If you were like millions of Americans from 1976 to 1984, you came knocking on the door every week to see what type of antics the cast of “Three’s Company” would get into. The show was groundbreaking at the time, featuring a straight man who had to pretend he was gay so he could continue living with two single women under the suspicious nose of his eavesdropping landlord. The TV series featured a crazy mix of outlandish schemes, physical comedy, and sexual innuendo, and that combination helped “Three’s Company” absolutely dominate the airwaves every single time a new episode aired.
Years after the show has been off the air, but lives on in syndication, many old and new fans want to know what happened to the residents of Apartment #201. Let’s take a look at their characters, find out what happened to the shows main cast after the series ended, and then reveal some of the craziest, funniest, and just plain fun facts from the hugely successful TV series.
Suzanne Somers as Chrissy Snow
Suzanne Somers played the role of ditzy blonde Chrissy Snow. She was the catalyst for the show’s entire premise. After she made a crazy strong alcoholic punch, both Janet (Chrissy’s roommate) and Jack (a party guest) were knocked out and they ended up becoming roomies. Chrissy’s character was known for constantly becoming confused by everyday situations — often with comedic results. She also played the klutz and a stereotypical over-emotional female character. Read through fact #5 on our list and you’ll have a new appreciation for Somer’s role on the show.
Suzanne Somers, Now
“Three’s Company” launched Suzanne Somers into the stratosphere, so much so that she was able to sell millions of Thighmaster machines in the years that followed the TV series. But she didn’t just work on her leg muscles, she starred in “She’s the Sheriff” from 1987-1989 and then in the hugely popular show “Step by Step” which aired from 1991-1998. She has remained busy by hawking health-related products and beating breast cancer twice.
Joyce DeWitt as Janet Wood
Joyce DeWitt was the antithesis to Chrissy Snow. She played the brainy Janet Wood. She was the “reliable” roommate” who was constantly self-conscious about being less well-endowed than Chrissy. Despite her more uptight attitude, she was actually the one that convinced their landlord that Jack was gay, allowing them to live together. She also wasn’t scared of getting drunk with her roommates.
Joyce DeWitt, Now
While DeWitt didn’t find the same type of fame as Somers following the end of “Three’s Company,” she did star in some small-screen roles. She also went on to produce a special called, Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Three’s Company which debuted in 2003. DeWitt also starred in the off-Broadway hit “Miss Abigail’s Guide to Dating, Mating & Marriage.” She has a role in the upcoming Renaissance Man which is in post-production and debuts in late 2016.
Richard Kline As Larry Dallas
Larry Dallas was the stereotypical “buddy” of the main star. He was always chasing after women and willing to lie if it would get him… what do you call scoring in 70s and 80s TV parlay? He was a used car salesman who showed up on occasion to add a clever twist to some of the show’s naughtier episodes.
Richard Kline, Now
Following the end of the series, Richard Kline continued with his acting career, filling various roles on the small screen as well as the stage. He also became a well known director of theater and television and even set up his own actors workshop. His TV credits include everything from “Step By Step” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” to “Gilmore Girls” and “Judging Amy.”
Norman Fell As Stanley Roper
Fell played Stanley Roper, the original landlord and owner of the Hacienda Palms Apartments, where the series took place. He was married to Helen Roper. Roper and his wife had a love-hate relationship and we often found them often engaging in a bunch of hilarious bickering. Roper was deeply worried about money and keeping his apartments in tip-top shape. During his time on the show his character became known for snickering at the camera after telling a joke.
Norman Fell – Today
Normal Fell passed away on December 14, 1998. Before his death he landed many roles in TV and movies. His film credits include roles in The Naked Truth, The Boys, Catch-22, and many more. On the TV side he appeared in “Ellen,” “Matlock,” “Magnum P.I.,” “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” and various other TV shows. He worked until 1997 and passed away one year later. He also starred with Helen on the spin-off TV series “The Ropers” for one and a half seasons.
Don Knotts As Ralph Furley
Furley takes over as landlord of the apartment complex after his brother purchases it from Stanley Roper. Furley believes he’s a “ladies’ man” but he is almost never seen with a date or a lady by his side. He’s a shy guy who always seems to miss the bigger picture, allowing our stars to easily trick him at every twist and turn. He also casually cracks gay jokes at Jack’s expense. Eventually he grows close to Jack, finds out he isn’t gay, and overlooks that fact as they ultimately become close friends.
