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8 Simple Rules aired from September 2002 until August 2005 on ABC.
Paul ( John Riter) was a typical harried dad in this sunny family sitcom set in the Detroit suburb of Oakdale. A sportswriter, he had missed much of his kids ' growing-up years because he was on the road . Now they were in their teens and his sensible wife, Cate ( Katey Sagal), had gone back to work as a nurse so it was up to Paul to stay home and " take care of the kids." Trouble was , they were no longer the cute little dumplings he remembered.Bridget ( Kaley Cuoco), had matured ( if that is the word) into a sexy, thong-wearing, skin-baring teen vamp, who was also a bit of an airhead; Kerry ( Amy Davidson) was the smart one but masked her insecurities with sarcasm; and Rory ( Martin Spanjers) was a little hustler who bonded with Dad because neither of them understood women. Tommy ( Larry Miller) was Paul's co-worker, and Kyle ( Billy Aaron Brown) his teenage son, who was Bridget's and later Kerry's boyfriend.
There were plenty of generation-gap lines ( to Dad: " Stop calling me care-bear!" ; " What do you know, you're like a hundred"), lots of misunderstandings and traumas about dates, but also plenty of love.
On September 11, 2003, Star John Ritter, 54, died suddenly of an undetected heart problem while filming an episode (His friend Henry Winkler was supposed to be in that episode but it was never finished and he never appeared on the show).Three episodes had already been filmed and the season premiered as planned, but then took a short hiatus in October while ABC decided what to do. When the series returned on November 4 the Hennessy family was grieving; in the storyline Paul had dropped dead while at the supermarket and Cate's estranged parents Jim and Laura Egan ( James Garner, Suzanne Pleshette)arrived to console the family. It was a realistic portrayal of a family's grief , with loving tributes to a beloved father mixed with moments of sadness and even flashes of anger( "Its so unfair! Why would God do this?" ). The aftermath continued through several episodes as each family member coped in their own way.
Grandpa Jim moved in, providing a father figure and puttering around the house-sometimes with disastrous results. In January Cate's wayward nephew C.J. ( David Spade) moved in as well, providing a questionable role model for the kids. Eventually everybody was in the dating scene, including Cate and even Grandpa Jim ( after Laura divorced him). In the final season Cate acepted the position of nurse at her kids' school and gradually began a romantic relationship with Principal Gibb ( Adam Arkin). After a series of dead-end jobs C.J. surprised everyone by becoming a teacher at the school. Bridget became student body president, Kerry revealed that she had lost her virginity while in Europe over the summer, and Rory continued to make his embarrassed way through puberty.
The title of the series was originally 8 Simple Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter but was shorten to simply 8 Simple Rules on November 18, 2002. Based on the best-selling book 8 Simple Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter and Other Tips from a Beleaguered Father ( Not That Any of Them Work) by W. Bruce Cameron.
An Article from The New York Times
Television/Radio; On the Other Side of the Sex Farce
By HUGH HART
Published: September 15, 2002
JOHN RITTER remembers walking out of Sardi's two years ago with Henry Winkler. ''The Dinner Party,'' in which they starred, had just received the Outer Critics Circle Award for outstanding Off Broadway play and Mr. Ritter was admiring his award certificate as he strolled down the street. ''I have this thing in my hand,'' he said. ''A guy comes up: 'John, congratulations!' 'Thanks.' Then he says, 'Hey man, where's Chrissy?' ''
Chrissy, of course, was Suzanne Somers's character in ''Three's Company,'' in which Mr. Ritter played the randy roommate and closeted heterosexual, Jack Tripper. During seven seasons on ABC, that phenomenally successful sitcom earned Mr. Ritter fame, fortune and an Emmy. Since it went off the air in 1984, Mr. Ritter has managed an even rarer achievement for an actor. He's remained employed -- and he's done it without relying on the smirking, pratfalling and hyperventilating he perfected as Jack Tripper.
Sipping on a glass of water in his publicist's conference room recently, Mr. Ritter riffled through a seven-page list of his credits, encompassing sitcoms, recurring dramatic roles, television and feature films, independent films, documentaries, telethons, cameos, plays and variety shows. ''It's kind of frightening, isn't it?'' said Mr. Ritter, 53, whose last series, the political sitcom ''Hearts Afire,'' ended in 1995. He admitted that not all of the entries had been gems. For every ''Sling Blade,'' there had been a ''Problem Child 2.''
But Mr. Ritter has high hopes for his latest project, ''8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter,'' which has its premiere Tuesday night on ABC. He stars as a sportswriter who tries to take charge of two bratty teenage daughters (Kaley Cuoco as the sexy blond and Amy Davidson as the brainy brunette) when his wife (Katey Sagal) returns to work.
Mr. Ritter said he had nearly passed on ''Rules'' after reading the pilot episode's first two scenes. ''I put down the script thinking, 'I'm not that interested in doing, ''Daddy's a dork,'' ''Can't you girls listen to me!'' ''I hate your boyfriend!'' ' I've seen that Mr. Mom stuff a hundred times.''
But he kept reading and, he said, came across a tender moment a few scenes later that sold him on doing the series:
''A boy's just left the 16-year-old daughter in the mall. She's upset, and the dad suddenly sees her as an 11-year-old, and then she's 5. And I loved having the dad see his daughter morph through the stages of childhood. Oh my God, I've seen that with my own children. We went to this Disney press thing the other day and my grown son Jason laughed so hard he suddenly looked to me like he did when he was 8.''
Mr. Ritter also calculated that the characters' adolescent mood swings would provide rich material. ''You see the girls struggling to a plateau of understanding for a moment, then they fall off into the abyss again, and that is adolescence,'' he said. ''As the parent, it's maddening, because you'll have a moment where you finally relax and say, 'You're fine, you're fine.' Then it starts up again when the kid goes: 'It's a pimple. Kill me now!' ''
None of Mr. Ritter's three older children -- 22-year-old Jason, who's an actor, 20-year-old Carly and 16-year old Tyler -- bear much resemblance to the volatile teenagers on the show, he said. But Stella, a toddler who is Mr. Ritter's daughter with his second wife, the actress Amy Yasbeck (''Wings''), challenges him on a daily basis. ''She'll say, 'Stupid Daddy.' I'll say, 'What?' 'Super daddy. I love you, can I have chocolate?' It's emotional blackmail, and she totally works me. Or she'll say, 'Get out please, I'd like privacy, this is for girls only.' ''
Tracy Gamble, an executive producer of ''8 Simple Rules'' whose previous credits include ''Golden Girls,'' ''Married . . . With Children'' and ''Home Improvement,'' raved about Mr. Ritter's command of his craft. ''I call it the Ritter whiplash, the way he's able to change course and emotions in the middle of a sentence,'' she said. ''But John's also a tremendous dramatic actor. So here's a guy who can knock it out of the park for a laugh, then suddenly ground the story and make you feel like you're dealing with real people. In my own head as I was writing the pilot, I wanted an average Joe, and there's something very relatable about John.''
At a recent taping, Mr. Ritter avoided the pratfalls he once excelled in, relying for comic effect on his rubbery face, altering his delivery with each run-through and playing to the studio audience between takes, jokingly warning the director to ''get back in your corner!''
''There really is no common denominator,'' Mr. Ritter said about his acting technique. ''It's a little bit of this, a little of that.''
He surely inherited some of his folksiness from his father, the cowboy singer and actor Tex Ritter. At the University of Southern California, he began studying acting with Nina Foch, then took a class with the legendary Stella Adler. In his mid-20's, befitting an actor who would eventually symbolize a particular strain of television humor, he appeared on shows with his comedic heroes: Dick Van Dyke, Richard Pryor, Mary Tyler Moore. After he became a star, Mr. Ritter tracked down the gravel-throated Lucille Ball and asked if he could be on one of her last, short-lived shows.
''I swallowed a little harmonica, she'd hit me and music would come out -- very sophisticated,'' Mr. Ritter said. ''But to see Lucy off in a corner, trying to figure out how to make a bit work for me, that was a beautiful moment.''
Mr. Ritter can quote from a David Mamet essay one minute, and in the next explain why Woody Allen's punch line from a 1971 stand-up routine about ''shooting a Buick'' on a Wisconsin hunting trip worked so well: ''Words with K's in them are funny.'' He'll praise the actor Jeffrey Tambor for being able to turn dross into comedic gold simply by breaking his voice like an adolescent midway through an otherwise pedestrian exit line, then recount how he and Mary Beth Hurt nearly brought each other to tears during an emotionally charged television movie.
''It's really about knowing your craft, and being fascinated about what went before you,'' he said. ''I treat young actors the way I'd hope older actors would treat my son: 'Welcome to the playground.' And I'd really like young actors to be respectful to me: 'Can I get you a cushion, Mr. Ritter?' ''
The irony of playing a father obsessed with defending his daughters' virtue -- 20 years after playing a swinging single obsessed with sex -- is not lost on Mr. Ritter.
''It is very weird, because I am very protective on the set,'' he said. '' 'We should have a holding tank for all the actors who play the boyfriends on the show.' Or I find myself saying, 'Why is he touching her like that?' For me it's instant karma, because I once played a guy who would love to be with these girls. And now I play a guy who wouldn't mind blowing Jack Tripper's brains out if he touched my girls. It's like, 'Oh, now I see how annoying Jack could be for a father.' ''
A Review from The New York Times
TELEVISION REVIEWS; Life With Father, Not to Mention Mom and the Kids
By RON WERTHEIMER
Published: September 17, 2002
Here are eight simple rules for creating a sitcom:
1. Start with some material that already has a track record. Thus, ''8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter,'' which starts tonight on ABC, is loosely based on a book with that title by the humor columnist W. Bruce Cameron.
2. Focus on one of life's basic conflicts, in this case the eternal friction between parents and teenagers.
3. Hire some familiar television personalities, like John Ritter and Katey Sagal, and give them roles that are different (but not too different) from their previous assignments. Here Mr. Ritter is Paul Hennessy, a columnist and loving but hapless father, who could be Jack Tripper of ''Three's Company,'' having grown appropriately older and heftier. And Ms. Sagal is Paul's wife, Cate, a nurse and accommodating mom, who could be Peg Bundy of ''Married . . . With Children,'' having toned down the shtick by a few hundred degrees.
4. Add some easily differentiated kids who are always one step ahead of Dad. Bridget (Kaley Cuoco), 16, is a gorgeous blond knockout and an airhead. Kerry (Amy Davidson), 15, is a smart and sassy redhead. Rory (Martin Spanjers), 13, is a little wise guy who loves watching his father lose every skirmish of the intergenerational war.
5. Give them all a big, bright kitchen and living room to pace around. Check.
6. Give them some little problems that they can confront without any serious consequences. Check.
7. Make sure that everybody looks cute at all times. Check.
8. Tie it all together with snappy dialogue that sheds a bit of light on the human condition.
This show manages to obey Rules 1 through 7. No. 8? Well, that might be too much to ask.
So this passes for wit. In tonight's episode Paul sighs and says: ''The girls don't seem to like me very much. Where did you go wrong, Cate?''
The two episodes of ''8 Simple Rules'' that were available for review contained tantalizing hints of a better show that might have been (or might yet be).
There's the look in Cate's eye, when she looks at Paul, that seems to say she knows he's a fool, but she loves him, so it's all right. There's the look on Kerry's face when she wishes, just for a second, that she could be Daddy's little girl again; then it passes and she goes back to reading ''The Bell Jar.'' And there are Mr. Ritter's bumbling attempts to connect with his children, who now dwell in a realm beyond his reach.
Fathers will recognize that silent affirmation: You're sure you could make things better if only you could think of the right words.
On television as in life, dads would be more successful if they had better writers.
8 SIMPLE RULES FOR DATING MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER
ABC, Tonight at 8, Eastern and Pacific times; 7 Central time.
Directed by Gil Junger; created by Tracy Gamble; based on the book of the same title by W. Bruce Cameron; Ms. Gamble, Tom Shadyac, Flody Suarez and Michael Bostick, executive producers; a Touchstone Television production.
WITH: John Ritter (Paul Hennessy), Katey Sagal (Cate Hennessy), Kaley Cuoco (Bridget Hennessy), Amy Davidson (Kerry Hennessy) and Martin Spanjers (Rory Hennessy).
A Review of 8 Simple Rules
8 SIMPLE RULES FOR DATING MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER
Regular airtime: Tuesdays, 8pm EST (ABC)
Producers: Tracy Gamble, Tom Shadyac, Flody Suarez, Michael Bostick
Cast: John Ritter, Katey Sagal, Kaley Cuoco, Amy Davidson, Martin Spanjers
by Leah Hochbaum
It is ironic that John Ritter -- who first found fame as Three's Company's Jack Tripper, the closeted, hormonally charged male third of TV's most unwholesome threesome -- is thrust again into the spotlight as a dad who would never dream of letting his two daughters go out with a man like Jack. In ABC's new comedy, 8 Simple Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter, Ritter plays Paul Hennessy, a columnist who's forced to take on more responsibility at home when his wife, Cate (Married With Children's Katey Sagal, looking great sans her Peg Bundy bouffant 'do), goes back to work.
