The Greg Brady Project

Welcome to the official Barry Williams' blog

My friends call me Barry. From time to time I also hear the name Greg. Yeah, as in Greg Brady. The Brady Bunch represents a fun time in my life. But it’s only part of the story. There’s more to say and that’s what The Greg Brady Project is all about – a place to say it. So, I’ve invited some friends to join me and share their perspectives on the Brady’s, the 70′s and just about everything else. Now, I’m inviting you…

28 Feb
Barry Williams

In Great Company

written by Barry Williams in Blog, barry | 5 comments

‘In Great Company’
‘Three’s Company’

I like to think of John Ritter as my friend but he was really more of an acquaintance. John passed away in September of 2003. He died from a torn aorta but was treated at the hospital for a heart attack. His widow is suing the doctors in a wrongful death suit. This has to be tremendously difficult for everyone. It also puts a different type of focus on a terrific comedic actor and generous man.

After the Brady Bunch ended I felt like I was kind of tossed out into the cold cruel world of reality. Often times actors on successful series are put out to the television pasture for a while until they can reinvent themselves. I busied myself in musical theater, concerts, personal appearances and the occasional guest role on TV.

In 1982 I had a chance to audition for the role of a very wealthy business tycoon, named David Winthrop for an episode of Three’s Company entitled, Up In the Air. I was particularly interested in this role because it wasn’t anything like all around good guy, Greg Brady. I would be the love interest of Janet, played by Joyce DeWitt. After a meeting and a call-back with the producers, I got the job.

In the show I invite Janet and a date to fly to my private island for a party. She brings along Jack, John Ritter, who has never flown anywhere before. To brace himself for the flight he takes some tranquilizers, which affect his sensibilities in a BIG way. At the party he dances with all the guests, on the sofa, with a light stand and ends up wearing the shade on his head. Basically he ruins my upscale and snooty party.

In actor-speak with John about how to approach the material he shared with me how much he admired Jerry Lewis and his ability to do physical comedy. He told me he had studied Jerry’s performances to understand his timing. Well, I guess the study paid off. John Ritter is one of the best physical comedy performers on TV. This episode of Three’s Company gave him the chance to use all of it and he did. It was sort of a tour-de-force performance. I had a great time working on the show and watching his skill and talents combine to take the audience on a ride.

Ten years later I went to see John in a Broadway comedy that co-starred Henry Winkler. They were a great team. I had met Henry but didn’t know him and hadn’t seen John since I was on his show, so I didn’t feel comfortable going backstage unannounced.

At the end of the show a theater usher came to my seat and said Mr. Ritter would like for me to come backstage. Apparently someone had told him I was in the audience. I was pleased I would have the chance to tell them directly how much I had enjoyed their show. Both Henry and John came out to speak with me. With John it was like no time had passed at all. He was genuinely pleased I was there and he wanted to share something with me. He wanted me to know that in the seven seasons of Three’s Company, Up In the Air was his favorite episode. Wow.

This is the way I choose to remember John Ritter. A happy, talented, funny and sincere man. A man I like to think of as my friend. May he rest in peace.

 

5 Comments

    Chatty
    on Mar. 2nd, 2008

    I’ve always been a fan of John Ritter and was quite saddened by his death. The cynical part of me often wondered how long it would take for someone to sue because of a wrongful death. I can understand that his wife is angry and that his children will go on without a father. How much money will it take to fill a void? Is there a price on a life? I hope they find some peace in all of this.

    Eric Greenberg
    on Mar. 2nd, 2008

    One of the single funniest sitcom episodes of all time. John really gives a lesson in physical comedy, with an assist from our very own Barry Williams. What more could you want?

    Ginger
    on Mar. 2nd, 2008

    A very heartfelt post, Barry.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences and thoughts.

    theatertrip
    on Mar. 17th, 2008

    Chatty, Please check out online articles about the organization the family wants to set up to help others avoid dying from what John did.

    theatertrip
    on Mar. 17th, 2008

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. It helps when dealing with sadness from losing his “company”. I grew up watching “Three’s Company”….and continued to love watching the show. Decades!?! His endearing character showed how talented he was and I’m sad that he passed so young.

    Also, Thank you for updating your book which I am reading now. Insightful, poignant, humorous!

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