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James Garner joins bereaved ''8 Simple Rules'' family

James Garner joins bereaved ”8 Simple Rules” family. He’ll play the father of Katey Sagal’s widowed character in the first post-John Ritter episode

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James Garner
James Garner: Patrick Davy & Didier Toulorge/Liaison/NewsCom

When ”8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter” returns, helping the sitcom’s family deal with the loss of John Ritter will be another ’70s TV icon, James Garner. The ”Rockford Files” star will play the father of Katey Sagal’s widowed character on the first of the post-Ritter episodes, which begins shooting on Monday and will run an hour, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Grandpa Garner will stick around to help the bereaved family for four episodes. His character will be dealing with his own marital loss, having recently separated from his wife. We’ll meet the grandmother, too. ABC has not cast that role yet, but the network said the estranged grandma would probably appear in one or two but not all four of Garner’s episodes.

In the coming weeks, producers are expected to turn to some of last season’s guest stars, including Larry Miller, Cindy Williams, and John Ratzenberger, to return and visit the Hennessy family, whose patriarch was written out of the show after Ritter’s sudden death from a heart ailment on Sept. 11. The first of the Garner episodes is expected to air on the first or second Tuesday of November, in time for the month’s ratings sweeps period.