The first two episodes of the series are concrete proof that Ritter's still got it, that intangible and inexplicable ability to elicit gut-busting laughter with a twitch of an eye. But his character is too familiar, his context too trite. In fact, Paul is the man Jack Tripper might have grown up to be, had failed contract negotiations and a revolving door for blondes not driven Three's Company to an early grave.
The similarities between the two shows do not end there. Like Jack, Paul is surrounded by females. And his two daughters bear uncanny resemblances to the other two-thirds of the celebrated 1970s trio. There's Bridget (Ladies Man's Kaley Cuoco), the dimwitted blonde bombshell la Suzanne Somers' Chrissy, and Kerry (Amy Davidson of the Olsen twins-driven So Little Time), a petulant brunette who makes Joyce DeWitt's Janet seem almost congenial. There's also a boy, 13-year-old Rory (Martin Spanjers), whose immature machinations are reminiscent of Jack's smarmy best friend, Larry, played with unctuous glee by Richard Kline.
Even beyond these repetitions, the kids are stock sitcom characters. Bridget is the scholastically challenged beauty with boy troubles; Kerry is the insecure middle child who isn't quite as pretty, but is twice as witty as her big sis; Rory's only purpose is to bug his sisters. While the pilot merely introduces the characters, episode two, entitled "Wall of Shame," is as hackneyed as they come -- a full 30 minutes of Paul complaining that he's missing a big game on TV because he has to deal with his ne'er-do-well offspring.
While 8 Simple Rules is "based on" the best-selling book by W. Bruce Cameron, it blatantly swipes elements from nearly every other sitcom on TV. Paul is a sportswriter just like Everybody Loves Raymond's title character. Kerry is a milder version of Roseanne's acerbic Darlene (Davidson even shares actress Sara Gilbert's trademark curly coif). With no storyline of his own, Rory pops up every other scene with a cute punch line about his dad's inept parenting or his sisters' latest predicaments, just as Roseanne's D.J. used to do once upon a time. And Sagal's Cate is simply the latest in a long line of accommodating TV wives who shake their heads at their husbands' antics when the script says they should.
What makes the show slightly twisted, however, is the knowledge that only a few years ago, Ritter would have been playing one of Bridget's or Kerry's sex-obsessed suitors, rather than protective father. While it is expected that boys will be sex-obsessed in their youth, it is also expected that they will grow up into monogamous individuals. Had Jack been allowed to age, he might have found that he had more in common with Janet than Chrissy, given her a ring, bought a house in the suburbs, franchised his restaurant and fathered a number of tiny future chefs. Paul is still interested in sex, but regular romps with his wife make it weigh less on his mind.
So the show isn't quite the mold-breaking comedy phenomenon audiences and ABC had been hoping for (ABC is particularly desperate, after Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, Dharma and Greg, and Spin City plummeted to ratings oblivion last season). But even if the show is too familiar, I for one don't mind watching Ritter do his same old act, again.
30 September 2002
An Article from The New York Times
A NIGHT OUT WITH: John Ritter and Amy Yasbeck; Clowning and Autographing
By LINDA LEE
Published: March 9, 2003
THREE was good company on a chilly evening recently when John Ritter, a lifelong buffoon, his wife, Amy Yasbeck, and their gum-chewing 4-year-old, Stella, headed out into Manhattan.
Mr. Ritter is the star of the comedy series ''8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter,'' which ABC has just picked up for a second season. But he is stopped on the street as ''Jack,'' the character he played on the 1970's jiggle show ''Three's Company.''
In the lobby of NBC at Rockefeller Center, after he finished taping ''Late Night With Conan O'Brien,'' fans held out pictures for him to autograph, but they were pictures of Jack with his roommates, Chrissy and Janet. As the fans carried their signed photographs away, he yelled after them, ''Where's my wallet?''
Mr. Ritter, 54, has three mostly grown children from a first marriage. Ms. Yasbeck, 40, was formerly on the television series ''Wings,'' and is his match at snappy retorts. ''She's half Irish, half Lebanese,'' he said, ''and you don't want either half mad at you.''
In the Town Car, they began discussing a skit he had taped with Mr. O'Brien. ''And then at the end,'' she noted, ''you put an onion down your pants.''
''Ame,'' he said, using his nickname for her, ''if you smell something down around my knee area, you'll know.''
Onions down the pants leg reminded her of what she called ''a pants squirrel.'' ''When I was a teenager,'' she said, ''you'd take your Jordaches off really fast at night, then jump up in the morning and put them on again. Somewhere at school you'd look down and see your pants squirrel, yesterday's rolled-up underwear, somewhere down around your knee. Those Jordaches were so tight.''
As the Town Car stopped, Ms. Yasbeck asked Mr. Ritter to carry Stella inside Serendipity, an Upper East Side ice cream parlor. ''I am not your donkey,'' he said.
''Not until Stella's asleep,'' she answered.
Squeezing through the entryway to Serendipity, Mr. Ritter was followed by a chorus of ''Jack!'' Upstairs, settled at a big round table, Ms. Yasbeck peeled clothes off Stella. ''I'm perimenopausal,'' she said. ''So I'm always undressing her.''
Mr. Ritter took a menu and said, ''Calamari with chocolate sauce for everyone.'' (Ms. Yasbeck has been a vegetarian for 22 years -- ''nothing with a face or a mother,'' as she puts it.)
Despite the incessant clowning -- at one point he stuck a packet of Equal to his forehead -- Mr. Ritter does reveal his intelligence. He pronounces ''forte'' correctly, as in fort. He raved about seeing ''The Exonerated'' Off Broadway. And he had no respect for reality television. '' 'Hello, Meat Market,' '' he said, '' 'Are You Hot?' Who thought Chuck Barris was a visionary?''
While Mr. Ritter was busy with fans at the next table who wanted to take a photograph with him (''Jack!'' they said; ''Where's my wallet?'' he answered), his wife said: ''Dad, look, her first bubble!''
''Wait until she starts throwing the dishes and going 'hoopah,' '' he said.
Another fan came up, and he introduced the family. ''This is my oldest child, Amy,'' he said, ''and this is my youngest child.'' Stella was busy with her spaghetti.
A moment later Ms. Yasbeck made an announcement: ''Excuse me, I'm busy being recognized over here. They are 'Wings' fans.''
