John Ritter's dad rejected his acting until he took this ''respectable'' role on The Waltons

Country singer Tex Ritter just didn't see acting as something any man should do with his life.

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Country Music Hall of Famer Tex Ritter performed his Oscar-winning song that he wrote specifically for the movie High Noon at the very first televised Academy Awards ceremony in 1953.

It was undoubtedly a high point in his career, but if you asked the man what he thought about actors like High Noon star Gary Cooper, the country singer would tell you that seeing any man choose to be acting was some pretty silly stuff.

As his son, actor John Ritter, told The Ottawa Journal in 1980, his dad was the kind of guy who thought acting was "not something a man should do with his life."

That, of course, was a problem for John, who startled Tex when in college he abruptly switched his psychology major to acting in 1968.

Tex didn't understand why John didn't want a respectable career like his brother, who'd become a successful lawyer. John saw acting as respectable, but he didn't have the guts to tell his dad that. Of course, Tex was being rather hypocritical, considering he had appeared in more than 70 movies, mostly Westerns, mostly in the 1930s and 1940s. John stuck up for his decision.

"I knew already what acting could be," John said. "It was the second oldest profession in the world. It's a celebration of the human spirit. It's an invisible golden thread of humanity."

For the next six years, John pushed his dad's feelings aside and refined his acting skills without his dad's approval, first on stages in Southern California, and then in bit TV and movie roles starting in 1970 and including appearances on hugely popular shows like M*A*S*H.

At that time, Tex's health started declining and in 1974, John went to see his dad before his 69th birthday. Soon after, Tex would have a heart attack and die suddenly (believed to have the same condition that later also led to John's untimely death), but not before this long-overdue talk with his youngest son.

"Before he died, I did tell him I can't really do anything else but act," Ritter said.

Fortunately, by then, Tex was willing to look at his son's acting career a little differently. During that visit, what really helped his dad see that "little golden thread of humanity" in his acting was all because of John's first recurring TV role — playing a preacher on The Waltons.

In The Ottawa Journal article, Ritter said Tex may not have thought of acting as a respectable career, but at least John's role on The Waltons was respectable.

John said Tex was reluctant to come around, but ultimately, John was delighted nonetheless to finally have his father express approval for his way of life.

In 1980, John would get to learn what it was like to be a parent wanting to control the world his kid lives in. That's when he and his wife, actor Nancy Morgan, welcomed the first of their three kids. Just before the baby came, John vowed to be a nurturing dad.

"We're going to be in a special room in the hospital where we can play some soft music and have dim lights and a warm bath for the baby to be put in, and I'll be right there with my wife, giving her all the support and love I can," Ritter said. Of course, Jason Ritter grew up to be an actor, just like dad.

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JuliaWilliams 38 months ago
If my memory serves me, and it serves me, Tex Ritter did NOT write the 'High Noon' theme song; it was written by Ned Washington and Dimitri Tiomkin.
boothjp21 38 months ago
Let's not forget his excellent role in Sling Blade
Dave 38 months ago
I wish I had John Ritter's courage. My parents were immigrants and didn't see acting as a respectable career. They thought it was a profession for sissies and homosexuals. So, I pursued several other careers, all ending in failure until I got into retail sales. I was able to "act" in that capacity. Also, I ended up getting involved in community theatre and also some low budget film roles. So, to echo Harry Chapin "I was gonna learn to fly, and me, I'm flying in my taxi...".
Puragess62 38 months ago
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JeffPaul76 38 months ago
That's too bad that Tex Ritter was such a hypocrite about John's choice of acting career when he was an actor himself. I forget, hold was John when he died? I remember him in I think what was his final role as the Star of 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, which costarred Kaley Cuoco as said Daughter, and was later shortened to 8 Simple Rules. And then after it was canceled, She , Kaley went on to be a co-star of the final season of the Original Charmed.
jimmyvici 39 months ago
I love John Ritter. He never got enough credit for his movie Hero at Large. Good movie. His skit on Conan O’Brien called Ritter Secrets is hilarious. YouTube it. Very funny. Worth the watch. Amongst the other big name celebrities that contributed to the “secrets” bit.
Andybandit 39 months ago
John Ritter went on the be a good actor. Really good in Three's Company, and other show. His son Jason Ritter is a good actor too.
Krn 39 months ago
Probably a good thing his father wasn’t around to see Three’s Company! I love the early seasons but the subject matter would probably have killed his father.
Michael 39 months ago
He was in an awful lot, not just tv shows but movies (Disney's "The Barefoot Executive") before The Waltons. He even played a "hippie" thief on "Hawaii Five-O" in 1971. Which makes me think his father's objection wasn't to material, but a reliable job.

Even then, The Walton's wasn't steady work, 18 episodes in four years, 8 in his last year (though those 8 were after he married the school marm). How much did we notice him on The Walton's before Three's Company made him famous? I thought there was overlap, but no, so I think we noticed him in the reruns.

And Three's Company really made him famous, and I assume paid better.

John Boy was upset that Miss Hunter was interested in the Reverend.

And John Ritter's second wife was Amy Yasbeck.
Moverfan Michael 39 months ago
Did he have a supporting role in The Barefoot Executive or did they remake it? I saw it when I was a kid in the late sixties/early seventies and it starred Kurt Russell and a chimp (and the chimp had the title role).
Michael Moverfan 38 months ago
Yes, the 1971 version. I can't place him, but I have on dvd "The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes" and "Now You See him, now You Don't" and it's interesting to see some of "the gang", who later became better known. Ed Begley, jr and Mike Evans.

I watched those remade for tv Disney movies from 1995. And I couldn't see the point. The originals in part were interesting because we saw them when new. They felt a need to update them, but were they successful?

They even did "The Absent Minded Professor" with Harry Anderson in 1989, and "Flubber" Robin Williams in 1997.
EricFuller Michael 38 months ago
I remember seeing John playing a cop in the Charles Bronson movie "The Stone Killer."
Wiseguy Michael 38 months ago
Did you notice The Waltons doesn't have an apostrophe?
And it's Hawaii Five-0 with a zero. Hawaii Five-O doesn't make sense.
Mirramanee 39 months ago
I always liked John Ritter (though I was never a fan of Three's Company). I first really came to notice him when he played Reverend Fordwick in The Waltons and later he played alongside Alfre Woodard as a Vietnam veteran suffering from the aftereffects of chemical agents used during the war. It was called Unnatural Causes. I enjoyed his performance in that TV movie very much. I think I actually liked when he played more serious roles rather than the comedic ones. In any case, he sadly died too young.
OldTVfanatic Mirramanee 39 months ago
He was excellent in the original 1990 miniseries version of Stephen King’s It.
WordsmithWorks 39 months ago
(A)cting was "not something a man should do with his life." Talk about irony, considering Ol' Tex was (in my opinion) equally as know for his "Singing Cowboy" movies as his "Singing Cowboy" music.
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