter To This Day

On the whole, George Sunga has nothing but the highest of praise for John Ritter. From his physical comedy to his work ethic, the producer says Ritter had it all.

“It wasn’t luck,” Sunga says outright of Ritter’s success. “He really studied [acting] and worked on it. So it wasn’t by accident.”

“He just had a nice rhythm to everything,” he concludes of the late icon’s many talents with a smile. Watch the full interview with George Sunga below for much more on Three’s Company, courtesy of the Archive of American Television:

Tragically, John Ritter would die unexpectedly on September 12, 2003, taking the world and his loving family by surprise. According to WebMDs analysis on the day of his death, Ritter “died from an undetected flaw in his heart called an aortic dissection.”

At the time, Ritter was experiencing a resurgence in his career. His long-awaited return to TV comedy came with sitcom 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, which was proving a hit. The show would not survive Ritter’s tragic death.