She turned to the table behind her. ''Sure you can take my picture. Oh, you don't have a camera? Get them a pencil. They want to do a quick pencil sketch of me.''
The big moment was at hand, the arrival of the frozen hot chocolate in a giant goblet. Stella began alternately spooning it and slurping it, eyes open wide.
Mr. Ritter was talking about life back home in Los Angeles. ''Jackie Chan is our neighbor,'' he said. ''A severed finger comes over the hedge, we just throw it back.''
He stared at his daughter, who was now thrashing her hair back and forth in pleasure. ''She'll be outside Serendipity at 7 in the morning saying, 'Are you open yet?' ''
Stella looked up dreamily and asked, ''Are we still in New York?''
Mr. Ritter took control. ''Darling,'' he said. ''I think you've had enough.''
John's Obituary from The New York Times
John Ritter, 54, the Odd Man In 'Three's Company,' Is Dead
By DOUGLAS MARTIN
Published: September 13, 2003
John Ritter, who played the lovably goofy closet heterosexual Jack Tripper in the television comedy series ''Three's Company,'' a smash hit in the 1970's, died on Thursday night in Burbank, Calif. He was 54.
Mr. Ritter became ill on the set of ''8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter,'' his current series on ABC, and died at a local hospital, Susan Wilcox, his assistant, said in an interview with The Associated Press. The cause was an aortic dissection, a break in the main artery that carries blood from the heart, Ms. Wilcox said.
In ''Three's Company,'' Mr. Ritter's character is the lucky man who shares an apartment with two beautiful women, Chrissy, played by Suzanne Somers, and Janet, played by Joyce DeWitt. A prudish landlord and his sex-starved wife have been told that Jack is gay, allowing the show to offer a weekly dose of innuendo and double meaning, but scant real sex.
Critics decried it as everything from an empty-headed waste of time to a symptom of moral rot, but it quickly became one of the highest-rated programs in television history.
Mr. Ritter won an Emmy and other awards for his performance on ''Three's Company,'' and many viewers and not a few critics acknowledged that he regularly rose above his material.
He used the series, which ran from 1977 to 1984, to carve out an identity that led him to many other roles. He starred in two other sitcoms as well, ''Hooperman'' and ''Hearts Afire.'' He appeared in television movies, mini-series (including Stephen King's ''It'') and feature films (including ''Sling Blade'' and ''Tadpole'').
He popped up on sitcoms like ''Ally McBeal,'' for which he was nominated for an Emmy. He received another Emmy nomination for his role as the voice of Clifford the Big Red Dog on the PBS animated series for children. In 2001, he won a Theater World Award for his Broadway performance with Henry Winkler in ''The Dinner Party.''
''He's the most natural actor I've seen since Jimmy Stewart,'' Peter Bogdanovich, the filmmaker, said in an interview with The New York Times in 1987.
Johnathan Southworth Ritter was born in Burbank on Sept. 17, 1948. His father was the singing cowboy Tex Ritter, and his mother, Dorothy Fay, an actress, became the official greeter at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.
''John was always playing a part, even as a little boy,'' his mother said in an interview with TV Guide in 1978. ''When he played baseball he'd pretend that he was one of the Dodger stars, impersonating Don Drysdale or Maury Wills.''
He was student body president at Hollywood High School but spent summers touring with his parents as his father made the rounds of the nation's fairgrounds and rodeos. When his parents settled in Nashville, he visited them and met many country music stars, including Johnny Cash, his favorite of the ones he encountered, according to Current Biography.
At the University of Southern California, he switched from psychology to drama and studied with Nina Foch, the actress and drama coach. He later studied with Stella Adler and attended the Harvey Lembeck Comedy Workshop in Hollywood, where he became close friends with Robin Williams.
His father, Tex, failed to interest him in the guitar and was at first against an acting career. ''Just don't get cocky,'' he advised. John heeded the advice.
''John's all about not taking life too seriously,'' his ''Three's Company'' co-star Ms. DeWitt said in an interview with People magazine in 2002. ''There were days we went home from rehearsal with our cheeks sore from laughing.''
Mr. Ritter is survived by his wife, Amy Yasbeck, and their daughter, Stella, as well as by the three children from his first marriage, to Nancy Morgan: Jason, Carly and Tyler.
John Ritter's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is next to his father's.
An Article from The New York Times
After a Star's Death, Hard Choices for ABC
By BERNARD WEINRAUB
Published: October 7, 2003
The sudden death of the actor John Ritter on Sept. 11 put ABC executives in the unusually delicate position of dealing quickly with an event that had left them stunned, grieving and perplexed about the future of his popular sitcom, ''8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.''
Mr. Ritter had died of a tear in the main artery to the heart at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, across the street from the Walt Disney Studios, where he had been taping what would prove to be his last episode, one that will be broadcast Tuesday at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific times, 7 p.m. Central time. The series will then go on hiatus for a period of weeks and reappear later, retooled to acknowledge the death. That course of action took some time to crystallize.
''The first few days we really didn't talk much about the show,'' said Lloyd Braun, the chairman of the ABC Entertainment Television Group. ''People were emotional messes. Everyone was grieving. We knew it had to be one day at a time.''
The sitcom had been intensely important to ABC, a Disney-owned network. The show, in which Mr. Ritter played a married father of three teenagers, had served as the network's anchor in Tuesday night's lineup of family comedies since its debut in September 2002. It was a modest but growing hit, central to the network's comeback efforts after an overreliance on ''Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.''
Moreover, Mr. Braun and Susan Lyne, president of ABC Entertainment, had personal stakes in the show's success. Mr. Braun, a well-liked executive, had endured several turbulent years in the job and was seeking to restore ABC's stability by returning to its roots as a family-oriented network. For Ms. Lyne, the new season was her first full-fledged opportunity to put her stamp on the network, since new shows take so long to develop. She was appointed in January 2002, and the Ritter show was the cornerstone of what she called ABC's ''new era.''
How to find the balance between being respectful of a tragic situation -- ABC received numerous letters and e-mail messages paying tribute to Mr. Ritter -- and making a business decision in the best interests of ABC and Disney consumed ABC executives.
''Obviously, decisions had to be made,'' Mr. Braun said. ''A lot of people's livelihoods were wrapped up in the show. You have crews and writers and actors, people earning a living from the show. You had to make decisions.''
Mr. Braun, Ms. Lyne and Stephen McPherson, the president of Touchstone Television, the Disney unit that produced the show, said separately that in the first days after Mr. Ritter's death there was no discussion at all about the show's future. The only decision made was that the series would be shut down until further notice.
