This crossover is incredible in quite a number of ways.
Big Bang Theory join Team Ritter to raise funds for aortic health research
My friends over at the John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health work tirelessly on raising awareness and funds for their research and they’re about to run the New York Marathon to raise funds. It’s fantastic to see The Big Bang Theory putting their support behind it and becoming part of the Ritter Crew Kaley Cuoco starred in 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter together with John Ritter before Big Bang. Simon Helberg and Jason Ritter were college room mates, and Jim Parsons has often and famously spoken of his admiration for John Ritter and the fact that John has been one of the greatest influences on him. Three’s Company is my favourite sitcom in the world, followed by Big Bang Theory and I think it’s because of the influences of Three’s Company on Big Bang Theory. I love this!!! You can also become a Team Ritter support crew member! Here’s how: For $15 you can purchase a shirt and all funds go directly to the John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health. Then share your pic with us on social media using the hashtag #TeamRitter to help raise awareness and save lives. www.rittercrew2014.com
One of the very first people I interviewed on this blog was Richard Kline. At the time he was just beginning preparation for his new role of Liberace in “All That Glitters”. Now, it’s about to start! Richard played the character ofLarry Dallas, the sleazy used car salesman and best friend ofJack Tripper(John Ritter) on my favourite sitcom,Three’s Company, and when I heard he is about to star in a Broadway production ofAll That Glitters, aboutLiberace, I fired off an email asking him for an interview. I was overjoyed when he replied to say I may send him questions – many people don’t bother to reply – and was even more happy when I actually did get answers to my questions. I have decided to republish the interview in honour of this. PS: You are about to star in All That Glitters, the story of Liberace, as Liberace! Liberace was a flamboyant character and the role will involve singing and playing the piano – how are you enjoying this multifaceted role? RK: The role contains some wonderful ballads and a bit of piano playing. The script is at times hilarious and dramatic–especially in the second act where I play Liberace at the end of his life
PS: How did this role come about and how are preparations going?
RK: I auditioned for the role which was arranged by my agent. I have had interviews and a publicity photo shoot. I am also practicing the piano every single day! PS: What specifically would you like to share about this exciting role? RK: This musical charts the life of Liberace from boyhood prodigy, to mid-life extraordinary success , to the waning moments of his life and relationship with Scott Thorson–whose affair with Liberace was the subject of “Behind the Candelabra” on HBO. In the first part of the first act I play Liberace’s father and thus get to explore that toxic relationship which marked his early years.
PS: You’ve played in a variety of acting roles, and to have played in straight pieces such as Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” and numerous comedy parts shows your adaptability. I must confess to my own knowledge of Liberace’s highly coloured style of piano playing being limited, and I turned to Jean Collen, a respected Johannesburg musician, for assistance in preparing questions. She stressed how versatile she thought you were in being able to play such a variety of roles. What is your favourite medium – stage or TV, straight or comedy roles? RK: My first love is the theater and I am at home with either drama or comedy. Comedy’s rewards are instantaneous–that is, if the audience doesn’t forget to laugh!! PS: You made your Broadway debut at a comparatively late age in 1990 in City of Angels. Please tell us more about this experience – what was it like going on Broadway for the first time? RK: It was magical. I played the role of Buddy Fidler for 9 months and enjoyed every minute of it. PS: Larry Dallas has the distinction of being the only other character besides Jack Tripper to appear on Three’s Company and both of its spinoffs, The Ropers and Three’s a Crowd. How did you land the role of Larry Dallas in Three’s Company? RK: I initially auditioned for a guest spot as Larry the used car salesman. The chemistry between John Ritter and myself did not go unnoticed and so they brought me back for more and more spots until I was offered a contract to be a regular the following season.
PS: Thankyou for your time Richard and all success for All That Glitters! Richard gives acting workshops in New York and I’d highly recommend that anyone who wants to get involved in acting checks it out.
Another day and another fantastic interview brought to you by Pop Speaking. I got so excited when I was doing some research on my last interviewee Chris Mann and found this FANTASTIC page in connection with some research they had done with Chris. I knew I had to stalk THEM down!
Lindsay Blake was kind enough to answer my long and rambling questions!!
Firstly please would you give me a short blurb about yourself?
OK about me – I grew up in a small San Francisco suburb, where I felt worlds away from Hollywood. I was always obsessed with movies, television shows and celebrities, though. And while my parents took me to Disneyland pretty much every year of my life, we never really went to L.A. proper. When I finally did get to visit Hollywood for the first time and saw the Hollywood Sign (at the age of 20), I just about died.
knew then that L.A. was the place for me. I got into acting at around that same time and wound up majoring in theatre in college. I moved to Pasadena, with my family in tow, in 2000 after graduating from college to try my hand at making it big. And while I did get an agent and joined SAG and went to acting school full-time (as well as working full-time), I felt like I was on a treadmill and not accomplishing much. I would spend my free time scouring the internet tracking down filming locations and would drive around to photograph them each weekend with my then boyfriend (now husband). Whenever friends would visit, I would take them on location tours and everyone would invariably say the same thing, “You either need to start a tour company or a blog.” So I started IAMNOTASTALKER in November 2007. It started growing fairly quickly without me really doing anything to promote it and pretty soon I was working on it full time. I felt I had better control over making it successful than I did my acting career. The blog has led me to so many exciting places, introduced me to some of my now closest friends and opened countless doors for me. It even led to me writing a weekly column for L.A. Magazine’s website.
I am so in love with this concept of looking for famous locations. I know if I was in London the first places I’d go would be to 84, Charing Cross Road, and 221 B Baker Street, from my favourite books. What is it that tweaked the idea for you? My mom was a big movie person and growing up we would go to the movies pretty much every weekend. And she would invariably make us stay to the end of the credits to see if it was mentioned where the film was shot. So a love of locations was definitely ingrained in me from a young age. It didn’t become a full-blown fetish until many years later, though. I’ve since come to the conclusion that a love of locations almost always stems from a deep, deep love for a movie or TV show or book.
For me that TV show was “Beverly Hills, 90210.” I was completely obsessed with it. I’m talking like full-fledged obsession – had the dolls, the sheets, the pillows, my walls were wall-papered with the posters and I recorded every episode on VHS when it aired (hello ‘90s!).
On my second visit to L.A. (I was 21 at the time), I purchased a book called “The Ultimate Hollywood Tour Book” at a gift shop at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. In it was the address of the Walsh house in Altadena. I just about died upon seeing it and begged my friend, whom I had flown down to visit, to take me there. She refused, telling me that Altadena was too far away from Hollywood. Needless to say, that friendship didn’t last long. 😉 We did go “stalk” some nearby sights that day, though, and I was in heaven. But seeing the Walsh house was my holy grail. I finally got to go there with my mom the following year while my family was in L.A. on a house-finding mission shortly before we moved to Southern California. The experience was absolutely everything I’d hoped it be – and it left me wanting more. Where was Dylan’s house? Kelly’s? The school? It was then that my location-hunting obsession took off. My parents ended up buying a house less than a mile from the Walsh home shortly thereafter and it was a dream come true. Had you told me in my high school years that one day I’d be living virtually down the street from the Walshes, I never would have believed it. You must have had some amazing adventures in your travels across the States finding places. Which state do you come from and what’s the furthest you’ve travelled to find a place? Please tell me about some of the adventures you’ve had?
