Three’s Company star Suzanne Somers described how the series “plucked her out of obscurity” and changed her life forever.
Somers was 30-years-old when she started playing daffy Chrissy Snow on Three’s Company. Millions of Americans flipped on the television to catch the Thursday night comedy. It featured two beautiful women (Somers, Joyce DeWitt) and a handsome man (John Ritter) living together in a Los Angeles area apartment.
The running gag on the show was that the male character (Jack Tripper) had to pretend to be gay so that the landlord would rent the place to the three of them.
Before Three’s Company, Somers wasn’t scoring many great roles. She played the blonde in the white Thunderbird in American Graffiti, the first George Lucas-directed movie. And she had parts in some big 1970s-era TV shows, including the Rockford Files and the Six Million Dollar Man.
But Chrissy Snow turned her into a star. She played Chrissy on Three’s Company for five seasons. Chrissy was short for Christmas. On the show, she played the naive daughter of a minister. Somers was a secretary on the series and basically conveyed every idea of a blonde stereotype. She was brilliant at physical comedy. It turns out, Somers was the third choice to play Chrissy Snow. It’s difficult now to imagine the show without her.
And in a reunion with co-star Joyce DeWitt in 2012, Somers talked about how she transformed herself from Suzanne Somers into Chrissy.
Somers Said Three’s Company Role Was ‘Most Complete’ She Ever Created
“I totally believed I was her,” Somers said of her Three’s Company role. “I remember when I would morph into that character, the shoulders would come up, the ponytail got me into it, the toes would turn in and the eyes would get big. And all the sudden I would be her. I would think like her. That was the most complete character that I ever created.”
Tom Hill, who was then the creative director at TV Land, told Somers that Three’s Company was such a hit because the cast did physical comedy so well. And, he said, the series steered clear of current events, which would date it in syndication.
“You guys were pretty much doing jokes about people and relationships and not about Jimmy Carter or disco or whatever was happening,” Hill said of Three’s Company. “It was just about physical comedy, a misunderstanding. You know, the snort. Those kind of things.
Somers agreed, calling it the “simplest of all plots.” Simple proved to be quite popular. Three’s Company started as a mid-season replacement in 1977 and ran until 1984. In six of the seasons, the show ranked among the top eight in the country.