Amy Yasbeck, an actress and Mr. Ritter's wife, met with ABC and Touchstone Television executives. What preoccupied the executives was comforting not only Mr. Ritter's real family but also his television family of actors, writers and crew members, who were, in Ms. Lyne's words, ''intensely close to him.''
Beyond this, the executives said, they became instantly aware that Mr. Ritter's death had stirred viewers. ABC replaced the Ritter show on the first Tuesday after his death with a news special, with Diane Sawyer as host, that recounted the comedian's career and last day. The one-hour special was that night's most watched show, drawing about 14 million viewers.
Ms. Lyne said: ''There's this thing about television, particularly television comedy and family comedies. You're in somebody's living room and bedroom. You're in people's lives in a powerful way. You do feel close to these television families. It is different when the father in a family comedy dies than when an actor on a show dies.''
ABC executives said that their first impulse was to scuttle the show entirely. Although the network decided to present the three remaining episodes that Mr. Ritter had made before his death -- with Katey Sagal, who played the wife in the series, introducing the first one -- the future of the show was initially up in the air.
Almost immediately trade papers began reporting that Tony Danza and Henry Winkler were being considered as Mr. Ritter's replacements. ''Nothing made me angrier in the days after the tragedy than to read various names of people being considered to replace John,'' Mr. Braun said. ''It was absolutely insane. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It was never on our radar.''
ABC executives and Mr. McPherson knew that sometime after the actor's funeral on Sept. 15, they would have to make a decision. They spoke to friends and associates of his as well as cast members. The consensus was that the show should continue.
''Everyone felt that dealing with the tragedy on-air was the right thing to do creatively and cathartically,'' Mr. McPherson said. ''It seemed to be the best choice.''
Ms. Lyne echoed that. ''We were getting so many e-mails and calls and letters from people about John, a lot of people sending in their own stories about losing a family member,'' Ms. Lyne recalled. ''Before the funeral we had not been mulling things over. Lloyd and I are usually in sync on things. And at some point, one of us said to the other -- and I can't remember which of us said it -- 'What do you think about keeping the show going and making this part of the story?' ''
Mr. Ritter's wife endorsed the decision to continue the show. She said in a statement released by ABC that her husband ''believed in this show and its message that a strong family can get through anything.''
Ms. Yasbeck also said of the show's cast, ''I know John would want his friends to continue doing what they love.''
Mr. Ritter's enduring popularity was underscored by the ratings of the first two shows presented posthumously. The first drew about 17 million viewers, and the second had an audience of 15.5 million. Both weeks, it was the most watched television show of the night. Last year, in the first full season of ''8 Simple Rules,'' the average audience for the show was 10.9 million.
The new show will focus on the impact of a father's death on a family, with Mr. Ritter's television wife, Ms. Sagal, playing the prominent role. By all accounts the revised series, now being written, will hardly have the same comedic drive as the one starring Mr. Ritter.
''We made the decision to deal with John's death head on,'' Mr. Braun said. ''It will be a different type of show. As time goes by -- just as in real life -- comedy will be introduced back into the show. It will be natural and organic.''
Guest stars will appear as family members or friends, an obvious effort to lure audiences and one that, ABC executives said, will serve the story line, because a death in the family inevitably brings in relatives and outsiders.
Mr. Braun and other television executives emphasized that there was little precedent for dealing with the death of Mr. Ritter on the series. In 1991 the comedian Redd Foxx died of a heart attack after he had made seven episodes of the CBS series ''The Royal Family.'' The show returned without him months later but lasted only a few episodes. The comedian Freddie Prinze, a star of NBC's ''Chico and the Man,'' committed suicide in 1977 in the third year of the sitcom. A new and younger Chico was added to the cast, but the show ended in 1978. Phil Hartman, the comedian, was part of the large ensemble cast of NBC's ''NewsRadio'' when he was murdered in 1998. The show lasted one more season.
''We looked for examples, but there was no real history for this,'' Mr. Braun said. ''We're in uncharted territory. What's the right thing to do? That's what we keep asking ourselves.''
An Article from Variety
8 Simple Rules ... For Dating My Teenage Daughter
(Series -- ABC, Tue., Nov. 4, 8 p.m.)
By BRIAN LOWRY
In a special episode of ABC's '8 Simple Rules' that aired Tuesday, John Ritter's fictional family dealt with the death of his character.
More than one option(Person) John Ritter
Actor, Co-Producer, Executive Producer
(Person) John Ritter
Special Effects Assistant
(Person) John Ritter
Filmed in Los Angeles by ShadyAcres Entertainment and FlodyCo in association with Touchstone Television. Executive producers, Tracy Gamble, Flody Suarez, Michael Bostick, Tom Shadyac; co-executive producer, Gayle Abrams, Seth Kurland, Ric Swartzlander, Martin Weiss; supervising producer, Bill Callahan; producer, Bonnie Kallman; director, James Widdoes; writers, David Flebotte, Weiss, Kallman, Gamble;
Cate - Katey Sagal
Bridget - Kaley Cuoco
Kerry - Amy Davidson
Rory - Martin Spanjers
In the immediate aftermath of John Ritter's death, it was hard to take issue with ABC's decisions, since execs were thrust into an untenable situation. Since then, however, there has been a vague ghoulishness surrounding the show, including big viewer tune-in for the remaining Ritter episodes and ABC News' synergistic efforts such as Diane Sawyer's interview with the actor's widow, Amy Yasbeck. Predictably, if morbidly, Tuesday's one-hour return episode drew a vast audience, bolstering ABC's sweeps bottom line. And now, one suspects, the show will pretty quickly fade.
There was nothing surprising about this genial series in happier days, and there was nothing surprising about what one of the ratings hotlines labeled "the death episode." The hour delivered lots of group hugs, tears and platitudes about the unfairness of such a loss, best delivered by an avuncular James Garner.
The consistent refrain from the network and cast has been "This happens to families," which is of course true. It does not happen often, however, to light-hearted sitcom families, and incorporating the Ritter character's passing is uncomfortable terrain.
After some playful banter among the kids reminding us what the series had been about, Cate (Katey Sagal) receives a phone call, learning that her husband Paul has collapsed at the grocery store.
Soon, Cate's "bitterly divorced" parents, played by Garner and Suzanne Pleshette, arrive to provide moral support. As they bicker about artificial sweeteners and attending church, it's amazing how much you found yourself missing the laughtrack, conspicuously absent from the episode.
