RIP - John Ritter


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JFisher282

LOS ANGELES (Sept. 12) - Emmy award-winning actor John Ritter, who gained fame
playing bumbling and lovable characters in a pair of television comedies
decades apart, has died suddenly due to a previously undetected arterial
problem, his representatives said on Friday.

Ritter, who was 54, collapsed on Thursday evening while filming "8 Simple Rules
for Dating My Teenage Daughter," the ABC television comedy which had
reinvigorated his career and was a centerpiece of the network's upcoming fall
season.

The former star of "Three's Company" was taken to Providence St. Joseph
hospital in Burbank, California, across from the studio where he had been
working.

Surgeons at the hospital were unable to save him, and he died from a
"dissection of the aorta," which results from an unrecognized flaw in a main
artery from the heart, his publicists, Wolf-Kasteler & Associates Public
Relations, said.

Ritter was best known for his portrayal of Jack Tripper in the 1970s situation
comedy "Three's Company," which won him Emmy, Golden Globe and People's Choice
awards.

A prolific actor, Ritter recently reconnected with television audiences as the
star of "8 Simple Rules."

Ritter played Paul Hennessy in the family comedy about a father dealing with
his precocious daughters which was one of the Walt Disney Co.-owned network's
hits in the 2002 season.

"All of us at ABC, Touchstone Television and The Walt Disney Company are
shocked and heartbroken at the terrible news of John's passing. Our thoughts
and prayers are with his wife and children at this very difficult time," ABC
said in a statement.

Born into a Hollywood family, John Ritter was the son of country singer and
actor Tex Ritter and graduated from Hollywood High School, where he was student
body president.

He graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in drama
and went on to act in film, television and on the stage.

He is survived by his wife, Amy Yasbeck and their daughter, Stella and three
children, Carly, Tyler and Jason, from his first marriage to Nancy Morgan.

09/12/03 06:30 ET

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