Mark Ritts, American production company executive. Recipient 3 Silver medals, 1 Gold medal New York Film and television Festival, 1979-1982, Jury award, 1984-1985, Case Gold medal, 1986. Member of Harvard.
Ritts was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Being the son of noted puppeteers Paul and Mary Ritts, he pursued a sideline in puppetry, starring in Public Broadcasting Service"s The Real Adventures of Sherlock Jones and Proctor Watson and National Broadcasting Company"s The Pink Panther Show, among many others
He graduated from Harvard with a degree in English literature.
Ritts also produced and directed many independent videos and television spots as president of Mark Ritts Productions, Incorporated., for clients around the world. In the 1980s he was the puppeteer for the Philadelphia-area produced Starstuff. From 1992 to 1998, he participated on Columbia Broadcasting System"s Beakman"s World.
In it, Ritts starred as Lester, a disgruntled actor (with a bad agent) in a rat suit who reluctantly helps Beakman with his experiments and trades barbs with Josie, Liza and Phoebe.
The character was originally conceived as a puppet character, but at the last minute, the show"s producers decided he would be a costumed actor. Ritts also operated the Herb penguin puppet, with the voice provided by Alan Barzman.
The program has been televised in nearly 90 countries around the world, and is seen in syndication throughout the United States. After moving to California from the East Coast in 1994, Mark wrote and produced a Barney the Dinosaur special for Fox, as well as a one-hour documentary on microbiology called Creators of the Future, which debuted in prime time on Public Broadcasting Service in 1999.
Ritts is also the co-author (with Don Fleming, Doctor of Philosophy) of a parenting book entitled Mom, I Hate You, released by Three Rivers/Random House in April 2003.
In July 2005, he and co-producer/writer/director Ted Field released Cast Office for Catalina, a Digital Video Disc about visiting and enjoying southern California"s Santa Catalina Island aboard your own boat. A second Digital Video Disc, Cast Office for Mexico, was released in 2007. Ritts provided the voice for the character Gianciotto in the 2007 film Dante"s Inferno.
He made a major high-definition documentary for Merck & Company and creative directed an elaborate conference for Carlson Hotels at Las Vegas"s Bellagio Resort and Casino.
He was also a director of the Court television series North Mission Road. Ritts died from kidney cancer in Louisiana Cañada Flintridge, California.
He was 63 years old. He was previously married to Nina Daniel and they had two sons.
Member of Harvard.
Married Nina Daniel (divorced 1987). Children Daniel Allen, James Paul.