Director James Widdoes and the four credited writers clearly sought to be sensitive, and there was something irresistibly emotional about the fictitious family's pain given its real-life underpinnings. Still, most of the stabs at comedy felt forced, including cameos by John Ratzenberger and Patrick Warburton, expressing their condolences.
Nothing, in fact, was subtle about this hour. Each scene was connected by melancholy guitar chords, working overtime to create a properly somber tone. Similarly, the underlying plot thread -- in which all the characters feel guilt about their final encounters with the family's late patriarch -- was so neatly resolved (Paul, a newspaper columnist, magically addressed their concerns through a posthumously discovered column) as to feel a bit cloying.
For the most part, Sagal pulled off the most demanding aspects of the episode, even saddled with dialogue like 'We don't deserve this" as she questions God about the unfairness of life.
Yet just because she cuddled up with kids at the end doesn't mean everything's going to be alright. Inspired by W. Bruce Cameron's book, the series hinged on Ritter's deft exasperation dealing with his teenagers. The re-engineered dramedy might work as a "very special episode," but it will likely offer little allure to viewers now that they've seen where the show is headed. In a media culture hurtling by at an increasingly frantic pace, a percentage of the audience can be counted upon to seek out any such novelty. Their curiosity satisfied, much of America will move on, letting the made-up Hennessy family and those who loved the actual man grieve privately, offscreen.
It's not fair, and it might not even be nice. But in the modern media, those are the rules.
An Article From The New York Times
THE TV WATCH; No Simple Rules For Dealing With Death
Published: November 5, 2003
Last night's episode of ''8 Simple Rules . . . for Dating My Teenage Daughter'' on ABC was taped without a laugh track: the network sitcom equivalent of boots reversed in the stirrups of a riderless horse.
The network chose to work John Ritter's sudden death in September into the plot of a special one-hour episode. Paul Hennessy, the newspaperman Mr. Ritter played, ran out for milk one morning and died of a heart attack in the supermarket, leaving his wife, Cate, and three teenage children to deal with their shock and loss. Unlike ABC's mawkish promos, the actual show was done as tastefully as television permits, blending scenes of sorrow with wry touches of comic relief.
James Garner, who made a guest appearance as the grandfather, was a huge help. When his wife (Suzanne Pleshette), busily helping Cate wrap up food from the wake, scolded him for rushing their daughter into finding her husband's last column, he sarcastically replied, ''I'm sorry, I know professional obligations aren't nearly as important'' as freezing leftovers. If the series had ended with this episode, there would be no question that the writers and producers had found an effective and fitting finale. But ''8 Simple Rules'' is one of ABC's few hit sitcoms, and the network intends to keep it going. The executives decided that the more reasonable course would be to follow the grief-stricken Hennessy family as it struggles to get on with life.
The half-hour sitcom format is almost ideally unsuited to depicting profound loss and raw wounds. Even in this longer episode, some things seemed too neatly contrived. All three children reacted differently to the news, but by episode's end, all three had rallied, found some measure of peace and were able to provide one another and their mother with loving support. But children do not always bounce back and find their better natures after a death, particularly a parent's premature one. Anger, guilt, fear and sorrow surge up in all sorts of untidy, destructive ways that do not fit a 22-minute arc.
In earlier television eras, of ''My Three Sons,'' or ''The Partridge Family,'' mothers and fathers were often dead, chiefly as a convenience; single parents provided more opportunities for romantic subplots. In those days difficult emotions like a child's loneliness or grief were conveniently air-brushed out, along with pregnancy and double beds.
Today most successful family sitcoms, from ''Yes, Dear,'' to ''According to Jim,'' showcase two-parent households. Viewers have grown accustomed to more realistic depictions of family life and do not easily accept children who seem blithely unmarked by the loss of a mother or father. ''Everwood,'' one of the WB network's more popular shows, is centered on the relationship of a father and a son after the mother dies, and it is an emotionally fraught hourlong drama.
The initial appeal of ''8 Simple Rules'' lay in the playful friction between Paul Hennessy and his sarcastic, at times astonishingly rude teenage daughters, Bridget (Kaley Cuoco) and Kerry (Amy Davidson). Mr. Ritter was the straight man, a stay-at-home dad who was perennially one step behind his knowing, needling daughters and smart-aleck son, Rory (Martin Spanjers).
The children were amusing because their swerving emotions were propelled by nothing more ominous than adolescent hormones. Now that they have an all-too-real reason to lash out, talk back, sulk and disappoint, they may seem a lot less funny. And ''8 Simple Rules'' may seem like a strange hybrid -- neither a sitcom nor a drama, but some awkward compromise in between.
A Review from Entertainment Weekly
Published on November 10, 2003
8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter ( B-By Ken Tucker
The loss of John Ritter -- his shocking death in September at age 54 -- was felt anew with the return of ''8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter'' on Nov. 4. What was intended to be a touching, expanded hour-long edition of the sitcom -- whose producers had decided to mirror real life and have Ritter's character, newspaper columnist Paul Hennessy, die with premature suddenness -- proved to be an awkward botch. It did Ritter's ebullient spirit no great honor to have his costars slog through a weepy installment of the comedy, which also tried to slide in a few mild laughs. This episode only emphasized what a mediocre show ''8 Simple Rules...'' was whenever Ritter wasn't on camera to mug endearingly and give a cornball line a wise-guy spin that could occasionally rouse a viewer's grin.
Just before Katey Sagal's Cate received the bad news via a phone call, her children, teenagers Bridget (Kaley Cuoco), Kerry (Amy Davidson), and Rory (Martin Spanjers), were doing some typical squabbling -- variations on the usual poor-taste, banal running gag about how ''hot'' Bridget is. After Paul's death was announced, Cate's parents -- characters we'd never seen before -- came to comfort the family. They were played by the exemplary TV veterans Suzanne Pleshette and James Garner. Garner had the instinctive grace to underplay every scene, as though he felt obliged to help out a troubled show, but could not quite commit to an episode that had him changing a lightbulb as a metaphor for bringing some brightness into the Hennessys' lives.
Pleshette's job was even more onerous than the one she faced trying to shore up ''Good Morning, Miami'': She had to be the person to tell Cate that this death was ''all part of God's plan'' -- so that Cate could at first discount the Almighty and then accept His will. When ''8 Simple Rules...'' premiered, some critics, myself included, noted that Sagal, such a strong presence previously in ''Married...With Children,'' had been reduced to a curiously small supporting role. Now, pushed to the forefront, her skills have become apparent. Sagal invested many trite lines with a controlled emotion that made them bearable. The same cannot be said for Bridget's plaint -- ''The last thing I said to him was 'I hate you!''' -- which just came off as selfishly bratty as everything else this irritating character has said for the past season.