Don Knotts – Now
Don Knotts passed away in 2006 but not before spending nearly 50 years in the entertainment industry. His first role was in the TV series “Search For Tomorrow,” which aired in 1951. His last appearance was just before his death in the 2006 film, Air Buddies. Along the way he made many appearances including the role of a landlord in an episode of “That ‘70s Show,” and playing himself in an episode of the animated series “Johnny Bravo.” He also played Les Calhoun for four seasons of “Matlock.” He is most famous, though, for his role as Barney Fife on the hit TV series “The Andy Griffith Show.”
John Ritter as Jack Tripper
Rounding out our main cast was John Ritter, who played the role of Jack Tripper. From the moment the show started Tripper had to pretend he was gay, even though he was very clearly checking out every female who passed his way. He was often placed in various precarious situations because of his roommates and his snoopy landlords who were trying to catch him in a lie. Much like his roommates, Jack is a klutz and many of the laughs on the show were slapstick comedy-orientd. While he is a ladies man, Tripper is also a kind-hearted guy who strives to help his friends in their moments of need.
John Ritter – Now
Ritter jumped from “Three’s Company” to the spin-off show “Three’s a Crowd,” which only lasted one season. He then joined the cast of “Hooperman” from 1987-1989 and then “Hearts Afire” from 1992-1995. His next big hit was the ABC sitcom “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.” Sadly, he passed away unexpectedly in 2003 and the show changed its name to “8 Simple Rules,” but it failed to keep its Ritter-heavy fan base and rather quickly met its end. Ritter also did some voice work for “King of the Hill” where he played the character of Eugene Grandy. He also voiced “Clifford The Big Red Dog” for three years and played the role of Andrew Covington on the hit show “Felicity” for two years. Now that we’ve looked at the show’s biggest stars in the past and closer to the present, we wanted to give you a glimpse of the show’s most crazy facts. Here are 8 things you probably didn’t realize about Three’s Company. #5 is nuts.
Three’s Company Fact #1 – The Show Has A Musical Connection To Sesame Street
That incredibly infectious theme song for “Three’s Company” was created by the genius songwriter who also composed the “Sesame Street” and “The Electric Company” theme songs. His name is Joe Raposo. He didn’t sing the song though. Instead, the show’s producers tried to have the show’s stars sing the opening sequence. They were apparently so horrible that singing credits went to Ray Charles (not the one you are thinking of) and Julia Rinker.
Three’s Company Fact #2 – Jeffrey Tambor Played Three Different Characters
Landing a gig on a TV show is hard enough, but Jeffrey Tambor landed three roles — all for different characters on the same series. He started by playing super snobby neighbor Jeffrey P. Brookes III on “The Ropers” but then found success on “Three’s Company.” He joined the cast as a rich man named Winston Cromwell III, then he played Dr. Tom Miller, and finally he acted as Philip Green, a crazy dentist who was dumped by Terri.
Three’s Company Fact #3 – John Ritter Exposed Way More Than He Intended
John Ritter may have had the best story ever about a bungled TV scene. In March 2001, a female viewer pointed out after watching reruns of the show, that Ritter’s testicles briefly fall out of his shorts in one of the show’s scenes. Nickelodeon, who was airing the show in syndication, quickly cut out the very brief mistake. Later, Ritter would ask the network to air both the edited and unedited versions, stating, “I’ve requested that [Nickelodeon] air both versions, edited and unedited, because sometimes you feel like a nut, and sometimes you don’t.”
Three’s Company Fact #4 – Fell Didn’t Even Want To Make The Ropers
Fell didn’t want to leave the popular “Three’s Company” for his own spinoff but his TV wife, Audra Lindley, thought it would be a great opportunity. To convince him to leave, the show’s producers promised he could return if “The Ropers” lasted one year or less. The TV spin-off debuted with the second highest TV ratings in history but fell off during its second season when it was moved to Saturday nights. Fell wanted back on “Three’s Company” but his show was on for 1.5 years and the show’s producers loved Don Knotts in his the role.
Three’s Company Fact #5 – Suzanne Somers Was Added To The Cast Literally At The Last Minute
The show’s producers were having an incredibly hard time finding their final cast member. They had turned down such notable actresses as Loni Anderson and they were just one day away from production. Casting agents started going through audition footage for a second time the night before production was set to begin, when all of a sudden they discovered Somers’ tape. She met with the show’s team the day before filming was set to begin and the next day the show started shooting.
