Old School Americana & Nostalgia


Henry Winkler Recalls His Final Conversation with Friend John Ritter

Henry Winkler Recalls His Final Conversation with Friend John Ritter

It’s not too hard to imagine that John Ritter and Henry Winkler, two big stars in the 1970s, would become friends. Of course, Ritter starred in Three’s Company. Winkler starred in Happy Days. Their friendship was so deep that Ritter asked Winkler to guest star on Ritter’s show, 8 Simple Rules For Dating My Daughter.

Winkler’s day on that set, though, was anything but fun.

The “Fonzie” actor showed up and did his best to work on it. Sadly, it took place on the day of one of the most horrid deaths in show business history. Ritter died in September 2003 from an aortic dissection. He was 54.

Winkler spoke about his final conversation with John Ritter. It happened on the TV Showset. of 8 Simple Rules

We were reminiscing,” Winkler recalled. After each man shared a brief chat, Winkler did the last time they both saw one another.

John Ritter Sitcom People Tell Others They Can Go Home

Cast members could go home, Winkler said. It took some time after he spoke with John Ritter. Nobody receives word on why they were told the day was cut short. Winkler said he believed John Ritter decided to go home early to celebrate the birthday of one of his children, who was turning five.

“At 9 at night, I was called and told he was in the hospital,” Winkler said. “And at 11 or 11:30 I was called to say, ‘We have lost John (Ritter),’” Winkler said.

Back in 2003, Benson directed an episode of 8 Simple Rules. It was around the same time that Winkler was due to film his guest spot. Benson came up with an idea for a scene that would highlight Ritter’s gift for physical comedy.

Robby Benson Notices Ritter Having Trouble Breathing

However, as Benson would reveal on Oprah: Where Are They Now, Benson noticed Ritter was having a difficult time performing the scene, according to The Things.

“So I said, ‘What if you run up the stairs, run across the bedroom, hop over the bed, and go to the window upstairs,’” Benson recalled. “And as we were doing it, his breathing became heavier and heavier and I really didn’t want to embarrass him by saying anything, but I didn’t want him to do it again.”

He continued, “And so, I said, ‘You know what? Let’s figure out a different way.’ And he said, ‘Okay thanks.’ And I gave him a hug and we walked down the flight of stairs together and we ended up knocking off that shot.”

That scene was cut. Benson was due back on the set in the following days. However, he soon heard some unexpected news.

“I was booked to finish that show on that Friday night,” Benson said. It was about three or four in the morning and I was staying at my best friend’s house. “He said, ‘John Ritter just died’ and I couldn’t believe it and I asked him, ‘What happened?’ And he said, ‘Well, something happened with his heart.’”