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John Ritter

Actor, producer. Born Jonathan Southworth Ritter on September 17, 1948 in Burbank, California. Son of country singer and actor Tex Ritter and actress Dorothy Fay Southworth, Ritter and his older brother, Tom, grew up surrounded by show business. As a child, John had no aspirations of following in his parents' footsteps. He attended Hollywood High School and the University of Southern California where he majored in Psychology and minored in Architecture. After two years, however, he was persuaded to join a drama class taught by leading drama coach and actress Nina Foch. He soon changed his major to Theater Arts, graduating in 1971 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in drama.

In 1968-69, John appeared in several stage performances in Europe, including Love Letters, The Glass Menagerie and As You Like It. Returning stateside, Ritter made guest appearances on such popular TV shows as The Mary Tyler Moore Show in 1970, Hawaii Five-O in 1971 and M.A.S.H. in 1973 before landing the role of Jack Tripper in the 1977 hit comedy series Three's Company. The premise of three attractive singles sharing an apartment in the '70s hit a chord with TV audiences, who fell in love with the goofy and accident-prone boy next door. His performance earned him a Golden Globe in 1983 and an Emmy in 1984.

Along with hosting and starring in various TV specials, including ABC's John Ritter: Being of Sound Mind and Body, Ritter formed his own production company, Adam Productions, in 1984. It was with Adam Productions that Ritter produced and starred in the comedy-drama "Hooperman," for which he earned greater critical acclaim if less popular response.

On the big screen, Ritter appeared in a few comedies that played to his gift of physical humor. These included Real Men in 1987 and Problem Child in 1990. His films enjoyed modest success through the '90s. In 2001, he received the Theatre World Award for his role in The Dinner Party. In 2002, Ritter will star in the ABC comedy series, 8 Simple Rules for Dating my Teenage Daughter.

Off-camera, Ritter is devoted to the United Cerebral Palsy Foundation. Since 1977, he and his brother, Tom (who triumphed over the disease), have hosted the annual telethon, raising millions of dollars for the organization over the years.

Ritter was married to Nancy Morgan from 1977-1996. They have three children, Jason, Tyler and Carly. He married actress Amy Yasbeck in 1999, with whom he had a daughter, Stella, in 1998. In 2002, Ritter reconnected with network television audiences as the star of the ABC hit sitcom "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter" which was scheduled to begin its second season on Sept. 23. Ritter fell ill while filming an episode of the series, and died unexpectedly of an undetected arterial problem on September 11, 2003.

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