John Ritter was the opposite of his Waltons character on set

Judy Norton liked the actor playing Matthew Fordwick so much pretending to be scared of the stern reverend took a lot of acting.

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Many actors, especially early in their careers, do their best work when playing characters with personalities similar to their own. When a performer can put huge parts of themselves into a character, it always makes things more believable and fun for the audience.

Will Geer, for example, essentially was Grandpa Walton. His playful personality, his affection for the cast and even his love of plants were all ways actor and character blended together.

But sometimes, particularly when it comes to characters who aren’t very nice, the person behind the scenes is very different from the one on camera. And speaking of The Waltons, the show’s first preacher, Matthew Fordwick, was one of those characters played by an actor with a totally opposite personality.

A young actor named John Ritter was cast as Reverend Fordwick. Of course, he went on to TV stardom in Three’s Company and other favorites, but The Waltons gave Ritter his first major recurring role on television, something Earl Hamner Jr. was very proud of.

Reverend Fordwick is introduced in the episode "The Sinner" as a devout student of God fresh out of school. He comes to Walton’s Mountain ready to whip the congregation into shape and cast out any sin, but a taste of the Baldwin sisters’ family recipe puts his plans in jeopardy.

In one scene, before the good preacher samples some authentic Appalachian moonshine, Reverend Fordwick scolds Mary Ellen for cursing. Judy Norton, who played the oldest Walton daughter for all nine seasons, remembers really having to act intimidated by Fordwick because she liked John Ritter so much off camera.

In a YouTube video as part of her series revealing behind-the-scenes memories from the show, Norton recalled John Ritter as a "fun-loving" and "lovely person." She continued, "He is incredibly believable as this intense and earnest young reverend in training and when he goes off on us, we’re supposed to be a little intimidated by it." She noted that it was important to be in character during this scene so her personal feelings about John wouldn’t show.

"To me, that was personally definitely acting because knowing John, I was not intimidated or scared by him as a person." She had to say to herself, "Okay, as a character, I’m intimidated."

Norton also remembered that John Ritter and John-Boy actor Richard Thomas were "two peas in a pod" joking together and pulling pranks on set. Ritter got to bring more of his delightful nature and comedic abilities toward the end of his first episode (after his visit to the Baldwin sisters) and Reverend Fordwick had a more relaxed approach in future episodes.

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eddiecantorfan 23 months ago
Did Richie Cunningham go
Bananas and fire 🔥 drummer
BAG for playing too many Demons Practical Jokes and
Fire Sticks Downey Jr and
Daphne from The Happy Days
Band and the only reason that
Richie hired Chachi Arcola to
Play the Drums in the band
is because Spike Fonzarelli and
Chuck Cunningham weren't
eddiecantorfan 23 months ago
Happy 😁😁 Days Question
For Happy Days Viewers:
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MOOSE (Barry Greenberg)
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Melvin Belvin (Scott Bernstein)
Howard Cunningham (Tom Bosley)??
eddiecantorfan 23 months ago
Practical Jokers:
BAG Zombroski on
Happy 😁😊 Days
Bag(Neil J Schwartz )
Ralph Malph Donny Most
eddiecantorfan 23 months ago
Video of BAG Zombroski
the Practical Joker on Happy Days .
Best of Bag Zombroski season one of Happy Days
You Tube Video.
eddiecantorfan 23 months ago
Survey Question:
1 Bag Zombroski (Neil J Schwartz)
2 Ralph Malph (Donny Most)??
Happy Days Survey Question:
Happy Days:
1 Chuck Cunningham 1 Gavan O'HERLIHY
2 Chuck Cunningham 2 Randolph Roberts
3 Roger Phillips Ted McGinley
Milwaukee Rumor:
Was also a Practical Joker on Happy Days.
Bobby Melner is the Practical Joker who tricked
Roger Phillips (Ted McGinley) into throwing away Fonzie's possessions
From Fonzie's 🏫 locker by
Telling Roger Phillips that
Fonzie moved to Italy and for Roger to throw Fonzie's
Locker possessions in the
trash and Roger beleived
Bobby with Eugene Belvin (Denis Mandel) laughing
At Bobby's Practical Joke.
eddiecantorfan 23 months ago
Fun Girls on Sitcoms:
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Lou Ann Poovie
Angela Brown
Thaila Menniger
Phoebe Smith
Mary Simpson
Jill Higgins
Chris Carmichael
Jenny Piccalo
Susie Sacks(Marion Marsh
Thaila Menniger
Victoria Winters
Skippy & Daphne
Also Laverne and Shirley
Are the Fun Girls of
Honorable Mention For A
Funny Cop on TV shows:
Marshall Gilligan -
Gilligan's Island
Funny 😁😁 Cop in movie:
Officer Krumkie -
West Side Story
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On TV Sitcoms?:
Officer Kirk Happy Days
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Murray on The Odd Couple
Smitty and Hoppy Sanford and Son
Barney Fife TAGS
Andy Taylor TAGS
Warren Ferguson TAGS
Wojo Barney Miller
Detective Bill Brennan on
My Favorite Martian
Marshall Gilligan
Fish -Barney Miller
Chano Barney Miller
Nick Yemana-Barney Miller
Detective Ron Harris -
Barney Miller
Goober Pyle-The Andy Griffith Show
Detective Wentworth-
Barney Miller
Inspector Lugar -Barney Miller
Officer Carl Levitt -BM
Detective Baptista -
Barney Miller
Detective Arthur Dietrich -
Barney Miller
Lt Scanlon -Barney Miller
Barney Miller HIMSELF
eddiecantorfan 23 months ago
Cpl Nick Cuccinelli (Tommy Leonetti) got on a Greyhound bus and transferred to the marine base in Phoenix Arizona.
Another Greyhound bus arrived
In Los Angeles 2 hours later and the new person Cpl Chuck Boyle Roy Stuart arrived to replace Cpl Nick Cuccinelli Tommy Leonetti
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eddiecantorfan 23 months ago
THE OFFICER KIRK COP OUT SHOW where Officer Kirk )Ed Peck) tries to
This week's episode :
Officer Kirk tries to run
Fonzie (Henry Winkler)
Out Of Town?!!!!!
eddiecantorfan 23 months ago
The Stranger In Town Spoof
Of The Andy Griffith Show
Starring THE ONE AND
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Nala92129 23 months ago
John Ritter is an acquired taste. I felt he came across as a tad smarmy, obsequious, a little like a combo Uriah Heap and a funeral director.
eddiecantorfan Nala92129 23 months ago
Threes Company is a very
funny sitcom Jack Tripper is a great TV character
John Ritter was a great actor and the WORST THING OF ALL IS THAT
3s Company Is NOT on METV but I wish that it was. Threes Company and
Green Acres are A LAUGH
MaryAnn 23 months ago
I watched that episode of The Waltons for the first time today and I thought it was great! I remember seeing John Ritter in a silly movie called Problem Child maybe 20 years ago. I watched it with my son and we laughed like crazy! 🤣
MrsPhilHarris 23 months ago
I’m probably in the minority but I can’t stand Jack Tripper nor Three’s Company for that matter. I always cringe when METV is announcing new shows that it will be included and I will accidentally hear that insipid theme song. 😆 Just my honest opinion. I know lots of you love the show.
Load previous comments
Pacificsun MrsPhilHarris 19 months ago
I agree with you, and usually do.

