Journal: News & Comment

Friday, September 12, 2003
# 7:47:00 AM:


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[Johnny Cash and his famous finger] In my mind, John Ritter and Johnny Cash never had much of a connection, until they both died yesterday. Ritter would have been only 55 next week, he died suddenly and unexpectedly of an undetected heart condition, and no one knew him to sing. Cash was 71, had been ill for a long time, his wife died not long ago, and he was about as far from slapstick as you can imagine.

But it turns out that Ritter was the son of Tex Ritter, a country-and-western music legend. The younger Ritter's TV popularity swung wildly, but he had been a solid working actor on stage, television, and film for nearly 30 years. While I grew up watching him on Three's Company, my kids recognize him as the voice of Clifford the Big Red Dog. He had four kids (the youngest of whom turned five yesterday, quite sadly).

Cash was, of course, maybe the country music legend, as well as a rock-n-roll pioneer. He was the subject of perhaps the greatest rock photo (by photographer Jim Marshall) ever taken. He had his first top five hit in 1956. In 1969, he accounted for 5% of record sales in the U.S.A., outselling the Beatles. He's a member of both the rock and country music halls of fame. This year, one of his videos won an MTV Video Music Award. Married twice, he had seven children, some of them pretty famous too.


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