The furthest I’ve ever gone to see a location was to Vancouver to see Killarney Market where Michael Buble filmed his “Haven’t Met You Yet” music video. I love MB and when that video came out I vowed that I would one day see that grocery store in person. Then right before I got married, my husband’s boss gave us two round trip tickets on Virgin America to anywhere in the continental United States. It wasn’t 24 hours before I had booked us a flight to Seattle. We spent four days in the Pacific Northwest – two of them in Canada (we drove from Seattle to Vancouver). We had an absolute blast and seeing Killarney Market was one of the highlights. Here’s the post I wrote about it. I’ve also done stalking in Mexico, Hawaii, New York, New Jersey, Minnesota, Maryland, New Mexico, and even Switzerland, but those were all stalkings that I fit into a previously planned vacation.
The Vancouver trip was pretty much a journey we made solely for the purpose of seeing a location. As a child in South Africa, and even now to some degree, most parts of America hold glamour for me. It’s fast become a wishlist place for me to visit. Is the glamour side of things something that attracted you to finding all these incredible places? Have there been any that you’ve found that you’ve thought “wow, I can’t believe how much that actually looks like it does on the show”, or conversely “that really doesn’t look the same at all”? Yes, L.A. definitely holds a lot of glamour for me. I love L.A. It’s the best place in the world in my opinion. I know it gets a bad rap a lot of the time, but I honestly can think of no better city. I love every square inch of it. And it definitely possesses a certain magic – a luster that has never rubbed off for me, even though I lived there for over 13 years. (I currently live in Palm Springs where I help take care of my dad, but we travel to L.A. every other weekend so that I can keep up with my blog.) Pasadena is pretty much the film capital of the world. Multiple shoots take place there every single day. So when I lived there and saw a shoot taking place, I would stop and watch. Every single time. I never got tired of it and probably never will. Many people who live in L.A. get annoyed at the inconvenience of film shoots, but not me. Stop traffic, block the street, take over parking lots, close down a store – doesn’t bother me in the slightest as long as I can observe it all. It’s absolutely fascinating to watch.
The “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” apartment building is one location that shocked me as to how different it looked in person. It didn’t look AT ALL how I had envisioned it. In the movie, the building looks like a U-shaped structure that surrounds a courtyard. In reality, though, it is four separate buildings. You can read my post on it here. The “Seinfeld” building is another one that I expected to look totally different. People probably drive by the place every day without realizing its iconic (I know you hate that word ;)) status. In person it just looks very different than it did onscreen. It wasn’t until I looked through the viewfinder of my camera that it became recognizable. Read my post on it here. Beverly Hills 90210 was one of my favourite shows as a teenager growing up in the 90s. So much so that whenever any site requires me to register with an American post code I enter 90210. Hehe. I’m so stoked to find out you loved it as well. What did it feel like to stand in the ACTUAL WALSH HOUSE? Which has been your favourite 90210 stalk and why? That’s hilarious that you use 90210 as your postal code. I love that. I use Britney Spears as my online name for pretty much everything. LOL (I used to love her back in the day and using that name sort of stuck. My husband gets very annoyed when he has to pick up photos at Target that I have ordered through Snapfish because he has to say, “I’m picking up photos for Britney Spears.” Ha!)
One of my absolute favourite shows was The Golden Girls. Your comment “Being that I was only eight years old at the time The Golden Girls premiered, I probably seem like a very unlikely fan of the show. But, for some reason, a sit-com which centered around the trials and tribulations of four single senior citizens living together in a Miami area home appealed to me. What can I say – I absolutely loved it!” rings true with me as well. I was 12 when it came here in about 1987 – but it was hysterical. What do you think it is about The Golden Girls house that makes it so instantly recognisable – and to use a word I hate – ICONIC – over locations from shows from the same era?
You know,the “Golden Girls” house is kind of a conundrum because it’s very non-descript, but so recognizable at the same time. And I’m not sure why. Even my husband recognized that one immediately when we pulled up and he typically recognizes nothing. I honestly don’t know what it is about that house. I think a big part of it is that nothing has changed there since it appeared on TV – I mean, there’s not even a leaf out of place! The place seems to be frozen in time and walking up to it feels like you are walking right into your TV set. Have you ever had any challenges – people getting upset with you on their property, or going to a place and suddenly finding you have to cross a river to get there or something? Yes, I have definitely had people get upset with me for taking pictures of their home. Thankfully though, it’s not the norm. But yeah, I’ve even had homeowners threaten lawsuits if I didn’t take their address down. Once a hotel owner threatened to sue me over a post, which I don’t understand at all. A hotel is a public place – you’d think they’d want the publicity, especially since my “review” of it was very complimentary. Fortunately, we have three very close friends who are lawyers, one of whom I sat down with just prior to starting my site so that I could find out what I legally could and could not do, and I’ve always acted accordingly. 99.9% of homeowners are very nice, though, and I typically love speaking with them. And yes, there have been quite a few locations that were harder to get to than I had anticipated. One I can think of off the top of my head is the house from Britney Spears’ “Sometimes” music video. It’s in Malibu and the beach side of it (where she sat on that long staircase) is virtually impossible to get to. I haven’t been able to stalk it yet, unfortunately, but am dying to. I’ve just re-watched Bad Santa (you may have noticed that I am having a John Ritter epiphany, LOL), and I see on your site that you recently went after the bar that Billy Bob Thornton used to lament his lot in life. I am having goosebumps thinking that Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Kevin Bacon, Adam Garcia and potentially more may have used the same spot and the same bar for different films at different times. In a 1980 interview John Ritter was asked about how he’d like to be remembered. He said he wanted to be remembered “just as a guy who was interested in the golden thread that goes through me and you and … all the people out there … That’s what an artist can do, or someone, anyone can do, if there’s a willingness. Pluck that and either it makes you laugh or it makes you cry.” Do you believe that locations, or props, as I guess the bar was, can be used as instruments to bring out emotion, touch people, and enhance moods and meaning in shows? I definitely think that locations can be used as props or even characters to bring out emotions in people. The “Father of the Bride” house is one that I immediately think of. That house was almost a character in the movie. Bring up the film and the conversation will invariably lead to that idyllic house. Even today, over 22 year later, the property is still featured regularly on design and house blogs. It struck a deep chord with audiences. As did the “Dirty Dancing” hotel, which is still a popular vacation destination today – almost thirty years after the movie came out! I connected with your blog through a mutual connection of ours – Chris Mann who wrote “Come and Knock On Our Door”. By googling your blog came up in connection with his name and the rest is history, I think it’s safe to say that most Three’s Company fans are grateful to you and Owen for finding the actual building! How much fun was it going there, specially dressed as Chrissy Snow?
