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Jason Ritter opens up about his father John Ritter’s legacy

Larry King NowMar 05 '18

Emmy-nominated actor Jason Ritter candidly discusses some of his favorite memories with his late father ‘Three’s Company’ star John Ritter, and opens up about the cause of his sudden death in 2003.


Larry King: Did you always want this career?

Jason Ritter: I did for the most part. There was a period of time when I was in high school that I got very shy and I didn't want anyone to look at me at all, but that went away.

Larry King: Was it a funny household?

Jason Ritter: It was a funny household, I have to say. My dad, the drive that certain people have, I don't have this drive necessarily, but the certain drive that people like my dad have to make people laugh, it infiltrates every aspect of his life. He loved making friends laugh, he made jokes throughout every dinner, and every hang out time afterwards. I think he put horrible things in his teeth at every single meal and said, "Do you think I need to see a dentist?" Every time, through years where it wasn't funny, he continued to do it until it was funny again just for the sheer perseverance of it all.

Larry King: How old were you when he passed?

Jason Ritter: I was 23.

Larry King: Did you know he was sick?

Jason Ritter: No.

Larry King: It was a shock.

Jason Ritter: It was a shock, yeah, it was just a--

Larry King: What happened?

Jason Ritter: He had an aortic dissection, so he had an aneurysm, the aortic wall started to balloon, and it weakens the wall, and then there was a tear on the inside.

Larry King: Suddenly?

Jason Ritter: Suddenly, yeah. I mean by the time it tears, even though he was right across the street from the hospital, by the time it tears, there's very little you can do to save a person, so the key in aortic dissections is to get scanned and make sure that nothing's happening to you. My uncle shortly after, my dad's brother, shortly after he got scanned, and it had started to happen on him, and they went in, and they built a little sort of mesh thing around it to reinforce the wall, and it saved his life. So, my stepmom has gotten a lot of emails from people who have said, "Hey, can you scan me for the John Ritter thing?" And their lives have been saved too.

Larry King: They treated it as a heart attack, and it wasn't, right?

Jason Ritter: Yes, exactly.

Larry King: Tex had it too, right?

Jason Ritter: That's what we think. We're not 100% sure, but there was sort of a thing that my dad had told us in his family that the men had all died of their first and last heart attack, and now we think the reason is because it wasn't ever a heart attack, but it presents as a heart attack.

Larry King: He was outside the hospital?

Jason Ritter: He was in the hospital. He made it to the hospital and they worked really hard, and it just was, yeah.