Come and knock on our door…the beloved sitcom Three’s Company (1977 to 1984) is celebrated for its witty humor, memorable characters and timeless comedic situations. Based on the British sitcom Man About the House, Three’s Company starred physical comedy master John Ritter as Jack Tripper, a culinary student who crashes a party and wakes up in Janet Wood (Joyce DeWitt) and Chrissy Snow’s (the late Suzanne Somers) bathtub. Janet, Chrissy and Jack end up becoming roommates, with Jack posing as a gay man in order to trick their conservative landlord and keep the coed living situation going.
While the show brought laughter to millions of viewers in its 172 episodes, the drama, humor and creativity that went on behind the scenes of Three’s Company are equally fascinating — from Billy Crystal almost playing the role of Jack, to the theme song being composed by the same man who wrote the themes for Sesame Street and The Electric Company to the actors filming three pilots before they got it right.
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Here we delve into more fascinating and lesser-known Three’s Company behind the scenes facts and reveal the camaraderie and controversies that may surprise even the biggest fans.
10 Three’s Company behind the scenes facts
1. Suzanne Somers appears in the intro twice
The sexy, short-shorts-wearing brunette walking along the beach that makes John gawk and fall off his bike is actually a well-known presence on Three’s Company. “That brunette is Suzanne with a wig. You can tell by her little Suzanne buns,” Ritter said in the book Come and Knock on Our Door: A Hers and Hers and His Guide to Three’s Company by Chris Mann.
2. Joyce Dewitt wanted to quit after 6 episodes
After taping the first season consisting of only six episodes, Dewitt felt that the producers were pushing her to play Janet as too harsh, and wanted to leave the show if she wasn’t able to evolve the character. Luckily, thanks to her efforts Janet was much more lovable than producers originally intended.
3. Somers spent her first season salary on this
Inspired by the success of Charlie’s Angels star Farrah Fawcett, Somers spent her entire first season’s earnings to hire Fawcett’s press manager, Jay Bernstein, to help make her a star and expand her reach in Hollywood.
4. Ritter hated the episode “Chrissy and the Guru”
Peter Mark Richman appeared in three episodes of Three’s Company as Chrissy’s dad, Reverand Luther Snow. Ritter has said that his least favorite episode was “Chrissy and the Guru,” in which Chrissy, the daughter of a minister, fell prey to a spiritual con.
5. DeWitt became a spokesperson for L’eggs
DeWitt’s tendency to wear pantyhose even with shorts as Janet — and her ability to show off her dancing skills — paid off when she became a dancing spokesperson for L’eggs.
6. ABC bought out a theater to recruit Lindley
ABC so badly wanted Audra Lindley to play Mrs. Roper on Three’s Company, that they paid the L.A. playhouse where she was performing $8,000 — which is worth about $41,000 today — to buy out the entire theater so she could be free to tape the pilot on a Sunday.
7. Richard Kline was punished by producers
Richard Kline, who played Jack’s best friend Larry Dallas, was once written out of the show for four weeks for telling producers at a run-through, “I’d like to discuss my character.”
8. The cast was surprised by sexy Newsweek cover
Ritter said he and DeWitt’s “feelings were hurt” when Somers suddenly was chosen to be center focus at a 1978 Newsweek cover shoot, but they did’t realize the sexy spin. “All of a sudden it was unusually strange … it was a creepy feeling,” Ritter said. Added DeWitt, “John and I had no idea that the approach to the Newsweek article was a T&A thing.” Somers said she, too, was surprised she was being featured.
9. Somers was fired for asking for equal pay
You’d never know based on their on screen relationship, but apparently there were financial tensions between cast members on Three’s Company behind the scenes. According to Three’s Company executive Ted Bergman, John was making $50,000 per episode to Joyce and Suzanne’s $30,000 per episode in the 1980-81 season. When Somers asked for equal pay, she was written off the show.
10. Somers wanted to play Jack’s girlfriend in spinoff
Somers wanted to be John’s live-in girlfriend in Three’s a Crowd, the short-lived Three’s Company spin-off starring Robert Mandan, Mary Cadorette and John Ritter. But the producers balked. “It would’ve been great,” Somers said. “It would’ve completed the circle.”
Three’s Company is currently airing on Antenna TV. To find AntennaTV in your city, head to antennatv.tv.
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