John Ritter, whose portrayal of the bumbling but lovable Jack Tripper helped make the madcap comedy series "Three's Company" a smash hit in the 1970s, has died, his publicist and longtime assistant said Friday. He was 54.
Ritter fell ill Thursday on the set of his ABC sitcom "8 Simple Rules ... For Dating My Teenage Daughter," said Susan Wilcox, his assistant of 22 years.
The cause of death was a dissection of the aorta, the result of an unrecognized flaw in his heart, said his publicist, Lisa Kasteler.
Ritter died at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center shortly after 10 p.m. Thursday.
Ritter, a Southern California native who lived in Beverly Hills, came to prominence for his role in "Three's Company" and had appeared in more than 25 television movies and a number of films.