It’s been seventeen years since John Ritter collapsed on the set of his show “8 Simple Rules” and tragically passed away.
Former “Happy Days” star Henry Winkler happened to be on set playing a guest star role that horrible day, and he recently spoke out to remember the last time he saw Ritter, who rose to fame in the 1970s on the show “Three’s Company.”
Winkler told Archive of American Television that he and Ritter were close friends from the moment that they met.
“I miss John Ritter every day,” he said. “John Ritter could tell the same joke every single day, could repeat himself every day. It was as funny as the first time you ever heard it. John was limitless, he was a dramatic actor, he was a comedian, he was a great father, he was well read.”
Describing Ritter as “major,” Winkler said that they met “at the 25th anniversary for ABC. He was sitting in the table in the chair behind me. And I bumped into him when I moved mine, and we were friends ever since.”
Ritter was on the set of his sitcom on September 11, 2003 when he told Winkler that he was not feeling well, and he soon began sweating profusely.
“I was on his show,” Winkler recalled. “We were talking. We were sharing a moment about the play [The Dinner Party] we had just done with Neil Simon. [Ritter] said, ‘I’m sweating, I’m gonna get some water.’ I said, ‘I’m gonna memorize my lines so I don’t stink up the room.'”
“And that was the last time I saw him,” he added. “He was rushed to the hospital and I was called at 11 o’clock at night.”
Ritter was taken to Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, where he had been born 54 years before, and he died later that day.
WE / i MISS john every single day https://t.co/2IoPdTxoNW
— Henry Winkler (@hwinkler4real) September 11, 2020
Los Angeles Times reported that Winkler later appeared as a witness in court on the behalf of Ritter’s widow Amy Yasbeck, who had filed a wrongful death suit against the hospital and staffers in the emergency room. She accused them of misdiagnosing her husband’s condition, saying that it cost him his life.
“Every thought that John had included his children, all four children,” Winkler said at the time. “Every conversation we had somehow wrapped around his children. His pride, his love, his worry, his making sure that every one of them was fine. I couldn’t keep up with him when he went on a comic tear. The only one who could was Amy.”