ABC’s hit sitcom “Three’s Company” made stars out of John Ritter and Suzanne Somers, but Somers’ leaving the show hurt Ritter.
Let’s turn the way-back machine to the show’s run from 1977-84 where Ritter, Somers, and Joyce DeWitt were its main characters. Now they stayed together for the show’s first five seasons, then things turned a bit sour between Ritter and Somers.
Ritter played Jack Tripper, a straight man who lived with DeWitt, whose character Janet Wood was a struggling actress yet reliable around the apartment.
Tripper also lived in the same space with Suzanne Somers and her character Chrissy Wood, an ambitious wanna-be actress who wore rather fluffy nightwear on the show.
In order for Jack to remain there, they had to explain that he actually was a gay man so the landlords wouldn’t toss him out.
Suzanne Somers Wanted Equal Pay Of John Ritter
When Somers reached the end of the show’s fifth season, her contract expired.
Ritter was considered the star of the show and made more than DeWitt and Somers. Well, Somers wanted to make the same amount as Ritter which was a bit more than $100,000 per episode than Somers.
She didn’t like the network’s response and took her complaints public to the media. Once that happened, Somers was off the show. Her space on the show was filled with a Chrissy-like character, but it was not the same.
Ritter didn’t like the fact that she went public with her complaints. He took it personally. In fact, the relationship between Ritter and Somers took nearly 20 years to repair.
They did mend their fences, so to speak, and became cordial toward each other once again.
Somers’ Departure Sent Ratings Down The Tube
The show, once Somers left, seemed to lose a bit of the luster it gained. Ratings were not as strong. Originally, the show had veteran character actors Audra Lindley and Norman Fell cast as the Ropers.
They were not only the neighbors but landlords of the apartment. Their interaction became so popular that “The Ropers” became a spin-off of “Three’s Company.” It did not stick with fans, though, and flamed out in the ratings.
To take their place, the show hired Don Knotts, well-known for his work as Deputy Barney Fife on “The Andy Griffith Show,” to play Ralph Furley in the landlord role.
He and the other cast members did their best to keep the show afloat, but it all ended with the show’s final season closing up in 1984.
Ritter went on to find success on stage and in TV shows. In fact, he was starring in another ABC sitcom, “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter,” when he suffered an aortic dissection and died on Sept. 11, 2003, at 54 years old.
Reruns of “Three’s Company” remain popular in syndication around the world. People can still watch the misadventures of Jack, Janet, Chrissy and the other show regulars, finding humor in their different situations.