Going to the “Three’s Company” apartment was a blast – especially dressed as Chrissy Snow. I was so bummed that the photographs didn’t come out. I sure had a lot of people honking at me, though. LOL I love dressing up (Halloween is my favorite holiday) and I try to do it as often as possible.
Scrolling through your pics of celebs met, you have met a lot of well known people! Please chat about some of these experiences? Which have been the most meaningful or special for you?
I have been very lucky and have met so many of my favorite celebrities. I love that saying about L.A. that goes, “The guy in front of you in line at Starbucks who looks like George Clooney probably IS George Clooney.” It’s SO true. Can’t tell you how many stars I’ve met in line at Starbucks. I’ve had so many meaningful experiences that it is tough to narrow down my favorites, but Michael Buble was certainly a very special one, as was Shannen Doherty. Meeting David Caruso on the set of “CSI: Miami” was also a fabulous experience, both because my dad and I are such huge fans of his and because he (as well as the rest of the cast) was so incredibly nice. David Caruso is easily one of the nicest guys in Hollywood.
Meeting Luke Perry was also one for the record books. When I told him how much I loved him as a teen, he kissed me on the cheek and I literally almost hyperventilated. I had to sit down for a few minutes and take some good deep breaths. “Beverly Hills, 90210” went off the air fourteen years ago, yet he still had that effect on me. Pretty incredible. Well as you can see I can go on and on. I think I should stop there before I blind you with text.. but if there’s anything else that you’d like to add, please feel free! Maybe your wishlist for future stalkings? I have what I call my “Stalking Bucket List.” It includes Mountain Lake Lodge in Virginia where “Dirty Dancing” was filmed; Lake Lure, North Carolina where the staff scenes from “Dirty Dancing” were filmed; Wilmington, North Carolina where “Dawson’s Creek” was filmed; Winnetka, Illinois where the “Home Alone” house is located; the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas where Britney Spears’ “. . . Baby One More Time” schoolgirl costume is displayed; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where “Mannequin” was filmed. It also includes Utah -where “Footloose” and “Drive Me Crazy” were filmed. I’m probably forgetting some, but those are ones that I think about constantly. I’m also dying to get back to New York to stalk some “Sex and the City” locations. We used to visit the Big Apple every December, but haven’t been in four years and I’m going through major withdrawals. Go straight to I Am Not a Stalker and read Lindsay’s posts! And watch out for another post with Lindsay on an entirely different subject – diabetes.
Pop Speaking could not hope to get off to 2014 on a better footing.
This post is very very special to me. Chris Mann is not only one of the top authorities on pop culture of today, he’s the definitive voice on Three’s Company, the male star of which, John Ritter, inspired this blog. He has been kind enough to spend a lot of time and effort sending me some invaluable information as well as three previously unpublished photographs.
Chris Mann is the author of “Come and Knock on Our Door“ and consulting producer of NBC’s 2003 hit telefilm“Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of ‘Three’s Company’ “. I’m very humbled and grateful that he has put so much time and effort into giving me such wonderful answers to my in depth and probably quite searching questions.
Chris, you’ve been in love with Three’s Company for a long time, for longer than I have. How did you fall in love with the show?
Thank you, Gaynor, for this opportunity to share with readers of your fun and insightful new blog. It’s so cool to know that “Three’s Company” has moved you so meaningfully — and that its magical reach still extends to the other side of the planet, no less! Like you, I started watching when I was a young child, primarily because of the late, great John Ritter.
His physical comedy and his timing were sublime, and his clownish spirit and “good-guy” energy really touched my heart. I was the class clown growing up (and I worked very hard to bring comic relief to my family as well), so Jack Tripper, as embodied and expressed by John, deeply resonated with me. Joyce DeWitt also particularly moved me as a spirited performer; she and John made beautiful music together as a comedy team.
John and Joyce, as the two constants on the show from episode one, especially felt to me as a kid like two friends, or maybe two family members, that I could always rely on to help me escape my so-not-carefree childhood — if only for 30 minutes a day. Comedy and laughter can help us transcend our circumstances and lighten our lives, and for me “Three’s Company” — wacky misunderstandings, mistaken identities, wild sexual innuendos/double entendres, hilarious pratfalls, zany door slammings and all — was like a tonic that helped me survive some very unfunny times. As I write this, I completely realize how hysterical it sounds to portray a sitcom farce as a deliverer of salvation, but, hey, did I mention I watched it “religiously”? ; )
Tell us about how the show impacted you growing up. In South Africa, while we enjoyed the show, America was a far away world then and it was always a little separate and more glamourous than what we were living day to day. Today, with the global village, I find that I and my kids relate to the characters on a real level. Did you find growing up that you related to the stars?
I love the global village concept, Gaynor. Long before the Internet and social media put everyone on “the same page,” television helped us feel connected to a world beyond our own. As a “wacky,” often misunderstood kid growing up in rural Oklahoma — the proverbial “Heartland” and/or Bible Belt of America — watching “Three’s Company” and its cast of characters opened the door in my imagination to what I dreamed life would be like as a grown-up, wacky, misunderstood kid in the faraway land of liberated Southern California.
Athleticism and otherwise archetypal “jock” attributes were, for boys, revered seemingly above all else in my small-town school district (and this is probably a universal truth) — but, athletically and socially speaking, I had two left feet and seventeen thumbs. In the world of “Three’s Company,” however, having two left feet and otherwise being clumsy and incongruous were comedic assets that elicited laughter, joy and, for the talent behind the show, fulfillment, empowerment and success. I mean, John Ritter made physical and social awkwardness an Emmy-winning, laugh-out-loud art form! And the other characters were all frustrated misfits, too, who reacted to uncomfortable and seemingly dire situations with comic hysteria and physical and verbal “tripping.”
In this regard, and given the heart that each of these characters had at his or her core, they were all quite “real” to a kid who, in order to get through the day, simply had to see and act out the comedy in things. (The broadly-drawn sides to these farcical characters that weren’t so real were nonetheless relatable to me, as I often turned “serious stuff” into subversive and/or absurd humor to level the playing field and make reality a bit more fanciful and palpable.)
So, in a weird way, “Three’s Company” and its stars — many of whom, especially John, acted silly in interviews, on “Family Feud” and in other public appearances — made me feel more, well … normal. John Ritter as Jack Tripper validated me as a kid! Because of his persona and popularity as a sort of antidote to the rough-and-tumble Ryan O’Neal and Burt Reynolds macho types, I think misfit, self-deprecating, anything-for-a-laugh kids like me were often seen in a different light in the late ’70s and ’80s. My peers knew how much I idolized John and sort of emulated Jack Tripper, so I kind of benefitted merely by as-seen-on-TV association.
