Kaley Cuoco is paying tribute to former TV dad John Ritter on the 17th anniversary of his death.
“Can’t believe you have been gone 17 years,” the actress wrote about her 8 Simple Rules co-star. “Thank you for continuing to make me laugh every single day.”
The black-and-white photo she posted shows them with their faces pressed against each other. Ritter, perhaps best known for playing Jack Tripper on TV’s Three’s Company, has a big smile as does Cuoco, who’s also making a silly face.
Ritter died on Sept. 11, 2003, from an undiagnosed aortic dissection after experiencing chest pains on the set of 8 Simple Rules. While he went to the hospital, he was initially misdiagnosed as having a heart attack, so his condition worsened, leading to his death. He was just 54.
8 Simple Rules, which helped propel Cuoco to stardom, was three episodes into its second season when Ritter died. His death was incorporated into the show — also starring Katey Sagal — which aired until 2005.
Fellow cast members Amy Davidson and Martin Spanjers also shared tributes, calling attention to Aortic Dissection Awareness Week, which is Sept. 19 to 26:
Earlier this year, Cuoco spoke with Yahoo Entertainment about Ritter and 8 Simple Rules, saying, “With John passing away, that changed the whole course of that show. I truly believe if John had still been around, we probably would have gone on for a long time.”
She added, “It was a great family show, and he made this unreal TV comeback. Even though I only spent a year with him, that changed the course of my personal life and my career. I knew I wanted to make people laugh forever after working with John. That year really changed me in every way.”
In the 2018 Reelz documentary John Ritter: Behind Closed Doors, Cuoco got tearful talking about her last moment with Ritter. She said after telling the cast and crew that he was feeling sick and headed home early to get rest, he stopped by her dressing room.
“He sat down on the couch and he goes, ‘I love you,’” the Big Bang Theory alum recalled, “and I was like, ‘I love you too, silly man,’ and he goes ‘No, I want you to know, I love you.’ And I said, ‘I love you too,’ and then he goes, ‘That's it,’ and he gave me a hug and that's the last time I saw him.”
She added, "To this day, if anyone asks me [about] John Ritter, I get this chill because I love him so much.”
Ritter was married to his Problem Child co-star Amy Yasbeck, with whom he shared a child Noah Ritter, and had three children with his first wife, Nancy: actors Jason Ritter, Tyler Ritter and Carly Ritter.
The John Ritter Foundation, helmed by Yasbeck, will be holding a free virtual conference for Aortic Dissection Awareness Week. Register here.