Everyone Remembers September 11th for the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in New York (or maybe you read about it in school, we have reached old status). And that should be what you remember but let’s not also forget on this day back in 2003, we lost one of the most down-to-earth funny entertainers that lived, John Ritter.
Importance Of Ritter on a Young Bryan:
I am writing this from a perspective of a 29-year-old who grew up watching John Ritter on 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter (the original title). As a child/teenager, Ritter was this ideal cool goofy dad. He reminded me of Tim Allen in Home Improvement or William Russ in Boy Meets World. They were Father figures who were goofy, caring but could be serious when need be. John Ritter as Paul Hennessy was relatable to me. I guess it was because I grew up a Red Wings fan and wanted to be a sportswriter someday and Ritter’s character was that of a dad raising his kids in Michigan as a sports writer and he would often wear a Michigan Wolverines sweater, which by the way I ended up buying years later not because of the team but because of this character. That’s the impact this character and the guy portraying it had on me.
I never grew up knowing Ritter through Threes Company, how could I, I wasn’t born. The same way I didn’t know the cast of Golden Girls before that show or the same way I only realized Michael J Fox was not just cast in Back to the Future as an unknown, but he was a teen on Family Ties, again before my time. It’s like today’s generation not knowing Miley Cyrus or Selena Gomez were Disney stars. However, I remember seeing the re-runs at my nan’s or when my mom chooses to turn on CMT. To be honest, I’m not really a fan, it’s before my time but I still enjoy Ritter’s acting and character work. I would have loved to see him on Whose Line Is It Anyway as a guest host or performer as I think he would have fit in nicely there. He had wit and charm and just seemed to give off a very loveable and positive vibe. Those that worked with him have said the same.
John Ritter with co-stars Joyce DeWitt and Suzanne Somers (Three’s Company)
Why Did I Write This Article?
This idea of this article came after watching ABC’s Superstars where they did an hour-long piece on Ritter’s career and hearing friends, fellow castmates, and other Hollywood celebrities remember Ritter. Jimmy Kimmel mentioned he was right up there with Tom Hanks in terms of an actor you just could not hate, which I agree, every interview, every behind the scene blooper the guy just comes across nice and genuine. Kaley Cuoco who played Bridgit, one of the daughters on 8 Simple Rules even recalls that the day after his death as all the cast and crew are telling stories about Ritter, the mailman pipes up and says Ritter always said hello to me which Kaley replies “Of course he did”. The man was just friendly.
Ritter with Kaley Cuoco on 8 Simple Rules
Over this special we heard the impact he left on their lives and Hollywood, did you know Ritter was in 100 television series and films. That is wild. I know his legacy is mostly from Three’s Company and you may have a movie or two you can recall him in and say Hey he was really good in that, but even though he was only on the show for a short period of time, my memory of Ritter is that of Paul Hennessy. He is the first actor that I can say I took a deep interest in and found it interesting that there is a generation out there that saw him play a teenager/early adult on a show and then seen him play a father, in my world it is similar to growing up with Cory Matthews on Boy Meets World and then seeing him as a father on Girl Meets World. I believe one actor mentioned it was like Ritter was raising Janet and Chrissy from Three’s Company. And I guess it kind of was. But the chemistry they all shared on set was something special, go watch the bloopers, he has them all in stitches.
Ritter playing the Dad on 8 Simple Rules felt like Kaley was Suzanne and Amy was Joyce
What Could Have Been?
My takeaway from all this is imagine if John Ritter never passed away, would we still see him acting? Would he be producing? Would HE have been Penny’s Dad on The Big Bang Theory, I would like to think so as they casted Katey Sagal for the mother, (who was the mother on 8 Simple Rules). How much longer would 8 Simple Rules have lasted? In my mind I say 6-7 seasons. No offense to David Spade and James Garner who they brought in after Ritter’s passing, but the show just was not the same. So if the show did last longer with Ritter, would Kaley then even be interested in the Big Bang Theory? Would they have tried another revival of Three’s Company? Who Knows, there are a lot of What If’s out there but there is no questioning John Ritter’s impact or legacy as an actor or person, to say you can be remembered by different generations for different roles is pretty special. But to be in a class with Tom Hanks, Keanu Reeves, Robin Williams, and Jim Carrey as being some of the nicest celebrities out there I think speaks more than any film or television series you’d see Ritter in. Hell even Seth MacFarlane , you know the guy who created Family guy and holds nothing back when making fun of celebrities had a soft spot for Ritter . Seth went as far as to rewrite one of his jokes. The joke in the show is supposed to be Chris telling Meg, who is watching 8 Simple Rules, “That show stopped being funny when they killed the Dad”, instead Seth changed it to make fun of George Lopez and his show, sorry George.
If you get the chance go watch ABC’s Superstars on Ritter or go through YouTube and look up bloopers or clips Ritter is in. We truly lost a great character both on and off-screen on this day, September 11th, 2003.
Here is a link to some 8 Simple Rules Bloopers: