One of the most popular TV stars of the late-1970s, John Ritter enjoyed a diverse career right up until his tragic death in 2003. The son of famed country-western star Tex Ritter, he first emerged with dozens of small television guest spots, including a recurring role as the serious-minded Reverend Fordwick on "The Waltons" (CBS, 1971-1981). Ritter rose to fame on the small screen as the irascible, klutzy Jack Tripper on the hit sitcom "Three's Company" (ABC, 1977-1984), where his boyish charm and affinity for physical comedy made him an audience favorite. Efforts to transition to leading man status in such feature films as Peter Bogdanovich's romance "They All Laughed" (1981) and Blake Edwards' sex-comedy "Skin Deep" (1989) met with little interest, although the failure spoke more to the substandard material than to Ritter's abilities. While television projects like "Hooperman" (ABC, 1987-89) and "Hearts Afire" (CBS, 1992-95) provided moderate success, it was Ritter's transformative performance in close friend Billy Bob Thornton's drama "Sling Blade" (1996) that garnered the actor a level of professional respect he had not previously enjoyed. With his career invigorated, Ritter moved on to a slew of supporting film roles and TV guest appearances until the family sitcom "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter" (ABC, 2002-05) once again provided him a showcase for his inimitable comedic skills. Although his untimely death cut short his still vibrant life and career, the beloved actor lived on in the memories of the friends, family and the audiences he entertained for decades.