Late actor John Ritter was the subject of ABC’s Superstar on Wednesday night, and footage from the show reveals son Jason getting emotional speaking about his late father. From Three’s Company and Problem Child to 8 Simple Rules and Bad Santa, Ritter had long been a fan favorite actor on both the big and small screen. Sadly, he passed away suddenly in 2003 due to an aortic dissection.
A one-hour documentary, ABC’s Superstar: John Ritter presented never-before-seen family videos along with unseen footage from a Barbara Walters interview. Also included were interviews with various names in the business who knew Ritter, like Jimmy Kimmel, Bryan Cranston, Kaley Cuoco, Henry Winkler, Suzanne Somers, and Raven-Symone. Jason Ritter, John’s son, also remembers his father in footage from the show, and he gets choked up remembering the “beauty” of his father’s life.
“He is a comedy genius. He was a very loving and supportive dad. I never felt like I was jealous that I had to share him with the world. One of the things that I try to do is look at his life. Instead of feeling like I was reading this beautiful book and all of a sudden the last ten chapters were ripped out, I started to look at it as, that was the whole book. That’s the whole story. And what’s the beauty in that. And there was so much beauty in his life.”
Ritter’s ex-wife Nancy, whom he was married to from 1977-96, was also featured in the program. She similarly has memories of, along with John, telling their children to “pursue what you want to pursue,” always supporting whatever it was that they wanted to do in life. As Nancy noted, John “made a good, conscientious choice to never say to his children, ‘Don’t, it’s too hard.'”
Once referred to by Don Knotts as the “greatest physical comedian on this planet,” Ritter became a household name by starring on the classic sitcom Three’s Company with Joyce DeWitt and Suzanne Somers. That role earned him an Emmy and a Golden Globe in 1984. He is also well known for starring in 8 Simple Rules from 2002 until his death in 2003 and has appeared in movies like Problem Child, Stay Tuned, and Bad Santa.
After watching the new special, many fans have been praising the late actor on social media. One fan writes, “Just watched the ABC special about John Ritter and all I can say is WOW. It’s still [heartbreaking] when you realize how long he’s been gone. He was ….. truly amazing.”
And another fan posted, “Just watched the #SuperstarABC on #JohnRitter & it will give you mixed emotions. You’ll laugh before you cry. Hard to believe how long it’s been. I remember where I was when I heard & it was like losing a family [member]. An amazing human being. Check it out.”
If you’re a cable subscriber, you can watch Superstar: John Ritter on ABC.com or the ABC app. It’s also available on Hulu + Live TV and other streamers offering ABC. Previous episodes of Superstar have covered names like Whitney Houston and Kobe Bryant while future installments will profile Richard Pryor and Robin Williams. The Superstar clip comes to us from 20/20 on Twitter.