A LETTER OF TRIBUTE TO JOHN RITTER

As outlined in "Given a Chance...a little girl's journey" John Ritter played an important role in Kassie's life. Their first face to face meeting was during the 1989 United Cerebral Palsy telethon. Their last meeting was on the set of "Eight Simple Rules..." during the taping of one of John's final episodes." John's death had a tremendous impact on people everywhere. The following is a beautiful example of what 'John Ritter' meant to those who came in contact with him.

From Love & Laughter From Me To You One Last Time: John Ritter Remembered.

By Dawn Grabowski

       In many ways this article is the most important I have ever written it is without a doubt the most difficult.  How does one pay appropriate tribute to a man that has touched so many people‚ lives for so many years?  He has been described as an Emmy, Golden Globe & People‚ Choice, Award -Winning Actor.  True.  He has also been described as a Physical-Comedy Genius, as an actor that changed the face of the television sitcom, a talented dramatic actor, and a humanitarian.  All true.   I speak, of course, of John Ritter.

      John Ritter passed away on September 11, 2003 of a tear in his aorta.  His shocking and his untimely death have forced the entertainment industry to reflect on what a brilliant talent we had lost.  His career had spanned more than twenty-five years.  His accomplishments are great,  just talking about his Television highlights from his start on the ‚Waltons‚ to his big break in 1977‚ Three’s Company to Three’s A Crowd to Hooperman to, Hearts of Fire, to The Voice of Clifford the Dog, to his most recent television success ‚ Simple Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter.  I can speak of the 25 television movies he starred in over the years. I can speak of his recent success in the world of independent films with such films as: Slingblade, Tadpole  &  Manhood.  All this information is accurate, but honestly you can receive this information off any entertainment database.  These are not the things that made John Ritter unique.  I would like to share with you the John Ritter I loved, the John Ritter I knew.

     I first became aware of Mr. Ritter through my television screen, like many people.  As a small child I became aware of a little show called Three’s Company.   For that half hour that I tuned in every Tuesday night, I could forget my trouble from my school day.  (Yes, I know I am dating myself. A big mistake in Hollywood but he is worth it...) anyway, he could make me laugh like no one else.  Being a person with a disability, (I have Cerebral Palsy), life has been difficult, especially childhood.  Watching John fall down as the loveable yet bumbling Jack Tripper on Three's Company‚ was magic.  It was the first time that I could watch someone else fall down and laugh at them instead of having everyone laugh at me (like at school).  As someone who fell and still falls a lot, I can say it hurts and it is hard work.  John made falling down, and being clumsy look effortless.   (I am sure there were many bumps and bruises along the way to make television viewers laugh).

I became aware of ‚Three's Company‚ not thru the normal chain of events.  I did not come across it flipping the channels.  No, I became aware of that television show thru a charity event called the United Cerebral Palsy Telethon (UCP).  For many years John was The National Chairman of this organization. John Ritter was a man that was always giving back to worthy causes.  He was always grateful for his success and he used his celebrity status for good, another rare trait in Hollywood.  U.C.P. was a charity close to John‚ heart because his brother, like myself, has this same Central -Nervous System Disorder.  It was only after this chain of events that I truly became aware of John Ritter, and his famous father Tex Ritter.

Like millions before me I became an immediate fan of Three's Company, and Mr. Ritter.  I instantly fell in love with the man with the boyish charm.  He was for all intensive purposes my first love. From the beginning, I watched every project he was in and became his number one fan only to be rivaled by his immediate family I am sure.

He is the main reason I became interested in the Arts, continued my education in college, (graduating with a B.A. in Theatre), and eventually working in this Industry as an actress, filmmaker, and Stand-Up Comic among other ventures.

    Upon arriving in California in 1994, I started to investigate the craft I loved so much up close and personally.  One of the things I did was to attend tapings of Hearts Of Fire. The exhilaration I felt being on the same Sound Stage as my childhood idol was incredible.  I felt as though I was going to burst with excitement.  To watch John work was poetry in motion. A constant professional, but always able to lighten the mood for a fellow cast mate, or make an audience roar with laughter when the action waned.  He would do anything to make a person laugh.  I went to several tapings of‚ Hearts of Fire.

First I received an autograph from him given to me by a crewmember.  Then on March 18,1994, I met the man that up until this point I had loved only thru the television, and/or movie screen.  Even on a busy sound stage when John looked at me, he made me feel like I was the only person in the room. He made me feel special.  Gracious to a fault, posing for a picture with me and hugging me as I said,  I have respected, admired and loved your work for as long as I can remember, you helped me get thru some very difficult times, and you and your family will always have a little piece of my heart- I love you very much.

      Over the last nine years as my career steadily progressed, I would periodically run into John.  He always made it a point to take time to give me a little hug, a small kiss on the facial cheek as he asked how things were going.  Hey sweetie, how are you‚would be his typical greeting.  But there really was nothing typical about this man.  What would be our last encounter occurred in January of this year at The Sundance film Festival.  At The Premiere of his movie Manhood, amongst paparazzi and fans he made a point to come over and talk to me a fellow colleague to find out of my latest career success.

    In a town where smoke and mirrors seemed to be the order of everyday, John was the real deal.  I have never heard a negative word uttered about him. He was a man that loved his job, and he knew how lucky he was to have it.  From fan to colleague to mentor and friend John was a constant in my life.  I used to tell people I have loved John Ritter ever since I could breathe. I also used to say how do you thank someone who has always been there for you? Now, I think how do I properly say good-bye?  Like I have heard many express, I wish I could have just one more meeting.  But some things are not meant to be.

I will never have the pleasure to work with him, and he will never give me roses. I had more opportunities than most, and for that I am grateful.  These were some of my childhood dreams.  (Some of the dreams that were on my once before I die list-my goals for my life).  As I think of this funny, loving, warm, talented, and generous man I fall out of my chair laughing uncontrollably.  He has entertained me for so long, I figured it is the least I could do. I think that is what he would have wanted. I smile when I think of the man.  I smile when I think of his body of work.  This world needs laughter, love, and talent more than ever.  You were taken way too soon Mr. Ritter but I hope you can hear the well-deserved applause, and standing ovation one more time.  Thank you for your love, laughter, and sharing your talents with the world.  Good-bye my friend.  I love you.