John Ritter Biography

John Ritter was a famous American Actor. Check out this biography to know about his childhood, life, achievements, works & timeline.

Quick Facts

Birthday: September 17, 1948

Nationality: American

Famous: Quotes By John Ritter Actors

Died At Age: 54

Sun Sign: Virgo

Also Known As: Jonathan Southworth Ritter

Born in: Burbank

Famous as: Actor

Height: 5'11" (180 cm), 5'11" Males

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Spouse/Ex-: Amy Yasbeck, Nancy Morgan

father: Tex Ritter

mother: Dorothy Fay

siblings: Tom Ritter

children: Carly Ritter, Jason Ritter, Stella Ritter, Tyler Ritter

Died on: September 11, 2003

place of death: Burbank

More Facts

education: University of Southern California, 1966 - Hollywood High School

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John Ritter was an American actor and son of renowned country singer and actor, Tex Ritter and his wife, Dorothy Fay who was also an actress. He was the father of actors Jason Ritter and Tyler Ritter. He was best known for playing the character of ‘Jack Tripper’ in ABC sitcom ‘Three’s Company’; he also won the Golden Globe Award and the Emmy Award in 1984 for his performance in the sitcom. John nurtured his acting skills since his college years when he majored in Theatre Arts. Prior to ‘Three’s Company’, he made small appearances on ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ and ‘The Waltons’ in 1970, ‘Hawaii Five-O’ in 1971 and ‘M.A.S.H.’ in 1973. He then formed his own production company in 1984. He acted in numerous films and television shows including ‘Problem Child’ (1990) and ‘Bad Santa’ (2003). He was nominated four times for Daytime Emmy Award for his voice work on the children's television series, ‘Clifford the Big Red Dog’. He was also called the "greatest physical comedian on the planet" by the famous American comedic actor Don Knotts. He died from an aortic dissection in 2003 soon after the production of an episode for the second season of ‘8 Simple Rules’.

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Childhood & Early Life
  • After graduation, he debuted on TV as a campus rebel in ‘Dan August’ (1970). His debut film was ‘The Barefoot Executive’ (1971).
  • He appeared as Reverend Matthew Fordwick in 18 episodes of ‘The Waltons’ (October 1972 - December 1976). In between, he also made guest appearances on few television series.
  • In 1976, he started acting in ABC sitcom ‘Three's Company’ which ran for 174 episodes (1977–1984); in the role of ‘Jack Tripper’ he became immensely popular.
  • In between ‘Three’s Company’, he also acted in television movie ‘Ringo’ (1978), appeared in movies such as ‘Americathon’ (1979), ‘Hero at Large’ (1980), and ‘They All Laughed’ (1981), and lent his voice in ‘Flight of Dragons’ (1982).
  • Next, he acted in ‘Hooperman’ (1987–1989) as Detective Harry. The role won him nominations for both Emmy and Golden Globe Awards. He also won a People's Choice Award for the role.
  • From 1992–1995, he acted in television series ‘Hearts Afire’ as John Hartman, an aide to a US Senator. He also starred in many television movies such as ‘Heartbeat’ (1993), ‘Gramps’ and ‘The Colony’ (1995), and ‘It Came from the Sky’ (1999).
  • In the same period, he acted in a number of films like ‘Skin Deep’ (1989), ‘Problem Child’ (1990), ‘Problem Child 2’ (1991), ‘Noises Off’ (1992), and ‘Sling Blade’ (1996).
  • From 2000–2003, he lent his voice to the title character in ‘Clifford the Big Red Dog’. He received four Emmy nominations for this role. During this period, he also acted in the series ‘8 Simple Rules’.
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Major Works
  • In sitcom ‘Three's Company’ he played the character of ‘Jack Tripper’, a chef who shares a room with two beautiful ladies and pretends to be gay to pacify the conservative landlords.
  • As ‘Detective Harry Hooperman’ in ‘Hooperman’ (1987), he owns an apartment building and employs ‘Susan Smith’ to manage it. A relationship evolves and the protagonist must balance love, work, and the pranks of the dog, Bijoux.
Awards & Achievements
  • He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6631 Hollywood Boulevard in 1983.
  • In 1984, John Ritter won the Emmy Award in the category ‘Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series’ for the sitcom ‘Three’s Company’. The same year, he also won the Golden Globe Awards for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy category for the same series.
  • In 1988, he won the People’s Choice Awards in Favourite Male Performer in a New TV Programme category for ‘Hooperman’.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • John Ritter married actress Nancy Morgan in 1977. Together they had three children, Jason, Carly, and Tyler. The couple divorced in 1996.
  • He married actress Amy Yasbeck in 1999. Together, they have a daughter named Stella.
  • On September 11, 2003 he complained of chest pains while rehearsing for ‘8 Simple Rules’. Doctors misdiagnosed and treated him for a heart attack and his condition worsened. They then diagnosed him with an aortic dissection. He died during the surgery.
  • He was born with a birth defect in his right eye known as a Coloboma.
  • He died on his youngest daughter Stella’s fifth birthday.
  • His final film, ‘Bad Santa’ (2003), was dedicated to him posthumously.

1. Sling Blade (1996)


2. The Fantastic Miss Piggy Show (1982)

  (Family, Comedy)

3. The Other (1972)

  (Horror, Thriller, Mystery, Drama)

4. Noises Off... (1992)


5. Bad Santa (2003)

  (Drama, Comedy, Crime)

6. They All Laughed (1981)

  (Romance, Comedy)

7. Skin Deep (1989)

  (Drama, Comedy, Romance)

8. Panic (2000)

  (Drama, Comedy, Crime)


Golden Globe Awards
1984 Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Comedy or Musical Three's Company (1976)
Primetime Emmy Awards
1984 Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Three's Company (1976)
People's Choice Awards
1988 Favorite Male Performer in a New TV Program Winner

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Last Updated
- September 15, 2017
John Ritter

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