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“If I hadn’t had resolution with John, this day would be unbearable,” says Somers.“I’ve cried all morning.” There was both laughter and tears at an impromptu memorial Sept.“She has to be there for Stella.” The death devastated many in Hollywood, where Ritter’s wide-ranging career in comedy and drama had included sitcoms, a detective series ( (1992-95), “it was like a kick in the gut.” By all accounts, Ritter had been one of the most personable, easygoing stars around – thanks, perhaps, to the fact that he himself was the son of two modest, down-home stars: Tex Ritter, a B-Western personality and country singer who died of a heart attack in 1974 at age 68, and his wife, former actress Dorothy Fay, now 88, who became a fixture at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry as its official greeter. “The phone rang and it was John, and he goes, ‘Baby, I’ve got two dinners and four parties I’ve got to go to. I’m picking you up at .’ It was like when we were kids together.” Suzanne Somers, 56, who left the series in a very public 1981 dustup because of her salary demands, last caught up with Ritter by phone a few months ago.Ritter was the sort of guy who asked crew to wear name tags so he could get to know them; gave daughter Kaley Cuoco fatherly advice on how to dress modestly (“Missy, you need to go change,” he told her when she showed up for work in a tank top); and raised millions for cerebral palsy research, a cause he was dedicated to for the sake of his sole sibling, Tom Ritter, 56, a lawyer, who was born with the condition. Alienated from each other, they hadn’t become friendly again until a full decade later (Amy engineered a reconciliation after running into Somers at a premiere party in 1995).Like ’s rogue’s gallery of non-Griffin characters is also strong, from Glenn Quagmire (Mac Farlane, once more), Peter’s endlessly horny friend, to wheelchair-stricken Joe Swanson (Patrick Warburton), Peter’s other best bud. Bumping into Howard Alonzo, an actor appearing on the show, Ritter impulsively gave him a bear hug and told him it was his daughter Stella’s 5th birthday.
“Even then,” says Widdoes, “I thought, ‘Well, like so many of us in our 50s, we have to face it, fix it, change our lifestyle and move forward.’ ” But for Ritter it was already too late: Doctors would detect a tear in his heart’s main artery – a rare, often fatal, always tough-to-diagnose condition called aortic dissection.
(It was also her first week at preschool, and the actor was getting a kick out of being her personal chauffeur.) “He was in a great mood,” says Alonzo.
No one would have dreamed that the 54-year-old star’s heart would cease beating by the end of the day.
When he doesn’t have the money to pay, he decides to sell Meg to the Goldmans.
Neil is dating another girl which makes Meg jealous, and Stewie falls in love with Liddane, his new babysitter.