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John Ritter

Born September 17

by Legacy Staff

John Ritter cracked us up when he played klutzy ladies’ man Jack Tripper for eight seasons of “Three’s Company” – plus another season on its spinoff, “Three’s a Crowd.” We remember Ritter’s life today along with the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.

John Ritter cracked us up when he played klutzy ladies’ man Jack Tripper for eight seasons of “Three’s Company” – plus another season on its spinoff, “Three’s a Crowd.” His co-star, Don Knotts, called Ritter “the funniest physical comedian on the planet,” and he displayed that talent on other TV shows, too – “Hooperman,” “Hearts Afire,” and “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter” were among the shows on which he starred. In the movies, Ritter shined in “Noises Off,” “Problem Child,” and “Bad Santa” as well as dozens more. We remember Ritter’s life today along with the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.

Click to discover notable people who died this day in history including TV journalist Cokie Roberts.


1978: Nick Cordero, actor best known for starring roles in Broadway shows including “Waitress,” “Rock of Ages,” and “Bullets Over Broadway,” is born in Hamilton, Ontario.

1975: Pumpkinhead, U.S. rapper known in the New York City underground scene, is born in Brooklyn, New York.

1969: Keith Flint, energetic frontman for British electronic dance group The Prodigy, is born in London, England.

1948: John Ritter, U.S. actor known best for playing Jack Tripper on “Three’s Company,” is born in Burbank, California.

Ritter’s last role was on a new TV sitcom – “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.” Though the show lasted three seasons, Ritter graced it with his great talent for only a little more than one. During filming of the second season of “8 Simple Rules,” Ritter died after suffering an aortic dissection. The show went on without him, incorporating his death into the story … but it wasn’t the show it had set out to be. Read more

1947: Jeff MacNelly, U.S. editorial cartoonist who went on to create the comic strips “Shoe” and “Pluggers,” is born in New York, New York.

1942: Lupe Ontiveros, U.S. actress who had notable roles in the movie “Selena” and on TV’s “Desperate Housewives,” is born in El Paso, Texas.

Lupe Ontiveros (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas, file)Ontiveros played Yolanda Saldivar in “Selena.” Her other credits include “As Good As It Gets,” “Real Women Have Curves,” “The Goonies,” and “Chuck & Buck.” The actress, born Guadalupe Moreno in Texas, once estimated she had played a maid more than 300 times. Read more

1938: Paul Benedict, U.S. actor who played the Number Painter on “Sesame Street” and Harry Bentley on “The Jeffersons,” is born in Silver City, New Mexico.

Benedict began his acting career in the 1960s in the Theatre Company of Boston, alongside such future stars as Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, and Al Pacino. Benedict went on to appear in a number of movies, including a role as the oddball director in “The Goodbye Girl” with Richard Dreyfuss. But he was mainly known for his role as Bentley on “The Jeffersons,” which ran on CBS from 1975 to ’85. Read more

1935: Ken Kesey, U.S. author well-known for novels including “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Sometimes a Great Notion,” is born in La Junta, Colorado.

“Sometimes a Great Notion,” widely considered Kesey’s best book, tells the saga of the Stamper clan, rugged independent loggers carving a living out of the Oregon woods under the motto, “Never Give A Inch.” It was made into a movie starring Henry Fonda and Paul Newman. But “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” became much more widely known because of a movie that Kesey hated. It tells the story of R.P. McMurphy, who feigned insanity to get off a prison farm, only to be lobotomized when he threatened the authority of the mental hospital. The 1974 movie swept the Academy awards for best picture, best director, best actor, and best actress, but Kesey sued the producers because it took the viewpoint away from the character of the schizophrenic Indian, Chief Bromden. Read more

1934: Maureen Connolly, U.S. tennis player who was the first woman to win all four grand slam tournaments in a calendar year, is born in San Diego, California.

1932: Robert B. Parker, U.S. author known best for his Spenser series of detective novels, is born in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Robert Parker (AP Photo)Parker admired Raymond Chandler and other classic crime writers and helped bring back their cool, clipped style in the first Spenser novel, “The Godwulf Manuscript,” from 1973. Within a few years, with “Looking for Rachel Wallace” and “Early Autumn,” he was acclaimed as a master in his own right. “Hard-boiled detective fiction was essentially dead in the early ’70s. It was considered almost a museum thing,” said Ace Atkins, author of “Devil’s Garden,” “Wicked City,” and several other novels. “When Parker brought out Spenser, it reinvigorated the genre. … I wouldn’t have a job now without Robert Parker.” Read more

1931: Anne Bancroft, U.S. actress known best for movies including “The Graduate” and “The Miracle Worker,” is born in the Bronx, New York.

Despite being Bancroft’s most iconic character, “The Graduate’s” Mrs. Robinson wasn’t her favorite. She later confessed that she was ambivalent about the role, since it overshadowed her other work. And for the record, Bancroft was no cougar: In real life, she was only six years older than her “much younger man” co-star Dustin Hoffman. Read more

1930: David Huddleston, U.S. character actor known best for his role in “The Big Lebowski,” is born in Vinton, Virginia.

1930: Edgar Mitchell, U.S. astronaut who was the sixth man to walk on the moon, is born in Hereford, Texas.

1929: Stirling Moss,  legendary Formula One racer called “the greatest driver never to win the World Championship,” is born in London, England.

1928: Roddy McDowall, English actor well-known for his roles in a number of “Planet of the Apes” movies, is born in London, England.

His acting career began when he was just 10, and he achieved stardom at the tender age of 12. As the young son of a coal mining family in Wales, McDowall tugged many a heartstring in “How Green Was My Valley.” He continued his trajectory to fame with “Lassie Come Home,” in which he starred with a girl who would become a lifelong friend – a young Elizabeth Taylor. Read more

1927: George Blanda, U.S. NFL player who holds the record for most seasons of professional football played, with 26, is born in Youngwood, Pennsylvania.

George Blanda (AP photo)Blanda retired a month shy of his 49th birthday before the 1976 season, playing longer than anyone else in pro football history. He spent 10 seasons with the Chicago Bears, part of one with the Baltimore Colts, seven with the Houston Oilers, and his final nine with the Raiders. He scored 2,002 points in his career, a pro football record at the time of his retirement, kicking 335 field goals and 943 extra points, running for nine touchdowns, and throwing for 236 more. Read more

1923: Hank Williams, U.S. country music singer and guitarist whose enduring hits include “Your Cheatin’ Heart” and “Hey Good Lookin’,” is born in Butler County, Alabama.

And then there’s the eerie one. “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive” wasn’t meant to be a mournful song – it was a funny song with a silly title. But when Williams died suddenly and mysteriously, while the song was hot on the charts, it seemed to take on weight and deep meaning. Williams’s co-writer, Fred Rose, died a year later, making the song that much more poignant. Read more


1904: Jerry Colonna, U.S. comedian who was one of Bob Hope’s sidekicks on the radio and in movies, is born in Boston, Massachusetts.

1883: William Carlos Williams, U.S. poet and medical doctor whose well-known poems include “The Red Wheelbarrow” and “This Is Just To Say,” is born in Rutherford, New Jersey.

1854: David Dunbar Buick, Scottish-American inventor who founded the Buick Motor Co., is born in Arbroath, Scotland.

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