While he may have ended up being a huge success as Jack Tripper on “Three’s Company,” that didn’t stop John Ritter’s dad from being anxious about an acting career.
His father was Tex Ritter, a famous singing cowboy star. His mother, Dorothy Fay, was an actress.
John Ritter’s Father Warns Against Acting
Despite two parents who lived off the entertainment industry, they were anxious about having their own child do the same.
In an interview from 1985, the late John Ritter talked about becoming a North Hollywood guy and pursuing acting despite his father’s best wishes.
“[Tex Ritter] just didn’t want me to starve. He lived on chili for two years in New York and went through some snowy winters, broke, trying to make it … didn’t want that for his son. He wanted me to be something, you know, substantial like a brain surgeon or something. I couldn’t do it I was too nervous,” Ritter said.
Instead of following his father’s advice, Ritter started a successful career in Hollywood. He made guest appearances on “Dan August,” “Hawaii Five-O,” “M*A*S*H,” and several others. His biggest role was as Reverend Matthew Fordwick on the popular drama series, “The Waltons.”
After getting a sense for drama television, Ritter would instead land the starring role on a comedy sitcom, “Three’s Company,” in 1977. It is the American version of “Man About the House,” a British sitcom. He played a culinary student with two female roommates. They were portrayed by Joyce DeWitt and Suzanne Somers.
John Ritter Legacy Beyond ‘Three’s Company’
In 1977, John Ritter married Nancy Morgan the same year he started “Three’s Company.”
The couple had three children — Jason, Carly, and Tyler. Morgan and Ritter divorced in 1996 and he married Amy Yasbeck in 1999. They had one child together.
Unlike his own father, he was supportive of his children’s career in the entertainment world. His son Jason Ritter is an actor and producer. He is known for his roles in “Joan of Arcadia,” “The Class,” “Gravity Falls,” “Raising Dion,” “Parenthood,” and was the voice of Ryder in “Frozen 2.”
Tyler Ritter is also an actor. He is best known for his star role in “The McCarthys.”
Jason Ritter had talked candidly about his father’s impact, legacy, and humor-filled soul in an interview with Larry King in 2018.
“The certain drive that people like my dad have to make people laugh, it infiltrates every aspect of his life. He loved making friends laugh and he made jokes throughout every dinner and every hangout time …” Jason Ritter said.
John Ritter’s death was very sudden. It turned out that he had an aortic dissection, which unless caught early on, is often deadly. He was originally treated for a heart attack before doctors realized what it was. However, his tragic and devastating death allowed people to be more cautious of aortic dissections. Ritter’s brother was scanned to try to see if he had it. He had the early signs so he got surgery before it became life-threatening.
Jason Ritter also said that people would email his stepmom asking, “Can you scan me for the John Ritter thing?”