Kaley Cuoco shares John Ritter's advice that's stayed 'with me for 20 years'

Kaley Cuoco at An Evening from the Heart annual gala to benefit The John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health held at Sunset Room on May 9, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Mike Tran/Variety via Getty Images)

Kaley Cuoco paid tribute to the life and legacy of her late "8 Simple Rules" co-star John Ritter.

On Thursday, the 38-year-old actress, who starred alongside Ritter in the sitcom from 2002 to 2003, spoke warmly of the actor at An Evening From The Heart, a gala that benefited the John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health. Ritter died in 2003 at the age of 54 from an undetected thoracic aortic dissection.

"He was very special to me," the "Big Bang Theory" star told Access Hollywood at Los Angeles' Sunset Room Hollywood.

"He was also very special to a lot of people," Cuoco added. "He left quite a legacy, not only as an incredible actor but as an incredible human.


"When you think about it, I spent a year and a half with him only, and the way he touched my life has far exceeded that one and a half years," she said of Ritter, who played her father in the TV show.

"So, I will always do anything that has his name attached to it, and especially to raise awareness regarding what happened to him and how awful it can be for some of these families. I will always be the voice for this exact thing."

The John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health works to raise awareness of thoracic aortic disease through research, education and advocacy.

Cuoco also shared words of advice Ritter gave her that she has taken to heart the past two decades.

"I remember when I would mess up in front of the audience, he’d go, ‘They love it! They love it! They love when you mess up.’ And I go, ‘What?’ He’d go, ‘Sometimes, I do it on purpose,'" "The Flight Attendant" star told Access Hollywood. 

"I started watching him purposefully mess up and make these mistakes, and the audience would go crazy," she added.

"I’ve literally taken that with me for 20 years," Cuoco said. "He gave everyone what they wanted. He was the class clown. He never took himself too seriously, and I think we need to get a little bit back to that, not taking ourselves too seriously."


FILE - 8 SIMPLE RULES (FOR DATING MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER) - "Cheerleader"(Photo by Gale M. Adler/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images)


The sitcom "8 Simple Rules" starred Ritter as the Hennessey family patriarch Paul Hennessey, Katey Sagal as his wife Cate, Cuoco as their daughter Bridget, Amy Davidson as Bridget's sister Kerry and Martin Spanjers as her brother Rory.

Ritter died unexpectedly as the series was filming its second season, and "8 Simple Rules" was brought back after a hiatus with Paul's death written into the show. The sitcom was renewed for a third season, from 2004 until 2005.

In an interview with People magazine, Cuoco noted that Ritter "touched a lot of lives." She told the outlet she shares a close relationship with Ritter's family, including his widow Amy Yasbeck and four children.

Ritter shared sons Jason and Tyler, along with daughter Carly, with his first wife, Nancy Morgan. The two were married from 1977 to 1996.

He additionally has a son, Noah, with Yasbeck. The two tied the knot in 1999 and were married until his death.

The Emmy Award nominee praised Ritter's family, who she told People have "worked very hard" to raise awareness of thoracic aortic disease.

"I will do anything for his wife and his kids," Cuoco said. "And I'm so really very proud to be here and honoring him."

Amy and Tyler attended the gala, which was co-chaired and co-hosted by Cuoco. Ritter's former "Three's Company" co-stars Joyce DeWitt and Priscilla Barnes were also in attendance and hugged as they reunited on the red carpet.

Ritter rose to fame playing Jack Tripper, a culinary school student who moves in with two female roommates, Janet Wood (DeWitt) and Chrissy Snow (Suzanne Somers) and pretends to be gay so their landlord will allow him to stay.

"Three's Company" ran for eight seasons on ABC from 1977 to 1984. Somers left the sitcom during its fifth season, while Ritter and DeWitt remained on the show for its entire run. Barnes joined the cast in its sixth season, playing nurse Terri Alden, who becomes Jack and Janet's new roommate after Chrissy moved out.

The gala was also attended by Cary Elwes, Cheri Oteri, Holly Robinson Peete, Katherine Kelly Lang, Heather Tom and Ashley Jones.

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