John Ritter

  1. Leonard Frey, Fiddler on the Roof, 1970.    During the January auditions, director Norman Jewison saw Ritter for Motel… “But even a poor tailor is entitled to some happiness!”
  2. Paul Michael Glaser, Fiddler on the Roof, 1970.    … and Perchik…  “Money is the world’s curse.”
  3. Ray Lovelock, Fiddler on the Roof, 1970.    … and Fyedka. “I’m a pleasant fellow, charming, honest, ambitious, quite bright, and very modest.”
  4. Timothy Bottoms, The Last Picture Show, 1971.     John’s father, cowboy singer Tex Ritter, was also considered for the film – as Sam The Lion (which won an Oscar for another veteran cowpoke, Ben Johnson). Five years later, John finally made his movie debut in another film from director Peter Bogdanovich, Nickelodeon, just before his star took off in TV’s Three’s Company, 1977-1984. He also starred in Bogdanovich’s They All Laughed, 1981 (they all didn’t) and Noises Off, 1991. .
  5. Malcolm McDowell, Voyage of the Damned, 1975.  In a Nazi propaganda exercise – “Nobody loves Jews – so leave them to us”- Germany ships Jews to Havana, in the full knowledge that Cuba won’t accept them. Nor will any other nation. They return home, by which time WWII has begun, and of the 937 passengers, more than 600 die in concentration camps!  ThIs is no retread of Katharine Anne Porter’s Ship of Fools, although similar and both featuring José Ferrer and Oskar Werner (in his final film here). No, this is a terrible true story, stuffed with stars, too many to deal with. Denholm Elliott has one scene, Orson Welles, four; luckier than the jettisoned Janet Suzman and Jack Warden.  A good guy this once, Malcolm McDowell was among the crew instead of (take a breath)… fellow Brits Jon Finch, Anthony Hopkins, Simon MacCorkindale, Ian McShane, John Moulder-Brown. Martin Potter and Hollywood’s  Keith Carradine, Jeff Conaway, Raul Julia, Martin Kove, Joe Mantegna,. Ryan O’Neal, Robert Redford, John Ritter, John Travolta, Jon Voight.  
  6. William Katt, Carrie, 1976.    
  7. Michael Douglas, Fatal Attraction, 1986. 

  8. James Caan, Misery, 1990.
    “Leading men hate to be passive hate to be eunuchised by their female co-stars.”  Top scenarist William Goldman on why 22 actors avoided the prospect of being beaten up and beaten to an Oscar by  Kathy Bates as the mad fan of writer Paul Sheldon. Warren Beatty prevaricated but never actually said no (nor yes). Richard Dreyfuss regretted disappointing director Rob Reiner again after refusing When Harry Met Sally, 1988 (they had earlier  made a classic of   King’s novella, The Body, as Stand By Me, 1985).   William Hurt refused – twice. Jack Nicholson didn’t want another King guy so soon after The Shining.  While Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino being up  for the same role was nothing new  – but Robert Redford and Morgan Freeman was  Also fleeing the  32nd of Stephen King’s staggering 313 screen credits were Tim Allen, Jeff Daniels, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, close pals Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman, Ed Harris, John Heard, Robert Klein, Bill Murray, Ed O’Neill, John Ritter, Denzel Washington, Robin Williams and Bruce Willis… who went on to be Sheldon in Goldman’s  2015 Broadway version.

  9. John Heard, Home Alone, 1990.  For the zero roles of Macauley Culkin’s forgetful parents (in a film written for and duly stolen by him), an astonishing 66 stars were considered – including 32 later seen for the hot lovers in Basic Instinct: Kim Basinger, Stockard Channing, Glenn Close, Kevin Costner, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Douglas, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Linda Hamilton, Daryl Hannah, Marilu Henner, Anjelica Huston, Helen Hunt, Holly Hunter, Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange, Christopher Lloyd, Jack Nicholson, Sean Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer, Annie Potts, Kelly Preston, Dennis Quaid, Meg Ryan, Martin Sheen, Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, John Travolta.   Other potential Pops were Dan Aykroyd, Jim Belushi, Chevy Chase, Jeff Daniels, Tony Danza, John Goodman, Charles Grodin, Tom Hanks, Robert Hays, Steve Martin, Rick Moranis, Bill Murray, Ed O’Neill, John Ritter, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Skerritt, Robin Williams… and the inevitable unknowns: Broadway’s Mark Linn-Baker, Canadian musicians-comics  Alan Thicke (“the affordable William Shatner”) and Dave Thomas.
  10. Owen Wilson, She’s Funny That Way, 2013. Or Squirrels to the Nuts (a Lubitsch line from Cluny Brown, 1945) when director Peter Bogdanovich was due to helm it with his Paper Moon star, Tatum O’Neal (“This movie is my gift to her”) and John Ritter.  But everything fell apart after Ritter’s sudden death in 2003. .    Two of Bogdanovich’s protégés — Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach – were his exec producers. It was Peter who introduced Wilson to his often director, Anderson.

 Birth year: 1948Death year: 2003Other name: Casting Calls:  10