John Ritter was probably best known for his role as Jack Tripper on "Three's Company," a show which I enjoyed as a child in the 1970's. (That's probably the correct mental level for it.) But that's not why Ritter's death has hit me so hard.
Back in 1990, Ritter played L. Frank Baum in a TV-movie called "The Dreamer of Oz," all about Baum and his lifetime struggles, and how he finally found success with the Oz books. Ritter's portrayal was perfect; he played Baum with the gentleness that Baum was known for. The movie isn't available on VHS or DVD, which is a damn shame; although I do have a copy taped off the TV broadcast.
I had always meant to write Ritter a fan letter, to let him know how this one particular role of his had moved me. For some reason, I always thought he might appreciate knowing that this particular performance of his was so effective. But I never got around to writing the letter -- wouldn't even know where to send it -- and now it's too late.
Ironically, Baum suffered with a heart condition all his life; and it looks as Ritter had an undiagnosed heart problem that led to his death. I hope it was quick and painless for him.@