This really ticked off one jerk, er, jock who used to give me grief all the time. I remember one day on the school bus, he was flustered that I was successfully using humor to deflect his crap, so he desperately came up with this “zinger”: “Oh, what are you gonna do? Go home and watch ‘Three’s Company’?” I let him have his “moment” as I plotted getting the heck out of Dodge. My immediate goals were to become class valedictorian and get a full ride to The University of Tulsa to prepare me for my move to California — all of which I did, thank God. Then, about ten years later, when I published the book and got a consulting producer credit on the NBC TV movie, I momentarily recalled his unwittingly emboldening taunts and those of a few of his ilk, and thought, “Who’s laughing now?!?” (I probably included an expletive at the end of that question, if only for comic effect. ; )
What is it about Three’s Company that is so compelling?
It just has always epitomized the pure, unadulterated energy of fun and funny, as channeled through characters and actors that are familial and familiar. As a kid, for a half hour each day it took me to a place that helped sustain me the other 23 and a half hours of the day. As an adult, it makes me a feel young at heart and reconnects me with the passion that propelled me to pursue my dreams and transform my reality. Sounds silly — like, there’s no conceivable way “Three’s Company” can be that deep! — but it’s true.
Do you have any favourites in the stars?
I adored them all and am so grateful to each of them, to be quite honest. John opened so many doors for me by responding to a fan letter and “Three’s Company” fanzine I published during the summer of my freshman year as a journalism major at TU. He gave me an incredibly candid phone interview shortly thereafter and told me he would interview for a book if, as I indicated in my letter was my dream to do so, I ended up writing one. He changed my life forever, and I will never forget his generosity, support and ongoing inspiration. Joyce opened up a few years later and was truly instrumental in giving the book — as she did the show itself — so much of its heart and soul. She’s still my friend, and I always marvel at her spirituality and gratitude for the love folks still have across the globe for the show.
Norman Fell and Audra Lindley were also special people whom I got to know a bit in their final years.Let’s just say their chemistry and banter were real! Norman was naturally very funny, and Audra especially touched me. She reminded me of my beloved grandma, who was very ill and going through chemo while I was writing the book. When Audra suddenly died before the book was published — and about a year before my grandma lost her battle with cancer — I took it very hard. Not near as hard as I did when John suddenly passed, but hard enough that I called Joyce to commiserate and just broke down.
As much as I loved the original ensemble, “Three’s Company” especially brightened my world and made me laugh from the core of my being during the Priscilla Barnes years. Though the media has always been obsessed with the original trio, Priscilla, in my opinion, knocked it out of the park as an actress and brought just the right level of heartfelt, zany chemistry to the trio. Even though she’s stated her years on the show were not happy ones (given her dealings with one producer in particular), I hope she knows and feels how much she’s appreciated for adding light and laughter to the lives of viewers. At the risk of sounding hokier than the hokiest hokey-man — and, to quote, Mr. Furley, oh, what the hell — Jack, Janet and Terri had a very special place in my heart.
And while the Ropers were brilliant, Don Knotts as Mr. Furley was and will
forever be riotously, fall-down funny. Dear God, is that man hilarious! Add Richard Kline — like John, a really great and talented guy with spot-on comic timing and a mean ability to comically cross-dress — to the mix, and you’ve got the perfect farce comedy ensemble. And please let me mention Jenilee Harrison and Ann Wedgeworth, too. Though their tenures with the show were shorter, their comic contributions were very significant, especially given the pressures they faced in essentially replacing Suzanne and Audra, respectively.Ann Wedgeworth spent several minutes in the bathroom fixing her hair at the sorta-Jacks-Bistro-esque restaurant Chez Nous when I asked for a photo with her after our chat. (She emerged looking like a Lana-esque knockout.)
As a writer you have the ability to tweak the golden thread of humanity which runs through generations, continents, hearts and souls. This was a concept that actor John Ritter believed in – that intrinsically we are all connected and that as a performer he could make an impression on souls. I believe that somewhere herein lies the solution to many of the world’s problems and ask most people I interview about this. What are your thoughts on this golden thread? Do you want to shape the present and leave something for the future?
What a wonderful question! I’m so glad you asked this. I believe John Ritter nailed it with his eloquent statement about “the golden thread of humanity” — that he wanted to be remembered “just as a guy who was interested in the golden thread that goes through me and you and … all the people out there … That’s what an artist can do, or someone, anyone can do, if there’s a willingness. Pluck that and either it makes you laugh or it makes you cry.”
I agree wholeheartedly with his take on this and yours. We all are connected, we all are part of One, and we all have a responsibility on this planet to remember that, and to reinforce that and to re-imagine that for the better –– and no matter what hostilities and division and other challenges we may face. As a writer and podcaster and interviewer and media producer I want to lend my voice to this end and give an bigger voice to those who are like-minded.
Please note the button for donations down the side of this blog to the John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health.
John and Joyce and “Company” brought people together with a silly sitcom farce. And I don’t care what any TV critic or intellectual or whatever has to say — “Three’s Company” plucked some heartstrings, baby! I am so proud and honored to have been able to write a book that I hope fully celebrates this and salutes those who made it so. And I hope my book on John does the same thing, as his life embodied the very spirit of the golden thread.
Tell us about some of the adventures that your Three’s Company trip has brought you – you’ve met the stars, seen the locations, researched extensively.
“Trip” is the ideal double (triple?) entendre to describe the journey I’ve had with the show. I interviewed John for the book for the first time in person just as he completed filming “Slingblade” in July 1995 — just two weeks after I finished my studies at TU and moved to LA. I remember keeping my cool and staying more in journalist/author mode versus fan mode all but maybe once or twice that day. I told him how much he affected my youth: “My friends would always ask, ‘Did you see “Three’s Company” last night?’ ‘Did you see John Ritter fall up the steps on ‘The People Choice Awards’?” I think I reigned myself in a bit when I then said, very “author”-itatively, “You really deserved your Emmy.” Thank God he didn’t call the “author”-ities ; ). Instead, he genuinely said, “Why, thank you so much” and, after the interview, gave me one of his trademark, big old John Ritter bear hugs.
– Joyce DeWitt, the sensitive and private soul that she is, started crying during her first in-person interview, when I asked her about how the show ended for her. The maitre d’ ended up bringing her a box of Kleenex and looking at me like, “Why are you making Joyce DeWitt cry?”
– On a more whimsical note … Audra Lindley and I went to a screening of “Dangerous Minds” (!).
