- - Sunday, April 30, 2017

Amy Yasbeck is a funny, funny lady. The fiery redheaded actress is best known for her work on the TV show “Wings” and the films “Splash Too,” “Robin Hood: Men in Tights,” “The Mask” and “Problem Child.”

It was on the set of “Problem Child” where she met and fell in love with fellow actor John Ritter of “Three’s Company” fame. The couple married in 1999 and had one daughter together. But her hilarious life became no laughing matter when Ritter died unexpectedly of an aortic dissection in 2003.

Since then Miss Yasbeck has continued to do some acting (“That’s So Raven”), but most of her energies have gone into spreading awareness of heart disease. Miss Yasbeck to discussed The John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health, why people think she is “Desperate Housewives” actress Marcia Cross and what it may take to get Mel Brooks to accept her marriage proposals.

Question: Is it true this is your first ever autograph show?

Answer: I have never done a signing show before. I love it! I’m kind of a people person.

In the past when people mailed me photos to sign, I have always wanted to ask the people about their lives. I want to write back because they write such nice letters to me. Being here, meeting people face to face is so much fun. I’m hooked.

Plus you get to see old friends. I just snuck up and hugged my friend Henry Winkler. He was one of John’s very, very, very best friends. And I grabbed him from behind. I swear he was going to scream for security.

Q: What is the most common things fans say to you when they meet you?

A: They say, “I loved you in “Desperate Housewives.” (Laughs) Just kidding. I’m not Marcia Cross.

Q: Do people confuse you for Marcia Cross often?

A: Every once in a while. It’s so much fun. They go, “Girl, I know you. I know you.” I just wait for it. They say, “I loved you on that ‘desperate’ show.”

Hopefully she gets confused for me as well, although she is about a foot taller than I am.

Q: Has anyone asked you to sign anything weird?

A: Not yet. Why, are you leading up to something? Keep your pants on! Keep your pants on! (Laughs)

Q: Is it safe to assume that John Ritter was the love of your life?

A: Absolutely safe to assume.

Q: Is the John Ritter Foundation your life’s work?

A: My foundation is absolutely my life’s work. At the same time, I’m still acting and writing and writing music. I’ve got it all going on.

Every day I reach out to people and people talk to me about their experiences with aortic disease. The world has changed. People are able to reach out more easily and get information. My job is to make sure they get the current and most up-to-date information.

We’ve created this thing called “Ritter Rules” — 10 rules that are culled from the actual guidelines for the treatment of aortic dissection. That were not around when John passed away. They were published in 2010 by a group that I’m involved with.

Q: If this information we have today existed in 2003, would it have saved John’s life?

A: There is post-John Ritter awareness of aortic disease. And pre-awareness. Sadly, John had to pass for there to be post-awareness. It’s very sad, but it’s very satisfying for all of his kids and the family and family of fans all over the world to know that if he would have survived, he would be such an advocate for awareness. He would be on all these shows talking about it.

He was the Los Angeles frontman for United Cerebral Palsy because his brother Tom has cerebral palsy. Because we know that aortic disease is often genetic, Tom Ritter was scanned years ago. I dragged his ass there a couple years later, and his life was saved thanks to the awareness that existed because of John’s death. Tom was saved by his little brother.

Q: When you look back on your career, what were your favorite films or TV shows?

A: “Problem Child” for obvious reason. “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” because of Mel Brooks, who I’m still proposing to every day. He’s a logical love follow-up. (Laugh)

Q: What is taking him so long to say yes?

A: He talks really slowly. (Laughs)

For more information on The John Ritter Foundation go to johnritterfoundation.org.

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