Three’s Company producers used color coded scripts. But why?
There was animosity between Suzanne Somers and her fellow co-stars and even some of the crew. According to reports, John Ritter and Joyce DeWitt avoided seeing Somers. In Season 5, producers decided to make color-coded scripts to let Ritter and DeWitt prepare for scenes with their estranged co-star. Blue meant that the character of Chrissy would be in a scene while pink meant she would not be present for the taping.
According to reports, some of the disagreements began after Somers discovered that Ritter was making $150,000 while she was making $30,000. Somers complained to the producers but they refused. Somers decided to record her portions for phone call scenes prior to her fellow cast’s arrival. Her character for a time was supposedly “visiting family” when in reality the three couldn’t get along. This feud lasted for thirty years.
Somewhat surprisingly, there was one Three’s Company castmate who apparently took Somers’ side. Don Knotts experienced a similar situation during his time on The Andy Griffith Show. He reportedly knew that it could be lonely so he befriended Somers. In one scene with the other castmates, he stopped them and said, “Excuse me, I’m going to talk to Suzanne.”
Ironically, Somers got the role of Chrissy just one day prior to the show’s airing. You may notice that there is another actress in her place in the end credits. That person was Suze Lanier-Bramlett, who was also considered for the role. ABC didn’t want to pay for a reshoot so they kept it in.
All About Chrissy From ‘Three’s Company’
After Somers’ asked for a pay raise on Three’s Company to get close to Ritter’s salary, ABC offered $5,000. That would have brought up her salary to just 23.3% of what her co-star made. At first, the network didn’t want to replace her as her character became beloved. So during Season 5, Chrissy cared for a sick relative during the majority of the episodes. Somers only had to tape brief appearances for her parts. The ratings for Season 5 were similar to Season 4, so they decided to let her go.
Somers was famously fired in Season 5 after they couldn’t reach a salary agreement. The show would later conclude during Season 8 in 1984.
“They fired me for asking to be paid commensurate with the men,” Somers told Entertainment Tonight. “They need you as the example so no other woman in television will get uppity and think that they could ask for parity with men.”
Somers revealed that at first, she questioned why she left Three’s Company. It was a popular show and she adored her character.
“The voice in my head said, ‘Why are you focused on what you don’t have? Why don’t you focus on what you do have?’ And I sat there and I thought, ‘What do I have?’ And then I realized, ‘Wow, I have enormous visibility. Everybody in this country knows my name,'” she explained.
Somers went on to star in numerous commercials, films, and television shows. She is credited as one of the first groups of women to attempt to negotiate for equal pay in television.