– And at a dinner following a book signing in June 1998, I broke out a vintage bottle of celebratory Dom Perignon that John sent me — with a note signed, “Your pal, Jack Tripper” — upon publication. Joyce and Priscilla joined in the toast. And then when the waiter showed up to take after-dinner drink orders, Richard clarified the coffee requests of Don Knotts and Norman Fell (who were sitting, Regal Beagle-style, in their own booth): “Mr. Furley wants caffeinated coffee; Mr. Roper wants decaf,” sayest Larry Dallas. I about died laughing. So surreal and so fun.
– Perhaps most surreal of all: In 2002, after living in Hollywood for six and a half years, I suddenly had to move, and a family friend led me to an apartment with a great beach view on Ocean Front Walk in Venice. I’d never even visited this part of the boardwalk before. The week before I moved, TV Guide assigned me to write a story about the 25th anniversary of “Three’s Company.” As I was lamenting my approaching deadline and my inability to enjoy my new surroundings given my work load (I also worked full time as a magazine art director), one of my new neighbors said, “Hey, you do realize they shot the opening credits of the show right out in front of this building?” I had no idea! At this moment I realized just how strangely deep of a kindred connection I had with this zany sitcom.
Three’s Company was not without controversy, when after five seasons Suzanne Somers who starred as Chrissy demanded a lot of money. It caused politics and fallouts, with Suzanne eventually being replaced by Jenilee Harrison and eventually by Priscilla Barnes. One thing I always wondered was why even though it was new actresses they didn’t simply continue the character of Chrissy instead of creating new characters. That happens often in other shows – and I know you’re not a writer or a producer of the show but maybe you have some insight.
Good question! I think because Suzanne’s portrayal of Chrissy was so indelible, and Suzanne’s celebrity so undeniable, the producers knew better than to try to continue the character with a new actress. Also, when Jenilee was brought in “temporarily” as Chrissy’s kinda-sorta similar cousin in fall 1980, I think there was a still a chance that Suzanne could’ve returned. Once the decision was made to fire her by spring 1981, and after all of the painful separation, I don’t think virtually anyone on that set wanted even to hear the name “Chrissy,” let alone “Suzanne.” Instead, sadly, it was as if the character was killed off.
These rifts lasted a long time, with Joyce DeWitt and Suzanne Somers only recently making up. It’s also the only bit of controversy I can find ANYWHERE about John Ritter who seems to have been a thoroughly nice person and although there are reports that they made up, from reading between the lines I’m not sure that the rift was completely healed. What are your thoughts about this, and also – at the time while watching the show I’m not aware that anyone picked this up. A sign of great acting?
Definitely great acting by all three during Suzanne’s final episode, “A Hundred Dollars a What?” Prior to that, I think John and Suzanne got along famously. With Joyce and Suzanne, there was some tension at times, but you wouldn’t know it given the sweet, if sometimes exasperated, relationship between Janet and Chrissy. It was nice to see these ladies remember the good times after not speaking to each other for 31 years (!) when they reunited on Suzanne’s Internet show in an interview that taped in December 2011. Likewise, fans who were lucky enough to see the CBS Early Show “retro reunion” between John and Joyce in 2001 could find some sense of completion during their one on-camera get-together.
John and Suzanne, though, didn’t quite make up the way the public thinks they did — despite running into each other in 1995 and then chatting again in 2002. There’s quite a story here that hasn’t fully surfaced, and I hope one day to tell that story in its entirety. What’s weird is, after stressing for so long after he passed that she and John very much made up, Suzanne said in an interview in 2012 on “The Talk” that she and John only “kind of” reconciled. (I’m paraphrasing here — can’t remember exactly what she said right now, but in essence it was “kind of.”) This was while Suzanne was promoting her recently-taped reunion with Joyce and the phone conversation Suzanne and Joyce had prior to this reunion. And for now I think I’ll just leave it at that ; ).
You wrote a book and produced a movie! Where can we get copies of these (I can include links to selling pages) and what was the inspiration?
Thank you for asking! Well, John was the biggest inspiration — just as he is of the long-in-the-works biography on him that I’m writing. “Come and Knock on Our Door” has been out of print for a few years, and I don’t think the movie is out yet on DVD. (Hmmm, maybe it should be packaged with a reissue of the book?) My original publisher wanted to do an ebook version of the “Three’s Company” book but just wanted to release it as a text-only edition with some of the photos that already had been printed. That’s not my vision at all.
I want to do something much more special and dynamic — a revised print edition with some new written content, full-color images and possibly a DVD insert, and a multimedia ebook with video, audio and other exclusives. The fans and the show deserve only the best, so I hope everyone who keeps asking can keep patient till late 2014 and/or 2015. I promise you it will be worth the wait! After much waiting, I got all the rights back to the book and am presently exploring all options to execute new versions of the book. The Internet and other technologies have opened some exciting new possibilities, so I want to take the proper amount of time and care to do this right. In the meantime, I’ll update folks when I can on my websites, Retroality.TV and ChrisMann.TV, and at facebook.com/ComeandKnockOnOurDoor and on Twitter @RetroalityTV.
Have you written any other books or movies?
In addition to the book on John, I’ve been working on a behind-the-scenes book about “The Price is Right.” The ongoing legal battles behind that show have been a huge impediment in getting that book off the ground. Just when I think all the “Barker’s Beauty”/”Price” model lawsuits are done, another pops up, or, in the latest case, a $8.5 million ruling is overturned and another case goes on appeal. We’re talking 20 years of Barker Beauty-related litigation here that makes the Suzanne Somers vs. “Three’s Company” debacle look like child’s play!
I’ve written a couple of screenplays and am now developing a sitcom pilot. I’m waiting for the TV movie market to make a comeback — despite the success of the “Three’s Company” telefilm in 2003, the MOW industry pretty much fizzled shortly thereafter. When two-hour TV movies make their full return in the hopefully not-too-distant future, I’ll be ready to strike. Recently one of my screenplays was a finalist in the TVWriter.com “Spec Scriptacular” contest, so I’m encouraged.
The main reason the John Ritter book has been so delayed is because my life took a major, unexpected detour about eight years ago. With the money I made from the NBC movie, I’d moved my sister and her three teenaged kids to LA from Oklahoma in 2002. The four of them, my wonderful mom and I all lived in the Ocean Front Walk apartment building until it caught fire and forced us out in 2003. (We lived in a Ramada Inn in Inglewood, Calif. for a month — PARTY!) My sister became disabled shortly thereafter, and I found it back-breaking to try to support so many people in Venice on one salary — so in January 2005, we moved about three hours north of LA, to a small, rural town (deja vu!) on the central coast. By the end of that year, my mom and I suddenly found ourselves raising my twin nephews — one of whom, Jared, now calls me “Dad,” God bless his heart — on our own. This, despite the fact that Mom, who until 2001 helped raised the kids in Oklahoma, is also physically disabled and has received no support whatsoever from any other family member.
Long story short, I’ve been living one helluva sitcom for a very long time.
