Actor John Ritter, Tex’s Son, Dead at 54

John Ritter, the actor son of Country Music Hall of Fame member Tex Ritter and former Grand Ole Opry “ambassadress” Dorothy Ritter, died Thursday (Sept. 11) at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was six days shy of his 55th birthday. Born Jonathan Southworth Ritter (Southworth was his mother’s maiden name), Ritter graduated from Hollywood High School and then earned a degree in drama from the University of Southern California. Although he gained considerable attention in his continuing role as a minister in the long-running series, The Waltons, his big break came in 1977 when he took the role of lecherous but frustrated bachelor Jack Tripper in Three’s Company. The series lasted until 1984. He was preparing for the second season of his television comeback vehicle, 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, when he died from a previously undiscovered heart defect. While Ritter was not strongly identified with country music, he did make at least one guest appearance on Hee Haw. Tex Ritter died in Nashville in 1974. In addition to his mother, John Ritter is survived by his wife, Amy Yasbeck, children Jason, Carly, Tyler and Stella, and older brother Thomas. 09/12/03