The hour felt obliged to go through as many of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross' five stages of grief as possible in the space of 60 minutes -- minus ads for the likes of Pizza Hut. Such phases as denial, anger, depression, and acceptance were handled with unseemly haste. I'm sure some viewers were moved by this hour, but I think it's a mistake to let this process go on. Continuing with ''8 Simple Rules...'' so it can get back to laugh-tracked yuks about how trampy Bridget is -- that's no way to salute John Ritter, or for ABC to pull in ratings they can live with.
An Article from the Seattle Post
Cast of Ritter's sitcom handles his death with grace and sincerity
By MELANIE MCFARLAND, SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER TELEVISION CRITIC Published 10:00 pm PST, Monday, November 10, 2003
In the midst of last week's storm surrounding CBS and "The Reagans," you may have missed something sweet and lovely that happened over on ABC.
On Tuesday night, the cast, producers and writers of "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter" took their tragic loss of a co-star and friend and, in a nod to moving on, created honest, wonderful television.
That's saying something. Considering the way television can bungle these things, the sitcom's return without John Ritter, whose sudden death of an aortic dissection in September shocked so many, could have been a lot worse.
After Ritter's death, the cast and the network mourned, quite publicly, to strong ratings that, overnight, turned the network's modest hit into a legitimate contender bleeding viewers from its comedy competition on NBC.
Having seen that power, the announcement that "8 Simple Rules" would continue was understandably met with a bit of cynicism. Some wondered if the Ritter-less series would exploit the beloved 54-year-old's death for the sake of ratings, drumming us over the head with ersatz sorrow.
Others perhaps couldn't see the point of going on, citing past failures like "Chico and the Man." In that sitcom, principal star Freddie Prinze committed suicide in 1977, the show's third season. Though producers attempted to replace him with a younger star, the show died only a season later. The same fate befell "NewsRadio" when Phil Hartman was shot dead by his wife, who then turned the gun on herself, in 1998. In came Jon Lovitz, but the magic was gone.
Television's even less forgiving now than it was then, which means that the revamped "8 Simple Rules" has a mountain climb ahead of it. More than 20 million tuned in for the Hennessys' laugh-free return last week, making it a rare success in a lackluster November.
Moreover, the attention was well-deserved. The tears and mourning blurred the line between the characters' feelings and the cast's true emotions, creating an hour that felt tragically, realistically heartrending.
The episode, which wasn't available for critics to review last week, brought home the random, stupefying nature of death as the cast and characters addressed this new gap in their lives. The writers could have fallen back on maudlin sap and fancy speeches, but commendably, they didn't. Instead, the Hennessys' sorrow was allowed to exist as hollow, unchartered space, exactly as it should be.
Conveyed through a series of glimpses, the episode's deft writing showed how death swoops in and weighs down the simplest of conversations. Their final moments with their dad were typical gaffes and random moments -- Cate (Katey Sagal) laughing at her husband's lost socks, Rory (Martin Spanjers) tripping over Paul's shoes left on the stair, Bridget (Kaley Cuoco) and Kerry (Amy Davidson) lamenting their meaningless insults as he left -- all imbued with terrible importance after his death.
James Garner's entry as Jim, Cate's dad, provided a rock-steady, somewhat grizzled counterpoint to the occasional outbursts of adolescent rage. And all speech became dumb, pointless, yet kind, as characters struggled to say and do the right thing, in a situation for which there is no foolproof emotional etiquette.
"You know what his last words to me were?" Cate said to her kids. " 'Hasta la vista baby!' Such a cornball. He would say anything, he didn't care how silly he was. He just wanted to make us laugh. ... So, somebody's going to have to take up the cornball slack around here."
A fitting statement, because Paul's funeral is over.
Tonight at 8 on KOMO/4, the series takes the Hennessys back to their half-hour time slot, while the specter of Dad's death remains present. The laugh track is supposed to return, although to maintain the series' feeling, the formula's going to need some tinkering. Perhaps a solution will be to incorporate Garner's grumpy old man into the mix, but he's more grump than cornball.
Ritter was clearly the hub of "8 Simple Rules' " humor, and if Sagal takes up some of his paternal quirks for the sake of wringing out a few laughs, viewers might not buy it.
Based on last week's efforts, however, I'm curious to tune in for a few more episodes. This season has proven that there's little rhyme or reason to why a show makes it or doesn't. In that kind of environment, an experiment like this will be worth monitoring. Last week "8 Simple Rules" showed what it can do at its best. Maybe the cast and crew can harness that drive and determination into creating success out of sadness.
Here is James Garner Obituary from variety
July 20, 2014 12:25AM PT
James Garner of ‘Maverick,’ ‘Rockford Files,’ Dies at 86
Amiable film and television actor James Garner, who starred in popular television series “Maverick” and “The Rockford Files,” died Saturday at his home in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. He was 86.
Like many popular leading men of Hollywood’s heyday, Garner boasted all-American good looks and a winning personality that carried him through comedy and drama alike. Garner won two Emmys and racked up a total of 15 nominations. He had his greatest impact in television, first on “Maverick” in the ’50s and then in the ’70s on “The Rockford Files,” for which he won an Emmy in 1977. He later appeared in several quality telepics including “Promise,” “My Name Is Bill W.” and “Barbarians at the Gate,” as well as the occasional strong feature such as “Victor/Victoria” and “Murphy’s Romance,” for which he captured his sole Oscar nomination for lead actor.
Garner found his way to showbiz through a friend, theater producer Paul Gregory: He was employed cueing actor Lloyd Nolan during rehearsals of the Broadway-bound “The Caine Mutiny Court Martial.” Garner eventually copped a nonspeaking role in the 1954 production, where, he said, he closely studied the play’s star, Henry Fonda. After studying with Herbert Berghof, Garner landed a role in the touring production of “Caine.”
Back in Los Angeles in 1955, he secured bit parts in the TV series “Cheyenne.” Impressed, Warner Bros. gave him a screen test and a contract at $200 a week. He paid his dues in supporting roles in “Towards the Unknown,” “The Girl He Left Behind” and “Shootout at Medicine Bend” as well as some TV assignments.
He was first really noticeable in a role as Marlon Brando’s pal in “Sayonara,” after which he was assigned a supporting role in “Darby’s Rangers.” When “Darby’s” lead Charlton Heston walked off the film, Garner inherited his first starring role, but reviews were mixed.
