Scott Hardie | September 12, 2003
Associated Press is reporting the death of John Ritter last night from a undiagnosed heart condition. (Here's the story, lest you think I was dreaming again.) When I was a kid, he was one my favorite actors, for his geniality and good nature, which I suppose endeared him to many kids; he was a popular family TV star lately. I happened to see "Problem Child" on opening day, and though it was certainly terrible, I appreciated the effort he made to be sincere, to transcend the material. He carried the movie by himself, if you ask me. As a teenager, I marveled at his transformation in "Sling Blade," so introverted and cautious, the opposite of Jack Tripper. Like many actors with the gift of comedic timing, drama probably came easily to him, and it's a shame he didn't get to do more of it. A year ago, when he was promoting the debut of "8 Simple Rules," I happened to catch a few minutes of him on Good Morning America, and the man seemed unleashed, bounding through the interview with the mania of Robin Williams or Jim Carrey. Besides riffing on the clothes worn by pedestrians loitering outside the studio, he spoofed his old character by humping Diane Sawyer and pretending it was a misunderstanding when Mr. Furley walked in. I laughed a lot in those few minutes, and instantly gained a new appreciation for an actor of whom I'd been very fond all my life. Even a few weeks ago, I was flipping channels and spotted him on some "Family Television Awards" show of some kind, accepting an acting award presented by his son Jason, cracking up the audience by exaggerating being humbled by the experience. The man had a natural gift for entertaining, and though he may have never cracked the big time (he was too nice for the movies), he has forever endeared himself to fans across three generations, including me. He'll be missed.

Today also marks the passing of another John, the Man in Black himself, on whom someone else (Erik?) would be better equipped to comment than me.

Scott Hardie | September 12, 2003
Oh, and another great memory: The "John Ritter... Secrets" on Conan O'Brien. (here)

Lori Lancaster | September 12, 2003
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Scott Hardie | September 12, 2003
Oh yeah, Clifford! Another part which made full use of Ritter's geniality. I was just thinking of "Stephen King's It", about the last film you'd think would find a place for a guy like Ritter, but it did.

Anthony Lewis | September 12, 2003
When I heard the news of John Ritter's passing, my heart sank as though I had lost a close friend. I'm astounded at the body of work that he has left behind. However, it's the role of Jack Tripper on "Three's Company" that I will most remember him for. As far as non-acting work, I will remember him for his tireless work on behalf of United Cerebal Palsy as the host of their annual telethon (with his former wife Nancy Morgan). If I remember correctly, his brother suffered from the disease. On top of Johnny Cash...this is truly a sad day.

Erik Bates | September 12, 2003
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Scott Hardie | September 12, 2003
One reporter was questioning whether "8 Simple Rules" would be canceled. (Uh, yeah. Bet on it.) He said that while TV shows have continued in the past beyond the deaths of their supporting actors, this was the first time a series lead had ever died while the show was in production. That sounds like the statement of someone with a very short memory, but I gotta admit, I can't think of any. Help me out here.

Lori Lancaster | September 12, 2003
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Jackie Mason | September 12, 2003
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Scott Hardie | September 13, 2003
Found one: Redd Foxx died in 1991 during the first season of "The Royal Family." It tried to go on without him but lasted only a few weeks.

Matthew Preston | September 14, 2003
Phil Hartman passed away during "News Radio". He was replaced by Jon Lovitz. I wouldn't really say he was a lead, but the show kind of fizzled out after that.
 

Matthew Preston | September 18, 2003
Freddie Prinze killed himself in 1977 during the taping of the show "Chico and the Man." He was replaced by a child, but the show didn't make it.
 
I give credit to my mom on this one. She remembered it right away when I discussed this topic with her.

Scott Hardie | September 24, 2003
I felt sadness at today's passing of Gordon Jump. It may have been Jan Smithers I had the crush on, but Jump was definitely the funniest WKRP cast member. I loved that show.

Erik Bates | September 26, 2003
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