Ratings Bonanza for Ritter TV Tribute
The robust ratings for the one-hour "John Ritter: Life of Laughter" portend possibly good news for the future of "8 Simple Rules," which will return as planned with its Sept. 23 season premiere, followed by two other episodes completed before Ritter's death, reports Reuters.
The network will then air reruns until new episodes are filmed that will incorporate the sudden death of Ritter's family-man character into the plot.
Ritter, 54, died last Thursday of a torn aorta, a previously undetected heart ailment, after he collapsed on the set while filming the fourth episode of the show's upcoming second season.
In the new issue of PEOPLE that hits newsstands Friday, a tribute to Ritter features the details of his final hours.
After working out with a trainer at the gym, the man still best known as "Three's Company"'s Jack Tripper arrived on the Disney lot at 11:30 a.m. last Thursday, the magazine reports.
Bumping into Howard Alonzo, an actor appearing on "8 Simple Rules," Ritter impulsively gave him a bear hug and told him it was his daughter Stella's 5th birthday. (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 star's heart would cease beating by the end of the day, says the magazine.