‘Three’s Company’ Star Suzanne Somers Remembers ‘Clearly Being Underpaid’ on the Classic TV Series

by Caitlin Berard

For four years, Suzanne Somers played the leading role of the bubbly, pigtailed typing receptionist Chrissy Snow on the classic TV series Three’s Company, alongside John Ritter and Joyce DeWitt. The remaining four seasons, however, were filmed without her, as she asked for a raise that the producers refused.

In 1980, Suzanne Somers decided she’d had enough of being paid $30,000 per episode when her male co-star, John Ritter, was making $150,000. She played a leading role, just like Ritter, and demanded that her pay reflect that fact.

At that time, however, female actors having equal salaries to their male counterparts was virtually unheard of. To this day, in fact, the average male actor makes $1 million more than the average female. So, rather than give her a raise, the Three’s Company producers decided they could carry on with only two of the original roommates.

In an interview with Fox News, Somers described her thought process behind leaving the show rather than accepting a relatively meager salary.

“At that time, the men were making 10 to 15 times more than I was,” the actress said. “And I was on the No. 1 show. It just seemed wrong because I was clearly being underpaid. And it’s not like I stopped the show. My contract was up. We had a meeting with the lawyers [at ABC] … But, by then, they had already decided.”

Suzanne Somers Describes Being Fired from ‘Three’s Company’

Suzanne Somers didn’t want to leave Three’s Company. She enjoyed the show, her co-stars, and acting in general. But a 500% raise was far more than they were willing to give, and she was fired. Though she knew it was coming, Somers couldn’t help but feel massive disappointment when her husband returned from the meeting with the ABC execs and gave her the news.

“I was waiting at home,” she recalled. “And remember, this was a time before cell phones, so it felt like an eternity. It was a gray day. And the front door opened in a way that you knew bad news was coming. It was really slow. And I heard my husband going up the stairs really slowly. I met him at the landing.”

“He looked at me, shook his head, and said, ‘You’re out. You were gone within the first five minutes when I walked into the meeting,'” Somers said. “Now, I was out of work and labeled ‘trouble’ only because I wanted to be paid fairly for doing my job.”

The Three’s Company star didn’t give up, however, and instead started her career in business. She launched the ThighMaster in 1990, a piece of exercise equipment that remains popular to this day. With 30 years in the business world, Suzanne Somers has made herself a mogul.

“I have over a thousand products,” she explained. “Would I have wanted to do it this way? No. But I allowed it to take me and us where it wanted to go. My biggest complaint today is that I work too much.”