Fans remember Suzanne Somers as Chrissy Snow on “Three’s Company.” But what they may not know is that she was the third actress selected for the role. And if it wasn’t for legendary TV executive Fred Silverman, it’s likely that she never would have appeared on the show.
Christmas Snow was the third roommate in Apt. 201. She composed a third of the “company” described in the show’s title. She was joined in the apartment, of course, by Jack Tripper and Janet Wood. But Suzanne Somers, John Ritter, and Joyce DeWitt were not the first iteration of the final “three.” In fact, two different actresses played the role of Chrissy in two separate pilot episodes.
According to producer George Sunga, the character herself hadn’t really be nailed down yet, so it wasn’t necessarily easy to cast someone for the role. In a 2008 interview with the Archive of American Television, he talked about how they eventually landed on Suzanne Somers.
“The Chrissy character, the Chrissy role, had not really been defined yet. So it was still a vague character. And that’s when Suzanne Somers was brought in at the suggestion of Fred Silverman at ABC,” Sunga said.
‘Three’s Company’ Producer Didn’t Think Somers was the Right Choice at First
To understand the search for someone to play Chrissy, we first need to understand that the first two pilot episodes for “Three’s Company” were unsuccessful.
In the first pilot, Chrissy didn’t exist. Instead, there was a character named Samantha in her place. Samantha was played by Suzanne Zenor, who you may recognize from her role as Margo Horton on “Days of Our Lives.” After that pilot failed to get picked up, they tried again.
This time, Susan Lanier played the role of the newly introduced Chrissy. But unfortunately, this pilot didn’t work either. Sunga explains that the combinations of casting and writing just weren’t right, but it didn’t have anything to do with the individual talent of the actresses. It was about finding the right fit.
Finally, Suzanne Somers was brought in after Fred Silverman brought her name up. And George Sunga didn’t see it at first, but Silverman’s word was not to be taken lightly.
“When Fred Silverman says I think you should look at this lady, it’s not anything you would take lightly. So they brought her into us. And she met the cast,” Sunga continued in the 2008 interview. “And she got it.”
Somers auditioned for Fred Silverman. And George Sunga claimed it was how Somers played comedy that landed her the role.