Kaley Cuoco is honoring her former TV dad, John Ritter, 17 years after his death. Ritter, who played Kaley’s dad in the sitcom, 8 Simple Rules, died unexpectedly from an aortic dissection in 2003.
“Can’t believe you have been gone 17 years,” said the 34 year old actress who played the actor’s oldest teen daughter in the show. “Thank you for continuing to make me laugh every single day 💜💜,” she wrote alongside a smiling Black and White Instagram photograph of the pair.
Kaley’s tribute drew hundreds of comments from fans of the beloved sitcom. In the comments under the post, many of them recalled the episode in which Ritter’s character died off-screen. It is mentioned that Ritter’s character, Paul Hennessy, collapsed in a grocery store while buying milk. “That episode of 8 Simple Rules broke my heart. You all did an amazing job to honor his memory,” one fan wrote. “Truly a gem to the world. What a joy it was to watch him entertain us all for the years we got with him. Sending love to you and his family,” another fan commented.
“A lot of people will ask me, ‘What was John Ritter like?'”
Ritter starred opposite Katey Sagal, who played the parents of three teenagers, Kaley, Amy Davidson and Martin Spanjers. Spanjers and Davidson also went on to share touching tributes of their own on the beloved actor’s 17th death anniversary.
“17 years ago we all lost John,” wrote Spanjers, 33, who played Rory Hennessy, the couple’s only son on the show. “Each year I can’t believe it’s been another one. A lot of people will ask me, ‘What was John Ritter like?’ I will respond with something like: He was the greatest. The most kind, genuine, loving and yes – hilarious person,” he wrote alongside a playful cast photo throwback.
“Whether you were a random fan approaching him or the head of ABC, he would show you the same respect and gratitude with his time. Looking you in the eye, joyful and remaining incredibly present. He was a mensch,” the actor added, calling out fans to show their support for the Aortic Dissection Awareness Week. Which is next week, from Sept 19 to Sept 26.
“To honor John and all those that have been taken from us too soon”
In memory of his loving TV dad, Spanjers went on to share that he would be working to raise awareness about aortic dissection.
“To honor John and all those that have been taken from us too soon, I am taking part in Aortic Dissection Awareness Week (Sept 19-26). I will be sharing more information as I learn more through this event/conference but I urge you to join and spread the word if you, your family or if you know someone who has been affected,” he wrote. “Knowledge is power and we have to fight with it to save lives.”
Amy Davidson, 40, who played the role of the couple’s middle child, Kerry “Care Bear” Hennessy, re-posted her reel brother’s message on her Instagram. “Could not have said it any better. I love you, John! And thank you for sharing this information, Martini😉♥️.”
The Legacy of John Ritter
John Ritter died on Sept. 11 in 2003, from an undiagnosed aortic dissection after experiencing chest pains on the set of 8 Simple Rules. On the way to the hospital, he was initially misdiagnosed as having a heart attack. His condition worsened and he eventually passed away. He was just 54.
Ritter was best known for his Emmy-winning performance as Jack Tripper on Three’s Company from 1977 to 1984. The actor starred in dozens of beloved films throughout his lifetime, including Americathon, Problem Child, Sling Blade, and Bad Santa. He also voiced the beloved, Clifford the Big Red Dog in the popular animated series based on the books.
In 2002, he was cast as Paul Hennessy on 8 Simple Rules, which shot Cuoco into stardom. After Ritter’s death, James Garner and David Spade joined the show as new characters. The sitcom managed to last through the end of its third season at which point it was canceled by ABC due to poor ratings. He is survived by his second wife Amy Yasbeck and his four children Jason, 40, Carly, 38, Tyler, 35, and Noah, 22.
“I truly believe if John had still been around, we probably would have gone on for a long time”
Cuoco, who has deep respect, love and admiration for her late co-star, reflected on Ritter’s legacy earlier this year. On the occasion of the 15th anniversary of 8 Simple Rules’ finale.
“With John passing away, that changed the whole course of that show. I truly believe if John had still been around, we probably would have gone on for a long time.” She continued, “It was a great family show, and he made this unreal TV comeback. Even though I only spent a year with him, that changed the course of my personal life and my career. I knew I wanted to make people laugh forever after working with John,” said the actress fondly remembering her late TV dad, who was also a real father figure to the actress. “That year really changed me in every way.”
“Watching [John] with everybody was like a light. It was the happiest place to be,” The Big Bang Theory alum added. “He taught me what it’s like to be a leader, and to lead a show. He taught me a lot.” She continued, “To this day, if anyone asks me [about] John Ritter, I get this chill because I love him so much,” admitted the actress, getting emotional.
Kaley Cuoco’s Rise To Fame
After her role as Bridget Erin “Beach” Hennessy on the sitcom launched her into stardom, she found even more success as Penny on The Big Bang Theory for 12 seasons. The actress is currently working on her next show, The Flight Attendant, for Apple TV+. The limited series drama was shut down in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, filming has now resumed in New York. Based on Chris Bohjalian’s novel, The Flight Attendant will see Cuoco starring as the titular air hostess who wakes up in Dubai with a dead man by her side and has no idea how he got there.