John Ritter Died on Daughter’s 5th Birthday — He Worried He Was ‘Ruining Stella’s Birthday’

Amy Yasbeck, the wife of the late actor John Ritter, remains on a mission to prevent tragedies like her husband’s untimely death. John Ritter, known for his iconic role as Chandler Bing in Friends, passed away tragically on his daughter’s birthday, September 11, 2003.

Amy Yasbeck, Stella Ritter, and guest at the 14th Annual DesignCare event in Malibu, California on July 21, 2012 | Source: Getty Images

John’s wife, Amy, is dedicated to raising awareness about aortic dissection, the condition that led to his death. Despite the passage of 20 years since John’s passing, Amy continues to miss him deeply and has chosen not to date anyone else.

John Ritter, born in Burbank, California, on September 17, 1948, married Amy Yasbeck on September 18, 1999. Together, they have a daughter, Stella Ritter (now known as Noah Lee Ritter). John had three children from his previous marriage to Nancy Morgan: Jason Ritter, Tyler Ritter, and Carly Ritter.

John Ritter’s acting career spanned over three decades, and he achieved fame for his role in Friends. Tragically, he succumbed to undetected aortic dissection while rehearsing for “8 Simple Rules” on September 11, 2003.

John Ritter's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame memorialized with flowers and gifts by fans | Source: Getty Images

On that fateful day, John experienced severe symptoms while celebrating Stella’s fifth birthday. Rushed to the hospital, he was pronounced dead at 10:48 p.m. The unexpected loss shocked his family and the Hollywood community.

Amy Yasbeck, by John’s side during his final moments, recalled the heart-wrenching experience. John’s death, caused by aortic dissection, a tear in the largest blood vessel, led Amy to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the medical professionals involved in his care.

Stella Ritter, John Ritter, and Amy Yasbeck at the Daytime Emmy Awards in New York City on May 1, 2001 | Source: Getty Images

Despite the lawsuit not succeeding, Amy remained steadfast in her mission. She started the John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health to raise awareness and educate people about aortic dissection. The foundation provides information, awareness campaigns, and funds for developing diagnostic tools.

Amy believes that the foundation has saved lives by making people more aware of aortic dissection symptoms and risks. The foundation’s website features the Ritter Rules, guidelines for detecting, treating, and preventing aortic dissection.

While Amy continues her advocacy work, she has chosen not to pursue romantic relationships, feeling that dating would only intensify the void left by John. Despite the challenges, Amy finds solace in the memories of her late husband and the positive impact of the foundation’s efforts to prevent similar tragedies.