This is my brand of ’70s, ’80s and ’90s popular culture as channeled through my musings as well as the inspiring and amusing stories of those who lived it and survived it. I define Retroality as “refreshing reality with a retro twist.” Most recently, my interviews and commentary have taken the form of our monthly-ish podcast, “Reimagine That!” — “where retro pop meets forward thought.” The forward thought includes the spiritual aspects of celebs’ lives as well as a spiritually-based dream interpretation segment co-hosted by the amazing Yvonne Ryba, titled “Reawakenings.” The podcast (co-produced by the equally amazing Linda Kay) and the blog are on hiatus while I launch and otherwise give focus to some other creative projects, but my plan eventually is to extend the brand into a publishing and production company. As I plan the launch of ChrisMann.TV (future home of Chris Mann Enterprises) in 2014, all of the archived material will remain available at Retroality.TV. I’m excited to announce that the podcast will return in some form later this year, most likely as a live show on BlogTalkRadio. Stay tuned!
Tell me about some of the other TV shows and stars you’ve met and covered?
I’ve had the great fortune to interview and art direct several classic and current TV and film stars via my work over the last 13 years with a wonderful company in Los Angeles called Basic Media Group.
I art directed Eva Longoria, Gilles Marini, Cheryl Ladd, Jacqueline Bisset and even Joyce DeWitt for various health magazines a few years back. Among the celebs I’ve interviewed for cover stories are Lynda Carter, Jaclyn Smith, Olivia Newton-John, Sally Field, Wendie Malick, Linda Gray, Paula Abdul, Lindsey Vonn, Joe Manganiello, Apolo Ohno, Mario Lopez, Shemar Moore and (phew!) Antonio Sabato Jr. I’ve been fortunate to cover shows ranging from “24,” “Southland” and “Nikita” to “The Price is Right,” “Three’s Company” and various recent TV reboots/”reimaginings” for the Los Angeles Times and online and print magazines.
Which are your other favourite shows, and why?
“Roseanne,” “Ellen,” “The Golden Girls,” “I Love Lucy,” “The Office,” “The Comeback,” “SNL” and “Gimme a Break!” (all hail Nell Carter!) — because they make me laugh, laugh, laugh. And “Law and Order: SUV,” because nobody delivers gritty exposition like Ice T.
What is Chris Mann Enterprises?
This is my umbrella company that I plan to grow in the next few years. Ironically, no matter how much it expands, I will not be selling umbrellas.
Where now for Chris Mann?
New year, new media, new age! That’s my motto for 2014. That, and “Come and Knock on Our Door … Once More!”
Please share any other info you feel you would like to.
I simply want to say thank you again so much, Gaynor, for giving me this opportunity to share some of my story, particularly as it pertains to “Three’s Company” and John. Your Pop Speaking blog is terrific, so keep up the great work — and here’s to a happy and healthy 2014! Our immense thanks to Chris Mann for this interview. Also please note the donation tab to the Foundation for Aortic Health down the side of this page.
I remember the day well – standing in front of the TV in sad, shocked, silence as the announcer told us that John Ritter, American actor and star of Three’s Company, had passed away suddenly. A lot of celebs had passed away, but John’s death was on the same level as that of Princess Diana – you just knew that we had lost somebody amazing. We still feel that loss today, but MORE than that – John Ritter still makes us laugh today. In my own family, we have spent most of this year laughing at Jack Tripper as we rediscovered Three’s Company and all his other work. Well – I rediscovered it, my children discovered it for the first time. And when, like me, and like my son, you struggle with issues such as depression and social anxiety and you suddenly find solace and peace in the work of someone who just makes you LAUGH, you want to give something back.
It’s with this in mind that I contacted the John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health. I wanted to know more about the heart defect which had taken him from us, but I also wanted to see if there was some way that I in South Africa could say thank you. I seem to remember hearing that John Ritter once said that he would like to find a cure for a disease, and the best way of saying thank you is by spreading word about aortic health.
Aortic dissection is a serious condition in which there is a separation of the aorta walls. The small tear can become larger. It can lead to bleeding into and along the wall of the aorta, the major artery carrying blood out of the heart. When it leaves the heart, the aorta first moves up through the chest toward the head (the ascending aorta). It then bends or arches, and finally moves down through the chest and abdomen (the descending aorta). Aortic dissection most often happens because of a tear or damage to the inner wall of the aorta. Aortic dissections are often preceded by an enlargement of the first part of the aorta where it comes out of the heart, called an aortic aneurysm. If you have an aneurysm, you are at increased risk for an aortic dissection.
What symptoms should people look for and are there any immediate steps a person can take if they think they are having an aortic dissection?
Severe pain is the #1 symptom. Seek immediate emergency medical care for a sudden onset of severe pain in the chest, stomach, back or neck. The pain is likely to be sharp, tearing, ripping, moving or so unlike any pain you have ever had that you feel something is very wrong. Thoracic aortic dissection is a medical emergency. The death rate increases 1% every hour the diagnosis and surgical repair are delayed. Aortic dissection can mimic heart attack. Heart attacks are far more common than aortic dissection. But if a heart attack or other important diagnosis is not clearly and quickly established, then aortic dissection should be quickly considered and ruled out, particularly if a patient has a family history or features of a genetic syndrome that predisposes the patient to an aortic aneurysm or dissection. Get the right scan to rule out aortic dissection. Only three types of imaging studies can identify aortic aneurysms and dissections: CT, MRI and transesophageal echocardiogram. A chest X-ray or EKG cannot rule out aortic dissection.
Is there a genetic connection? Have any other of John Ritter’s family been tested or assisted after his death, and did any of his ancestors have it? Certain genetic syndromes put you at risk. These genetic syndromes greatly increase your risk for thoracic aortic disease and a potentially fatal aortic dissection: Marfan syndrome, Loeys-Dietz syndrome, Turner syndrome and vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Bicuspid aortic valve disease puts you at risk. If you have a bicuspid aortic valve (two leaflets instead of the typical three), or have had a bicuspid aortic valve replaced, you need to be monitored for thoracic aortic disease.A personal or family history of thoracic disease puts you at risk. If you or a family member is living with an aneurysm or if you have a family member who has had an aortic dissection, you are at an increased risk for thoracic aortic dissection. You and your other family members should be evaluated to determine if a predisposition for aortic aneurysm and dissection is running in the family. John’s brother Tom Ritter had surgery in 2007 to replace a portion of his aorta. His knowledge of the disease and the familial link saved his life. It is believed that their father Tex Ritter, well known as the Singing Cowboy, may have suffered a dissection.