Three's Company was a guy's show for obvious reasons.

Nobody could possibly believe Jack Tripper was that stupid.
MrsPhilHarris Pacificsun 19 months ago
I liked the British show Man About The House which Three’s Company was based on.
Pacificsun MrsPhilHarris 19 months ago
My Aunt and Uncle loved British made shows. It they had "BritBox' in their day, they would've subscribed. I mean "Benny Hill" for example got away with a lot of stuff that wouldn't pass here, except for being so loony. Monty Python was a classic. I loved Doc Martin. And Three's Company had it's comedy-cliche and used it, no worries, made viewers smile!
MrsPhilHarris Pacificsun 19 months ago
We watched a lot of British shows when I grew up. Dave Allen, Coronation Street, No Honestly, Dr. In The House, etc. I guess that’s what was on tv here. Even the movies on tv tended to be British. We only got a few channels back then.
CoreyC 23 months ago
John Ritter and Richard Thomas later co starred in the Stephen King TV movie It.
Andybandit 23 months ago
I loved him in The Waltons, Threes company, and 8 simple rules. He was a really good actor. Those 3 shows are the only shows I know from.
Runeshaper 23 months ago
John Ritter was an AMAZING actor! Nice to hear that he was a good guy too.
Michael 23 months ago
It's been 19 years since hedied. Hard to believe.

He had quite a few rolkes, single shot, before the Waltons. Even a MASH appearance.

But in 1971, he played a hippie on Hawaii Five-O, and he kills someone. Quite a change from Rev Fordwick.

The first episode with Rev Fordwick is much different from lanter. It's like they introduce the character, and then decide he shoukd be tamed down. Actually three months elapsed between The Sinner and his next appearance. So was it a single appearance, but they brought him back?
LoveMETV22 Michael 23 months ago
Considering he appeared in 18 episodes over the course of the series, he probably wasn't an afterthought. JMO.
Michael LoveMETV22 23 months ago
I can't remember the episode enough. They tone him down enough that I wonder if it was a one-shot, but they brought him back as a regular.

Some guests reappear, but long enough later that it seems like they decided to bring them back, rather than planned from the beginning. Sometimes they even have to use another actor.

MarkSpeck Michael 23 months ago
He didn't kill anyone on Five-O. He knocked Vic Morrow out and stole his money. The only person that died in that episode O.D'ed accidentally. Morrow found that person, who obviously wasn't the guy that robbed him, and threw a gas lamp across the room, which set it on fire.

Ritter appeared on a number of crime shows. He was one of the bad guys in the final episode of Mannix. He went on trial for killing the hard-ass boss who fired him on Petrocelli. He was an armored car guard forced into helping a gang of robbers on Starsky & Hutch. He returned to Hawaii Five-O in 1977, shortly before Three's Company, as the witness to a cop killing who tries to blackmail the killer. Aside from those, all of his appearances on crime shows, he played pretty normal characters (his debut was on Dan August, and yes, he did have a scene with Norman Fell!)...but he never killed anyone.
MarkSpeck MarkSpeck 23 months ago
He wasn't the guilty party in that Petrocelli episode. Just thought I'd clarify.
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