Johnathan Southworth "John" Ritter (September 17, 1948 – September 11, 2003) was an American actor and comedian perhaps best known for playing Jack Tripper and Paul Hennessy in the ABC sitcoms Three's Company and 8 Simple Rules respectively. Renowned for his flawless comedic timing and peerless physical comedy. Don Knotts called him the "Greatest physical comedian on the planet."
On September 11, 2003, Ritter felt ill while rehearsing scenes for the second season of 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter. He was taken across the street to Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, where he died later that evening, around 10:45 pm PST. He was 54 years old. Ritter was 6 days short of his 55th birthday. The cause of his death was an aortic dissection caused by a previously undiagnosed congenital heart defect. His father had died of a heart attack almost thirty years earlier. Years later, Ritter's widow testified in court that he had concerns for his own health because of the cause of his father's death. Ritter was interred at Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles. His mother died less than two months later.
Following his death, Ritter's widow Amy Yasbeck filed a $67 million wrongful death suit against radiologist Dr. Matthew Lotysch and cardiologist Dr. Joseph Lee. Yasbeck alleged that Lee, who treated her husband on the day of his death, misdiagnosed his condition as a heart attack, and Lotysch, who had given him a full-body scan two years earlier, failed at that time to detect an enlargement of Ritter's aorta. "Both sides agree that his true condition -- an aortic dissection, which is a tear in the largest blood vessel in the body -- was not identified until right before his death." The trial began on February 11, 2008, in Los Angeles County Superior Court. On March 14, 2008, the defendants were found not responsible for Ritter's death by a jury vote of 9–3. The family already has received more than $14 million in settlements, according to court records, including $9.4 million from Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, where he died.