Three’s Company Fact #6 – Jason Ritter Appears In The Credits
The little boy that appears in the opening credits from Seasons 6 to 8 is none other than Jason Ritter, son of John Ritter. He was excited to see his dad and ran into the shot during filming. Ritter later explained, “I just walked into the shot and it made Joyce DeWitt laugh so they kept it in the opening credits. Jason Ritter in recent years has appeared in various TV shows including “Joan of Arcadia,” “The Event,” and “Parenthood.”
Three’s Company Fact #7 – Stanley Roper Was Based On A Real Guy
In attempting to find motivation for his character, actor Norman Fell turned to real life. He knew a guy in Philadelphia who he described as not being able to do anything right, from being with women to fixing things, to choosing the clothes he wore. “He thought he was the cat’s meow. He thought he was attractive, he liked his clothes. He thought people were looking at him because of how well-preserved he looked. He thought he was all things he’s not,” Fell explained.
Three’s Company Fact #8 – DeWitt And Ritter Didn’t Speak To Somers For 30 Years
Suzanne Somers left the show because she was making $30,00 per episode when John Ritter was earning $150,000. Following her rocky departure, Joyce DeWitt and John Ritter stopped talking to her. It was nearly 30 years later when DeWitt and Somers made up on Somers’ web show. Ritter and Somers made up about one month before he passed away. The next time you’re watching reruns of “Three’s Company,” just remember that this hugely successful and hilarious show was in many ways thrown together at the last minute and then duct-taped together as people made their exits. Despite a lot of quick decisions and mid-series changes, it has resonated with audiences for more than 30 years.
Third Time Was A Charm
The first “Three’s Company” pilot script was written by “M*A*S*H writer/producer Larry Gelbart. Ritter’s character for the original script was named David Bell and he was an aspiring filmmaker. A second unaired pilot was requested by ABC and was written by “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons” writer/producers Don Nicholl, Michael Ross, and Bernard West. The third pilot was picked up and the show premiered on March 15, 1977.
John Ritter Paid Homage To His Dad
Right from the very first episode, John Ritter decided to give his dad a shout out. Jack says: “Well, you know you have to learn to trot before you can gallop… who said that?” The moment got a big laugh and that was great since it was meant to honor Tex Ritter. It’s one of the many inside and subtle jokes in the popular TV series.
Suzanne Somers In A Wig
You know that famous opening credits moment when Jack looks at a brunette walking by and then he falls off his bike. It turns out the actress was Suzanne Somers wearing a wig. Between that fact and his own son showing up in the opening sequence, there really were some great inside jokes and moments for the show.
Who’s That Girl In The Ending Credits
While Suze Lanier-Bramlett failed to land the role of Chrissy after her pilot was not picked up, she ended up in the show’s closing credits for several seasons. You can see her tossing bread to seagulls at the beach. The show’s producers decided it wasn’t necessary to spend the money on a re-shoot when the show was first picked up.
Priscilla Barnes Was Horribly Miserable
The moment she was cast on the show and started filming, Priscilla Barnes knew it was a horrible fit. She admits to almost quitting on her first day of work. Instead, she stuck it out and acted like a professional. When asked why she hated the show, Barnes said the backstage atmosphere rubbed her the wrong way.
Larry Dallas Was Supposed To Disappear After One Episode
When Richard Kline was given the role of Larry Dallas it was supposed to be a one-time appearance. After the episode was filmed the show’s producers realized that he had great chemistry with John Ritter. They decided to make Dallas a recurring character. The popularity of the character eventually turned Kline into a cast member.
Heather Locklear Was Laughed Out Of The Audition Room
When Heather Locklear auditioned to replace Suzanne Somers she was running late and the heat caused her to sweat. She didn’t want to ruin her peach silk blouse so she put Kleenex under her armpits. She performed a hilarious scene in which nobody in the room laughed. After she closed the door to leave, the room burst into laughter. She quickly realized that the Kleenex used to stuff her bra had partially found its way out.
The Blue And Pink Scripts
At the start of season 5 there was a lot of animosity between Sommers and the show’s producers. They didn’t know if she would show up for filming so there was a blue script, which featured Chrissy and a pink script, which signaled that she wouldn’t be appearing in that episode. If she wasn’t on set many of her lines were given to Mr. Furley, played by Don Knotts.
The Ropers And Syndication
There was a shoutout to the spinoff show “The Ropers” when the series went into syndication. Two episodes from the series are featured in the syndication package. They include the Ropers pilot, and an episode that featured appearances from John Ritter, Joyce DeWitt, and Suzanne Somers.
