Jeff Ross remembers Bob Saget: He ‘treated everyone like family’


By Marianne Garvey

Updated 9:03 AM ET, Thu January 13, 2022

The “Fuller House” star was well known for his efforts to help fellow comics and strangers alike. No one knows that better than comedian Jeff Ross, who was close with Saget for more than 15 years.

And while he mourns his friend, Ross pointed out how even in death Saget seemed to honor his profession.

“You know he was this global superstar, TV star, but he passed away, alone in a hotel room, on the road, like a true comic,” Ross said. “I think that in a odd way that is sort of poetic and perfect. Even though way too soon, it’s kind of how I would want to go.”

Albeit a very successful comic, who Ross hopes “died peacefully, tucked into an $800 a night room.”

“He’s one of ten comics in the world who could stay at the Ritz after a gig, you know,” Ross mused in a phone call with CNN.

Ross said he has been in close contact with Saget’s daughters Aubrey, 34, Lara, 32, and Jennifer, 29, and his widow, Kelly Rizzo, since his friend’s death.

Saget’s family is “hurting,” Ross said. He described his partnership with Rizzo as “perfect.”

“She was very well suited for him and him for her. She was a real partner to him and it’s exactly what Bob needed was somebody who could challenge him and love him at the same time. And it’s a real, beautiful love affair, you know, and it was just perfect in every way.”

CNN spoke with Ross on Wednesday, just before he and singer John Mayer were preparing to drive to the airport in Los Angeles to pick up Saget’s car, a gesture that meant a great deal to Rizzo.

“These 2 men have been holding me up and taking care of me (along with many other incredible people who loved my husband more than anything),” Rizzo commented on the Instagram video shared by Mayer. “But these two, driving our little Prius that Bob left at the airport, home, was such a solid. And I am happy it gave them time to some ruminate and share their love of Bob with all who watched. The Prius is now home.”

Ross shared more memories of his beloved friend Saget with CNN.

The conversation, lightly edited for length and clarity, follows below.

Why do you think [Saget] felt so moved to help people, even when they were strangers, and the time he took to do so?

“Well, that’s interesting. He had this odd rabbi, like quality to him, you know, he’s a guy that figured himself out at a young age. He was already on stage when most people were just finishing high school. And I think because he started so young. Bob won a student Oscar when he was in college too.” (Saget received a Student Academy Award in 1978 for his film “Through Adam’s Eyes,” about his nephew who had undergone facial reconstructive surgery.)

“Bob was very, very intense in many ways. He had a lot of loss early on.”

There are a lot of coincidences and that would make you look at life in a very empathetic way, like Bob did.

“He died on the same day as his sister. And they both died on their other sister’s birthday, who also died. His sister has the same day of death that he does. And that day was their first sister’s birthday. His daughter, Aubrey just told me that.”

(Saget’s older sister, Andrea, died in 1984 after suffering a brain aneurism and another sister, Gay, died in 1994 from the autoimmune disease scleroderma.)

This has been a theme through his whole life.

“Life and death, yes. You know, you want to talk about his generosity of spirit, like this Scleroderma Research Organization that you keep hearing about. When you talk about these benefits he would do, he was doing them years before his sister had the disease.”

Why was he drawn to it without knowing that it was going to affect him personally?

“He was drawn to people that needed help. It didn’t matter who you were. Sometimes it would be frustrating because you’d go somewhere with him and he would talk to every single person. It didn’t matter what their role was, it didn’t matter how your big or small your stature was. He would talk to every schmuck in the street, and you know, sometimes when you’re just his buddy waiting to go get a drink. [laughs] He loved to talk. [“Full House” and “Fuller House” star] Jodie Sweetin was telling me yesterday, we’ve all been gathering and bonding over this stuff, and she was telling me how he would just talk and talk and talk through table reads at ‘Full House’ when she was a kid. She’d miss school, trying to get Bob to stop talking.”

Why do you think that was?

“He just loved to communicate. He loved to connect. He loved to make people laugh. But more importantly, he loved dispensing advice. You know, I have Bob’s doctor, when I needed a doctor, I called Bob, you need a lawyer, you call Bob, you need life advice, you want to know how insurance works, you wanna know how real estate works, you want to know how to get through something in a relationship, you want to know about Covid, he was always up to date and loved to be everybody’s rabbi, everybody’s consigliere. I think part of it was because he was so comfortable in his own skin.”

How did he find the time to dedicate so much energy to so many people?

“You know, everybody was family to him. The comedians were his family. His daughters are his family, his wife, Kelly, is his family. But on top of that, what’s astounding to me is he took his fake TV family and now they’re his real family.”

It has been interesting to see, the outpouring [of love and tributes] from so many different people.

“He would’ve been thrilled with this outpouring, from his fans all over the world, yeah. And let’s face it. Somebody had to knock that two-bit punk, Betty White off the internet. (Laughs) I mean, come on enough already.”

What makes this loss so big for you?

“I loved him, I’m really gonna miss him. You know, he was my safety net in life. I feel unprotected without him. I feel vulnerable without him. And I’m not the only one.”

How is his wife doing?

“She’s inconsolable. There’s nothing I can say to her to make her feel better. She really expected a much longer life with Bob.” (Rizzo and Saget wed in 2018.)

And how are his girls? His daughters.

“His girls, it’s really hard on them. It’s hard on them. You know, I lost my dad, so I get it and you see so much of him in them. So I know that they feel the way he feels, they have those emotions, the way he had those emotions. I know they’re hurting and, and I’ve been trying to just talk to them as much as possible. No one saw this coming. And he really was a king in the comedy world.”

Want to add any final thoughts on your friend?

    “You usually see it coming, but this one’s cold. This one’s really cold.”