Tuesday’s Tribute: Clint Ritchie

Jay and Deb’s writing exercise, Tuesday’s Tribute, challenges bloggers to pause and remember that it is not all about them. Rather, each Tuesday, participants “shine a light on someone else.”

He could charm the chrome off the bumper of your daddy’s 1957 Chevy. And he knew it.

A mock-up of the fictional Llanview, Pa’s Banner newspaper, presented to Clint when he retired in 1998.

The first time he ever called our home, BigBob answered.  He told me later that he instantly recognized the distinctive voice that began the conversation this way:  “So this must be BigBob.  I hear you like to pop a brew and watch ol’ .” They chatted as if they had known each other their whole lives.  When I got home, Clint and I spent another two-and-a-half-hours talking long distance, getting to know each other. (I previously wrote about how we came to know each other here and here.)

For the past three days, I have been resisting the urge to dial his number, hoping against hope that he will answer.  But he won’t.

My friend, Clint Ritchie, died this past Saturday.

I am a writer, but I am utterly incapable of describing how sad I am that I will never again pick up the phone and hear him say, “Honey, how are you?”

I will miss his laugh more than anything.  He loved to call and tell me terrible jokes.  And when I feigned disinterest or disgust, he just laughed more heartily.  He’d say, “Now make sure you tell BigBob that one,” thoroughly amused by his own antics.

As I thought about what I most wanted to write in tribute to my friend, so many memories came flooding back of good times spent together in New York City or at his cherished Happy Horse Ranch. But the word that would not leave my mind was friend. Clint had a big heart and he was loyal. I always had the confidence and security of knowing that if I needed assistance, Clint would “have my back,” unwavering and steady. In the vernacular of “Grey’s Anatomy,” he was “my person.”

In New York City, December 1998.

When I was undergoing treatment for a detached retina, I was blessed by the support and encouragement I received from friends and family. But Clint was the person who called most regularly to check in and cheer me up. I was required to lay on my stomach for more than two weeks following the first surgery. I was only allowed to get up to use the bathroom and eat, but had to keep my head down at all times. Reading was impossible, so BigBob put the television and DVD player on the floor at the foot of the bed so that I could pass the time watching movies or my favorite programs with my good eye. He would leave the telephone there so that I could make or receive calls, and then go about taking care of the boys and house. The days seemed endless. I was uncomfortable and could barely sleep because of the fact that I couldn’t do anything so I didn’t get tired, not to mention the fear and worry I was experiencing. Clint called me nearly every day — and several times on some days. He would say, “Honey, you are going to be fine. I don’t want to hear any negativity. You are going to get through this. I am visualizing your recovery now. I want you to visualize it, too.” He told me corny jokes and we chatted about what was happening in the world. He made it a point to call at 1:00 p.m. so that we could watch “” together. We discussed how the show had changed in the years since his retirement and he shared stories about his former co-stars. His steadfast presence helped get me through those frightening days.

(1938–2009)

We sometimes finished each other’s sentences. It was not unusual for him to call me at the precise moment that I was thinking about him — or vice versa.

So I did not rush to the hospital to visit him in his final hours on earth when his voice had been silenced; he could not respond. I knew he wanted me to remember him as the self-proclaimed “good lookin’ sum-bitch” that he was. And remember the way he always laughed when he said that.

I envision heaven as the kind of place we most enjoyed being during our lifetime, surrounded by the people, animals, and things we loved. If that’s the case, Clint has embarked upon an eternal journey through green pastures filled with beautiful horses, reunited with all of the animals he loved so passionately, especially his faithful companion, Lucky, forever exhibiting the charm that so endeared him — on and off-screen — to the many people who, like me, will always miss him.


Comments

  1. Melissa says

    This was wonderful hearing about your friendship, and I am OSO sorry I missed hearing about it more often. I’m thinking of Clint again today, and of you too. Please keep writing as much as you can.
    Love, M.

  2. Nadine says

    I had originally met Clint when I went to the set to watch a blocking at the studio, we chatted, he was terrific. We met for lunch, I was a nervous wreck and I think he got quite a kick of how nervous I was. Phil Carey came by during lunch and I got to sit and watch the amazing dynamics between these 2 great guys. From that lunch on, our relationship was established and I got to really know Clint Ritchie. Although he wanted you to know him as one tough dude, there was a little boy quality to him that really endeared him to people. He and I went through a lot together, good times and bad times and I will always cherish those times. I will cherish knowing he was my friend and I will miss him a great deal. He was just one of those people you never forget, he was an amazing human being. God Bless you, Clint. Love always, Nadine

  3. Kathy says

    I just wanted to come by and add to the thoughts and prayers that go out to Clint’s family & friends. Clint was a wonderful actor who brought many years of enjoyment to his OLTL fans. I have thought of him often today, remembering all the times as a young Mom I would watch him…how OLTL was my afternoon enjoyment after a busy day w/my children.

    He will be sorely missed.

    Kathy

  4. says

    when i read the news of his passing last night i thought about you as i recalled that you have mentioned your friendship with him. it is clear he has had a profound impact on your life. i am so sorry for your loss. thank you for sharing so much more of the man that he was.

    laura´s most recent post: thank goodness this is now

  5. Vickie says

    Loved reading about your friendship with Clint Ritchie!! I remember after he retired: you two getting together via the computer and answering questions for all of us regarding his life. That web broadcast and chat was something so special I’ll never forget it or him!! I watched him portray Clint Buchanan for years, but having that opportunity to get to listen to his thoughts and a bit of his life for just that small period of time was wonderful. It’s so hard realizing that he is really gone!!