What causes an aortic dissection – are there any dietary or lifestyle choices that are connected to it? Lifestyle and trauma can trigger aortic dissection. It is possible to trigger an aortic dissection through injury to the chest, extreme straining associated with body building, illicit drug abuse, poorly controlled high blood pressure or by discontinuing necessary blood pressure medications. Rarely, pregnancy can trigger an aortic dissection. However, women with aortic aneurysms and connective tissue disorders who are pregnant are at higher risk of aortic dissection during late pregnancy and delivery and should be carefully monitored by a cardiovascular specialist. Medical management is essential to preventing aortic dissection. If you have thoracic aortic disease, medical management that includes optimal blood pressure control, aortic imaging and genetic counseling is strongly recommended. Talk with your physician.
Where can people find out more about aortic dissection?
John had an eye condition – a coloboma. What is this and is there any connection between this and his heart condition? The shape of his pupil was due to a childhood injury and was not an eye condition in his case. So no relation to his Aortic Dissection.
How can people support the John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health?
Go to the website and learn all you can. Make a donation if that is appropriate for you and your family. The awareness you spread about Familial Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm and Dissection saves lives.
Is there anything else you would like to draw our attention to? Just keep the families of those who have lost loved ones in your thoughts and prayers. We are a dedicated community of people seeking to change the perception of a too often overlooked and misdiagnosed disease. With the help of the public and the medical community we have changed minds and saved lives. We whole heartedly appreciate your kind attention and your willingness to help us with our mission.
Thank you soooooo much for this opportunity,
I had the absolute honour of being able to interview Richard Kline for my blog. Richard played the character of Larry Dallas, the sleazy used car salesman and best friend of Jack Tripper (John Ritter) on my favourite sitcom, Three’s Company, and when I heard he is about to star in a Broadway production of All That Glitters, about Liberace, I fired off an email asking him for an interview. I was overjoyed when he replied to say I may send him questions – many people don’t bother to reply – and was even more happy when I actually did get answers to my questions. The mark of a gentleman is to stick to your word and treat everybody with respect. So it’s with extreme gratitude that I can bring you this once in a lifetime piece. You are about to star in All That Glitters, the story of Liberace, as Liberace! Liberace was a flamboyant character and the role will involve singing and playing the piano – how are you enjoying this multifaceted role? The role contains some wonderful ballads and a bit of piano playing. The script is at times hilarious and dramatic–especially in the second act where I play Liberace at the end of his life
How did this role come about and how are preparations going? I auditioned for the role which was arranged by my agent. I have had interviews and a publicity photo shoot. I am also practicing the piano every single day!
What specifically would you like to share about this exciting role? This musical charts the life of Liberace from boyhood prodigy, to mid-life extraordinary success , to the waning moments of his life and relationship with Scott Thorson–whose affair with Liberace was the subject of “Behind the Candelabra” on HBO. In the first part of the first act I play Liberace’s father and thus get to explore that toxic relationship which marked his early years.
You’ve played in a variety of acting roles, and to have played in straight pieces such as Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” and numerous comedy parts shows your adaptability. I must confess to my own knowledge of Liberace’s highly coloured style of piano playing being limited, and I turned to Jean Collen, a respected Johannesburg musician, for assistance in preparing questions. She stressed how versatile she thought you were in being able to play such a variety of roles. What is your favourite medium – stage or TV, straight or comedy roles? My first love is the theater and I am at home with either drama or comedy. Comedy’s rewards are instantaneous–that is, if the audience doesn’t forget to laugh!! You made your Broadway debut at a comparatively late age in 1990 in City of Angels. Please tell us more about this experience – what was it like going on Broadway for the first time? It was magical. I played the role of Buddy Fidler for 9 months and enjoyed every minute of it. Larry Dallas has the distinction of being the only other character besides Jack Tripper to appear on Three’s Company and both of its spinoffs, The Ropers and Three’s a Crowd. How did you land the role of Larry in Three’s Company? I initially auditioned for a guest spot as Larry Dallas the used car salesman. The chemistry between John Ritter and myselfdid not go unnoticed and so they brought me back for more and more spots until I was offered a contract to be a regular the following season.
Richard as Larry Dallas with John Ritter as Jack in Three’s Company
Thankyou for your time Richard and all success for All That Glitters! Richard gives acting workshops in New York and I’d highly recommend that anyone who wants to get involved in acting checks it out.
Some of my collection of autographs. Sorry for terrible scan quality! As a child and teenager I collected them, and am now thinking I would like to reprise this hobby.
UPDATE!! RICHARD KLINE!!
Not exactly an autograph, but it MORE than counts. I wrote to Richard Kline – Larry Dallas from Three’s Company – because he’s in a big new show asking for an interview for my blog and got such a nice surprise to come home to this reply today. Standby for a celeb interview on my blog!!!
“Daley” Thompson CBE (born 30 July 1958), is a former decathlete from the UK. He won the decathlon gold medal at the Olympic Games in 1980 and 1984, and broke the world record for the event four times. Richard Peter Snell (born 12 September 1968 in Durban) is a former cricketer who played five Tests and 42 One Day Internationals for South Africa. He played for Transvaal in the early 90’s forming a formidable opening pair with Steven Jack. He took South Africa’s first Test wicket after they were re-admitted to international cricket. The event where I got their autographs was so much fun. It was a sort of obstacle course / there were 10 events where they all had to compete over two days. They were all gracious!
Richard Snell former South African fast / medium bowler
David Ian Campese, AM (born 21 October 1962), also known as Campo, is a former Australian rugby union player. Campese was capped by the Wallabies 101 times, and held the world record for the most tries in test matches (64) until Daisuke Ohata scored his 65th try playing for Japan on 14 May 2006. He was voted player of the tournament at the 1991 Rugby World Cup after scoring nine tries in tests that season and six in the tournament. I met him one day in Eastgate shopping centre!
Edouard Louis Joseph, Baron Merckx (pronounced [ˈmɛrks]) (born 17 June 1945 in Meensel-Kiezegem), better known as Eddy Merckx, is a Belgian former professional road bicycle racer, considered to be the greatest pro-cyclist ever. He was at Hector Norris Park one Sunday. I climbed right to the top of the stands to ask him for his signature.
If you get a letter from this address, you know it’s gonna be a good day. This was such a catch. Fred Perry was commentating one year for the BBC for Wimbledon, which I happened to know about. I wrote to the BBC and asked them to pass it on to him. And they did. It was so nice of him to write back. What a gentleman. He passed away soon afterwards and this is a treasure. RIP Fred Perry. Frederick John “Fred” Perry (18 May 1909 – 2 February 1995) was a championship-winning English tennis and table tennis player who won 10 Majors including eight Grand Slams and two Pro Slams. Perry won three consecutive Wimbledon Championships from 1934 to 1936 and was World No. 1 or Co-No. 1 for four years in total.
Gerald de Kock! Gerald de Kock is a South African sports commentator specialising in cricket. Formerly media manager of the South African national cricket team, he is currently chief cricket presenter on SuperSport, having worked previously for the SABC.
