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John Ritter Left 'Food Poisoning' Message Hours Before Death

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Feb 29, 2008 | 9:32am EST

Tragic actor John Ritter feared he had fallen victim to a serious bout of food poisoning on the day he died, according to a phone message that was played at his wrongful death trial in California.

As part of his widow Amy Yasbeck's testimony on Friday, Ritter was heard warning his wife that he was feeling unwell in a message he left just before he was taken to hospital from the set of sitcom 8 Simple Rules... For Dating My Teenage Daughter.

In the message, Ritter said, "Hi honey, this is John. I'm in my dressing room and not feeling very well. I think I have food poisoning. They're going to call a doctor to look at me."

A tearful Yasbeck told the court Ritter called back, and warned her he'd probably have to miss an event at his daughter's school that evening--because his condition had taken a turn for the worse.

She added, "He called back and said, 'Now I'm having chest pains and the nurse is coming and they're going to take me across the street.'"

Actress Yasbeck--who wed Ritter in 1999, ten years after working with him on comedy movie Problem Child--also told the jury her husband worked hard at staying in shape: "It came up all the time. He always wanted to lose weight. He worked out a lot."

Ritter's widow and his eldest children are suing two doctors for $67 million for misdiagnosing the torn aorta that killed the comic actor in September 2003, at the age of 54. 

Yasbeck is expected to resume her testimony on Monday. The trial continues.

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