    The beginning of January I went to your site again as I often have over the years to watch more footage of Clint in action. I have so missed his talent — - that I would watch it over and over from time to time just to fill that void I’ve felt since he left OLTL. Knowing that he was happy on his ranch always gave me comfort… though now where there was comfort I currently feel sadness. He was one of a kind.

    My thoughts and my prayers go out to his family and to his dearest friends!!

  6. Debby Taylor says

    Janie

    What a wonderful tribute! The clip about Jessica broke my heart because we will never see the likes of him. He should have won an Emmy for that scene and for his work in the Viki/Niki plot and the 1888 Buchanan City storyline. He had a presence that is sorely lacking on the show now. He had a way of conveying a scene without frills and overacting like some actors who used theatrics. Clint as an actor reminded me a lot of Jimmy Stewart. He was himself. And that made his performances all that poignant. I will always remember when Clint was sitting by Jessica’s bedside after the accident that killed her baby and was singing “The Yellow Rose of Texas” to her. That really got me in the gut.

    You are so lucky to have known him. We loyal fans are hurting but you must be hurting more. He was quite a character!!! And God has a special place for “characters”!!!

  7. Marianne says

    To those of you who knew him, you have no idea how lucky you were. A man like him comes around once in a lifetime if ever. I got an idea of what this man really was like. He seemed to be a combo of John Wayne and Cary Grant. Who could act all tough but when he flashed that smile with those dimples could melt the coldest heart.
    Janie and Nadine, I wish we could all give you a big hug to help comfort you at this time of loss. I know he has gone back home to heaven. He really was a gift from God to the world. I just wish the world would have paid more attention to him while he was here. It is sad to think that the antics of young Hollywood is more important than the passing of such a wonderful man. Thank you for posting your thoughts. The memories you have will remain in your hearts forever. God Bless you Clint Ritchie.

  8. JHS says

    To all who have commented: Thank you for your very kind remarks. It has been a helluva week, compounded by the fact that this past Friday, February 6, 2009, Clint’s on-screen Pa and off-screen friend, Phil Carey, also died. The irony is not lost on those of us who knew Clint and were privy to the depth and strength of his relationship with Philly.

    @Marianne: What makes this so difficult is the fact that I know exactly how lucky I was to have had Clint as a friend. He was a self-professed loner who pretended to be tough and strong. But from time to time, he let people glimpse inside that big ol’ heart of his and it was a wondrous sight. And once he became your friend, that was it. He was your friend come hell or high water. You are absolutely right when you say that no one like him will ever come along again.

    Most remarkable about him was the fact that he was able to be a friend to a man or woman. That is such a rare thing. Years ago, some sick people on the Internet tried to make something sordid out of our friendship. We laughed about it because we knew they were simply unable to comprehend that a man like Clint could call a woman “Honey” (as I always let him, but no other man except my husband, call me) with genuine affection, hold the door open for her, stand when she entered the room, and refuse to let her carry anything heavy. But he could also talk on the phone with a woman for hours about all kinds of topics, demonstrating respect and admiration for her intellect, talent, and independence. When I was litigating Conservatorship of Wendland, he was my staunch supporter. When I was considering a job change, he listened carefully to my desires and wishes, and provided me with valuable insight and input. We argued about politics and world events. We argued about “One Life to Live.”

    Yet when my kid smarted off to me one day up at the Ranch, he quickly turned to him and said, “Did you hear your mother?” I will never forget the look on #1Son’s face! Clint then took him aside quietly and had a little talk with him about respecting his “Ma,” offering to let him become a resident of the Ranch for awhile if he wanted to learn some lessons about hard work and appreciation for what we have. In fact, I told my son last week, “Now that Clint is gone, where am I going to threaten to send you when you mouth off to me?”

    Most of all, Clint was a deeply spiritual man who had a quiet, abiding faith. Like me, he grew up in the Lutheran Church and, like me, moved away from institutional religion. But he didn’t move away from God. and reminded his friends regularly that there is no place “where God is not.”

    BigBob and I had a good laugh Friday night when we imagined the reunion of Bucky and Philly in heaven. I think their co-star, Hillary B. Smith, said it best: “It is amazing to lose Clint Ritchie and Phil Carey in the same week, and yet I don’t think they would have wanted it any other way. I just hope they both end up in the same place or there will be Hell to pay … literally.”

  9. says

    I am so sorry for the loss of Clint Ritchie. I remember when the Buchanans “rode into town” and always loved watching Clint on “One Life to Live.” The qualities you described shone through in his characterization. Take care.

  10. Maura (nerdy nerd) says

    Wow. Janie. I have been in utter shock since hearing the news about Clint and then again about Phil. You and others have written some beautiful sentiments, and imparted some wonderfully endearing stories. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Ms. Lolly says

    You actually made me get teary eyed reading your beautiful account of your friendship. I’m sure he would have appreciated it greatly. I was a fan of his ever since I started watching OLTL with my grandmother at the age of 8. My grams would laugh when I would say I was going to grow up and marry Clint Buchanan. I even begged my family to buy a VCR just so I wouldn’t miss anything while at school. I was just lucky enough to get dvds of Clint’s long run and in rewatching the old episodes I am still just as enchanted with the cowboy as ever. Thank you so much for putting up all the comments of his co-stars. He wa so very special and will certainly be missed.

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  1. […] you tell BigBob that one,’ thoroughly amused by his own antics.”Check out the tribute here which includes memories of the actor, photos and a mock Llanview Banner newspaper given to Ritchie […]