Hansie Cronje, sadly missed. I can say one thing that at this competition they had to dive through metal barrels and I was standing there when he dived through his. He crashed his back into the barrel and it looked so sore but he just kept on going where any normal person would have writhed around in agony, he wanted to win and there was no tanking there, that’s for sure. Wessel Johannes “Hansie” Cronje (25 September 1969 – 1 June 2002) was a South African cricketer and captain of the South African national cricket team in the 1990s. He was voted the 11th greatest South African in 2004
Aw this was one of those awesome moments in time. Ever since my parents took me to see 84, Charing Cross Road as a play in 1983, I’ve had a fascination with Helene Hanff, and her bookshop and her over the sea correspondence. I read 84, Charing Cross Road for the umpteenth time, when one day it struck me to write to the last published address – on the last letter in the book. I didn’t really expect anything back as the book had been published 30 years previously. I was amazed to receive this post card and a photograph sent separately. She was a lady and a great writer, still my favourite to this day. She died shortly thereafter which makes this even more of a treasure. Helene Hanff (April 15, 1916 – April 9, 1997) was an American writer. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she is best known as the author of the book 84, Charing Cross Road, which became the basis for a stage play, television play, and film of the same name.
Debbie and Jenny Lonman from the band Little Sister! This was a lot of fun. They gigged down at Bruma Lake, I loved their music and still listen to this day. Little Sister are an acoustic rock duo from South Africa. Debbi and Jenni Lonmon have been in the music industry for 18 years. They have recorded 5 albums.
Kim Shippey, this is another special one. I didn’t know who he was, but my parents told me to run after him and ask for his autograph. Only realised later what a star he was, and what a quality commentator. There is very little about him on the net but he is apparently now 80, and still filing stories from the US.
Marc and Alex Rantseli from the South African band Marcalex. I really enjoyed their music and it was great to see them live and meet them.
Karen Kruger and Naas Botha.
My Rick! I can honestly say I wrote to every star, music, TV, film, radio, and asked for their autographs. Those days you had to physically send a letter, and you can ask my mother, she is still paying off the postage bill. Some would send generic printed post cards. Rick was the ONLY one to send me back a real signed pic during the height of his fame.
Here is a South African legend, many of you must remember this star. Tickey the clown sent us not one letter but two, we wrote requesting photos and he replied with a lovely letter saying he didn’t have any and would have some made, apologising for being slow. Then not only did he actually GET some made but he sent them along together with another lovely letter. A gentleman and entertainer of note. He passed away in 1988. This is an honour to have, RIP Tickey.
Wally Hayward opened the local fun run one year! He won the Comrades Marathon for the first time in 1930 and ran it again when he was 81! He passed away in 2006, at the age of 98, a South African sporting legend. RIP.
Something strange has happened to me. I’ve become a fan of someone 10 years after he passed away. I’m a stargazer. I love my celebrities. But this one’s different. In the past I’ve always become a fan of a person in their lifetime.
I’m talking about JOHN RITTER.
I always LIKED John Ritter. But to be honest, I didn’t know that much about him, I’d seen him in Problem Child and I remembered that he’d been in Three’s Company. And I was sad when I heard he died, specially since we were just beginning to get into 8 Simple Rules. But while I was old enough to remember Three’s Company being shown on TV, I wasn’t old enough to have got any of the jokes.
Fast forward to last month when I began watching episodes of it and I instantly irrevocably became a fan of both the show and of John. I think the reason I went looking for stuff to laugh at was that I’d forgotten to laugh, forgotten to live with a bit of humour – financial constraints, health issues, living in a stressful city… it all added up to a not very fun-filled me. I needed something to giggle at, and I found it. I’ve watched episodes of Three’s Company every night since, and I’ve had a belly laugh in EVERY single episode. (I hope the neighbours have ear muffs 🙂 ) Thank you John Ritter for the lesson, I don’t intend to forget to laugh ever again!
Jack Tripper’s dance number is one of the funniest clips I’ve ever seen. Makes me wish he’d done more of this – Charlie Chaplin could have been in trouble!
Chrissy’s dumb blondeness, Janet’s own brand of unique comedy, the 70s / early 80s, Mr Roper who is more asexual than homophobic and who is hysterically funny in his escapades from trying to escape the frustrated Mrs Roper all the while teasing Jack, to the very red blooded and kind hearted Mr Furley – – all played as incredibly funny foils and backdrops to the inimitable Jack Tripper. I would say that Three’s Company was a moment in time when an incredibly talented cast happened to find themselves together in the same time and same place. I’m not sure how often that kind of miracle happens. Don Knotts who played Mr Furley is widely quoted as having said that John Ritter was the finest physical comedian on the planet. I think that’s probably true and is high praise coming from someone as talented as Don Knotts himself, who has also sadly passed on and is worthy of a blog post all of his own. One of the questions I’ve asked myself is whether Three’s Company did the gay movement any favours. And I go back to the fact that it was probably a completely taboo subject back in those days, and now, here was a TV series that presented with a heterosexual man completely prepared to pretend to be gay, another (Larry) who didn’t mind being mistaken for being gay, and two landlords who didn’t mind having a gay man in their building. So I think Three’s Company facilitated the acceptance of homosexuality.
Back to John Ritter: I think the poignant thing to me is realising that if someone has the power to make you a fan 10 years after he has passed away, there was definitely something special about him. That is some gift to leave the world – to have people laughing at your antics 30 years after you recorded them, to be touching souls years after you have passed on. My lesson of now is to live life with a bit of humour, and my inspiration is to leave a gift to the world that it may enjoy years after I’ve passed. John Ritter seems to have been well loved by everyone who came into contact with him, and mourned until this day. In an interview he did in the late 70s, he was asked how he would like to be remembered, and he said: “Just as a guy who was interested in the golden thread that intertwines all of us together. You know, that golden thread that goes through me and you, and the cameraman, and all the people out there and back through Nancy (his wife Nancy Morgan). That`s what an artist can do, that someone – anyone – could do, if they`re willing to pluck that. And either it makes you laugh or it makes you cry, it`s that golden thread of humanity, and I`d like to be remembered as maybe a guy who plucked a few of those.“And it’s this that makes me say: John Ritter, you plucked the golden thread of humanity. People laugh at all you’ve done, and they sure as hell cried on the day you died, and many days since. Thank you for the laughter and the memories, both from 30 years ago and from today.
RIP John Ritter. Because I only recently became a real fan, I feel I am grieving your death now!!! You died too young, but it was a life well lived with goals achieved, and will live on in our hearts and minds forever, and I venture to suggest, you will continue to reach new generations.
Aortic Dissection John Ritter died suddenly and sadly on September 2003, 10 years ago from an aortic dissection, which had been previously undetected. It’s a little known and very dangerous, but treatable, condition. Check out The John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health to learn more about this condition and to give your support. Tweet