‘Three’s Company’ Star John Ritter Died During the Production of Another Sitcom

John Ritter became a star on Three’s Company during the ‘70s and ‘80s. After a long career in the entertainment industry, he suddenly died in 2003 while filming a comedy series on ABC. 

John Ritter played a father on ‘8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter’ 

Kaley Cuoco, Amy Davidson, Katey Sagal, and John Ritter on '8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter'
Kaley Cuoco, Amy Davidson, Katey Sagal, and John Ritter on 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter | Gale M. Adler/ABC via Getty Images

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Ritter went from playing Jack Tripper on Three’s Company to a father of three on 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter. Ritter took on the role of Paul Hennessy, a former sportswriter, and patriarch of the Hennessy family.

When his wife, Cate Hennessy (Katey Sagal), decided to return to work, Paul tended to the family while staying home and writing a lifestyle column. He watched as his oldest daughter, Bridget (Kaley Cuoco), began dating.

He also consoled his middle child, Kerry (Amy Davidson), when she felt out of place at school. He also helped his youngest child, a son named Rory (Martin Spanjers), navigate puberty. 

8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter premiered on Sept. 17, 2002. 

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John Ritter went to the hospital after falling ill on set

While rehearsing for 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter on Sept. 11, 2003, Ritter fell ill. He experienced sudden nausea and vomiting, according to court documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times. Feeling faint and experiencing chest pain, he went to a local hospital.

Just hours later Ritter was pronounced dead at the age of 54. He had a previously undetected aortic dissection in his heart. Later, His wife, Amy Yasbeck, filed a wrongful death lawsuit along with Ritter’s four children. 

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‘8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter’ had Paul Hennessy die in a similar way

Because the program centered around Ritter, 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter had to figure out how to proceed without its main star. In the end, the show decided to have Paul die suddenly just like Ritter. 

On 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter Season 2 Episode 8: ‘Goodbye’, Paul collapses and dies while at the store buying milk. It starts off a two-part episode dedicated to Paul and Ritter’s death. The Hennessy family grieves for the loss of their father and the cast says goodbye to their co-star. 

The cast of '8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter'
The cast of 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter | Craig Sjodin/ABC via Getty Images

Shortly after the show got a name change and some new cast members. Cate got help from her father, Jim Egan (James Garner), and nephew, C.J. Barnes (David Spade), who moved in with her and the kids after Paul’s death. The program became known as 8 Simple Rules and remained on the air until 2005. 

Watch 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter on the ABC app.

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