Two of the main three characters on Three’s Company stayed consistent. In the comedy’s eight-year run, John Ritter’s Jack Tripper always was there. So was Joyce DeWitt’s Janet Wood.
But producers of Three’s Company used three different women for the other roommate. Suzanne Somers, who was brilliant as daffy Chrissy Snow, wanted too much money in a contract negotiation. Then Jenilee Harrison replaced Somers, portraying Chrissy’s clueless cousin Cindy Snow.
And finally, the show settled on Priscilla Barnes and her character Terri Alden to be the perfect roommate for Jack and Janet. Barnes stuck with Three’s Company for the series final 70 episodes. And her character, a nurse, was the opposite of Chrissy. That was cool with Barnes.
When Barnes joined the show in 1981, People magazine devoted a cover story to the actress. The new star of Three’s Company was big, big entertainment news considering the series was among the most popular on TV. The only shows more popular were Dallas, 60 Minutes and The Jeffersons. People used a photo of Barnes, Ritter and DeWitt on the cover. In the photo, Barnes was standing strong and winking to the camera with Ritter leaning his head on her shoulder. The headline: “That New Blonde on Three’s Company.”
Barnes was 27 when she joined the comedy about three platonic roommates living the single life in LA. She conceded that she liked the fact that Terri was a nurse and from the East Coast. The People article referred to Somers as a “cupcake” and the “perfect jiggle TV star.”
“I’m glad the producers don’t want me to play dumb,” Barnes told People, “because I’d always be compared to Suzanne.
Barnes added: “And I have to believe that they are getting away from T and A, because as for T, I’m not overly endowed, and I have absolutely no A.”
In an interview in 1998, she described her tenure on Three’s Company as the “three worst years” of her life. And four years later, she told CNN that the show’s bosses were too controlling. She said they even scrutinized the shade of hair. It it was too blond, she’d get a call. Barnes also described the plots as “very formula.”
Barnes now is 67. She’s stayed busy in acting. Her latest show was Jane the Virgin. Playing Magda, the mother of Petra, she was in 41 episodes of the show, which ran from 2014-19.
She also did movies. Her best-known part was playing Della Churchill Leiter in the 1991 James Bond movie Licence to Kill. This was back during Timothy Dalton’s tenure as Bond, James Bond. And Barnes did a variety of horror movies, including Lords of the Deep, Stepfather III, The Devil’s Rejects, and The Visitation.