The real boost to his career came in a role now indelibly associated with him, that of Bret Maverick in the comedic Western that ABC debuted in 1957; the role and the series fit his wry personality like a glove. Originally the story was to alternate between the Maverick brothers played by Garner and Jack Kelly, but “Maverick” quickly became all about Garner’s character, who used his wits to get out of trouble. Other actors revolved in and out including Clint Eastwood as a vicious gunfighter. “Maverick” led to a long relationship between Garner and its creator, Roy Huggins. The actor stayed with the series until 1960, when he quit over a dispute with Warners.
“I’m playing me,” Garner said about the role. “Bret Maverick is lazy: I’m lazy. And I like being lazy.”
Lazy or not, the actor shared the Golden Globe for most promising male newcomer in 1958 and earned his first Emmy nomination in 1959 for “Maverick.”
In the meantime, Warners was serving him frustrating fare like “Up Periscope” and “Cash McCall.” Taking advantage of a suspension during the Writers Guild strike of 1960, Garner sued Warners for breach of contract — and won — allowing him to be a free agent and demand more for his services.
He appeared in specials before landing a supporting role in “The Children’s Hour” with Shirley MacLaine and Audrey Hepburn.
His roles in films got better: “Boys’ Night Out” and, especially, “The Great Escape” brought him his best notices. He said that he drew on his experience in the Korean War, during which he was the company scrounger, for the latter role.
For a time he seemed ready to inherit the aging Cary Grant’s romantic comedy leading man mantle with such films as “The Thrill of It All” (1963), “The Wheeler Dealers” and “Move Over Darling.” Arthur Hiller gave him a meatier assignment, in the satire “The Americanization of Emily,” opposite the then-red-hot Julie Andrews. He then nabbed the thriller “36 Hours” and a couple of indifferent comedies, “The Art of Love” and “A Man Could Get Killed.”
The films were now A-budget, but “Duel at Diablo,” “Mr. Buddwing” and “Grand Prix,” which gave him a yen for car racing, weren’t particularly memorable.
During this period he appeared in Westerns including “Hour of the Gun” (in which he played Wyatt Earp), comedy Western “Support Your Local Sheriff,” “They Only Kill Their Masters,” “Marlowe” and “Skin Game.”
But he really scored on TV, where, after the brief NBC Western series “Nichols” in 1971, he hit paydirt with comedic detective skein “The Rockford Files,” which ran from 1974-80 and won him an Emmy in 1977 and another four nominations.
Huggins teamed with Stephen J. Cannell for the detective series recycling many of the plots from “Maverick.” Many of Garner’s friends had recurring roles in the series, including Joe Santos and Stuart Margolin as his buddies. Margolin said at the time that Garner worked long shifts, did his own stunts and stayed to do off-camera lines for the other cast members. But his old injuries and pay disputes led Garner to call it quits even though the show drew high ratings on NBC.
He again essayed “Bret Maverick” for one season in 1981. But a bad back, lawsuits with MCA TV over “Rockford” syndication payments (he eventually settled, reportedly for several million dollars) and, eventually, heart surgery curtailed his ability to endure the rigors of a TV series.
He reteamed with Andrews in the Blake Edwards musical “Victor/Victoria” in 1982, and he landed a plum role opposite Sally Field in the comedy/romance “Murphy’s Romance” in 1985. He essayed an older Wyatt Earp in Edwards’ “Sunset” opposite Bruce Willis as Tom Mix and did the underwhelming “Fire in the Sky” in 1983. In 1994 he took a small role in the bigscreen version of “Maverick,” with Mel Gibson in the lead, giving the star a run for his money in the likability department.
In 1996 he starred as an ex-president opposite Jack Lemmon in “My Fellow Americans.” The best of his later work, however, came in television in such TV movie dramas as “Heartsounds” with Mary Tyler Moore in 1984, directed by Glen Jordan, who also guided him through “Promise” in 1986. In 1989 he was acclaimed for “My Name Is Bill W.” with James Woods. In the 1992 HBO film “Barbarians at the Gate,” the actor offered up a standout chewy performance. Quieter, but no less effective, was “Breathing Lessons” opposite Joanne Woodward.
His bigscreen career continued in the 2000s with the Clint Eastwood-helmed veteran astronaut comedy “Space Cowboys,” chick pic “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” and 2004 hit tearjerker “The Notebook,” in which Garner and Gena Rowlands played the older versions of a couple portrayed by Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams.
On the smallscreen, Garner recurred on the ABC comedy “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Daughter” from 2003-05. He also voiced God for the short-lived NBC series “God, the Devil and Bob,” played the chief justice in CBS’ Supreme Court drama “First Monday” and portrayed Mark Twain in a 2002 Hallmark adaptation of Twain’s novel “Roughing It.”
Born James Bumgarner in Norman, Okla., he left high school to become a merchant seaman before moving to Los Angeles, enrolling at Hollywood High and then returning to Norman, where he joined the Oklahoma State National Guard.
He briefly went to work in his father’s carpeting business in Los Angeles until being called for duty in the Korean War. He served more than a year in the Korean peninsula and was awarded the Purple Heart before his discharge in 1952. He studied business administration at the U. of Oklahoma but left after a semester, ready to move towards acting.
Garner starred with Mariette Hartley in a series of noted commercials for Polaroid in the 1970s.
He won the Screen Actors Guild’s Life Achievement Award in 2005.
Garner is survived by his wife, the former Lois Clarke, to whom he was married since 1956; daughter Greta “Gigi” Garner; and an adopted daughter, Kimberly, from Clarke’s first marriage.
To watch some clips fom 8 Simple Rules go to http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=eight+simple+rules+
For a Website dedicated to 8 Simple Rules go to https://web.archive.org/web/20070205051930/http://8simplerules.tvheaven.com/
For Tim's TV Showcase go to https://web.archive.org/web/20130406174114/http://www.timstvshowcase.com/8simplerules.html
On January 17, 2004 the cast appeared on The Larry King Show. To read a transcript of that show go to http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0401/17/lkl.00.html
For some 8 Simple Rules-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to https://interviews.televisionacademy.com/shows/8-simple-rules-dating-my-teenage-daughter
For 2 Reviews of 8 Simple Rules go to http://www.entertainyourbrain.com/8simplerulesrev.htm and http://www.commonsensemedia.org/tv-reviews/8-Simple-Rules.html
� Date: Fri April 7, 2017 � Filesize: 45.8kb, 274.4kb � Dimensions: 1521 x 1000 �
Keywords: John Ritter, Katey Sagal,Kaley Cuoco & Amy Davidson