The Show Was Based Off A 1970s British Hit
The concept for “Three’s Company” was taken from a British TV series called “Man About The House.” That series tells the story of Robin, Chris, and Jo, who all share a flat together. “Man About The House” was spun off into several other series’ as well, including Robin’s Nest and George & Mindy (Mr & Mrs Roper).
Producers Wanted A “Don Knotts Type Character”
Producers originally wanted to find an actor who could play a Don Knotts type character. After auditioning various people they realized the best person to play that role was the man himself. They reached out to Don Knotts and he eventually agreed to appear as a cast member on the shot. It turned out to be the perfect casting decision.
The Final Episode Didn’t Air Until The Start Of A New Season
Producers were excited to launch the new TV series “Three’s a Crowd” but they wanted to make sure it had a strong lead-in. The show aired right before “Three’s a Crowd” went on the air in 1984. The publicity stunt brought an audience to the show but it wasn’t enough to turn it into a smash hit.
Joyce DeWitt Insisted On Wearing Pantyhose
Actress Joyce DeWitt had a crazy obsession with pantyhose. Any time her bare legs were shown she would insist on putting a pair on for filming. Her commitment to hosiery became so well known that the company L’eggs offered her an endorsement deal for its popular brand.
Don Knotts Supported Suzanne Somers During Her Fight With The Studio
When Joyce and John were refusing to speak with Somers because of her battle for higher pay, Don Knotts jumped at the chance to support the actress. He had gone through a similar fight with the producers of “The Andy Griffith Show” and he understood that it could be lonely. During the filming of one scene he walked up to John and Joyce and said, “Excuse me, I’m going to go talk to Suzanne.”
Don Knotts Was Intimidated During His First Day On Set
Even though he was already a TV legend, Don Knotts was terrified during his first day on set. “The Andy Griffith Show” was filmed using a single camera format while “Three’s Company” used the newer three camera format. Knotts said his nerves subsided when he received a 10 minute standing ovation from the live studio audience when he made his first appearance on camera.
A Character From ‘The Graduate”?
In the movie “The Graduate,” Norman Fell was known for playing the overbearing landlord for Dustin Hoffman’s character. His Mr. McCleery character had threatened to evict Hoffman from the premises. He carried over that character for his role as Stanley Roper on “Three’s Company.”
Somers And The Phone Calls Fiasco
As she fought for better pay Chrissy’s role was reduced to short phone calls while she was “away” visiting family. Suzanne Somers would record the calls early in the morning or the day before the cast arrived on set. Many of the phone calls were cut after the TV series went into syndication. It was definitely a hostile work environment for much of season five.
The Only Cast Member To Appear In Every Episode
Obviously Suzanne Somers didn’t appear in every episode and neither did Joyce. The only person to show up for every single episode was its biggest star — John Ritter. He never simply appeared on the phone or skipped out of days of filming for any reason. His star definitely shone brightest throughout the entire TV series.
The $100 Beach Shot
The opening credits were filmed in haste which led producers to find unique ways to film. They ended up paying a Venice shop-owner $100 to use his roof for filming. You can see that rooftop shot as Jack Tripper (John Ritter) is riding his bike. The opening sequence was filmed on Venice Beach.
The Roper’s Apartment Complex Is Real
The exterior shots of the Roper’s apartment is actually a real place. The real complex is located in Santa Monica, California. Producers for the show had to get permission to film the outside of the building — permission which the owner was happy to grant. Now his building is immortalized by TV.
The Waltons Connection
Listen closely at the end of the second episode of “Three’s Company” during the first season. You will hear Jack say, “Goodnight, John Boy.” It was meant to be a directly call out to John Ritter’s former performance as Reverend Fordwick on the hit family series, “The Waltons.”
Norman Fell And A Joke
Norman Fell liked to ham it up for the cameras. Whenever he said a particularly funny or witty line, he would look directly into the camera and then let out a laugh of his own. This was one guy who loved his work and wasn’t afraid to let everyone watching at home know it. Somehow he made it feel authentic.
Billy Crystal Auditioned For The Role Of Jack
Before John Ritter landed his iconic role it was Billy Crystal who wanted to snag the part. He auditioned to play Jack but was ultimately looked over. It worked out for both men who ended up going on to star in their own popular TV shows and movies. It would have been a very different show with Billy Crystal in the leading role.
The Don Knotts and Roper Clothing Audition
Don Knotts showed up ready to rock out the role of Mr. Furley. The actor said he would never wear the crazy outfits his character chose — however, he did admit to dressing up like he believed Mr. Furley would dress when he auditioned for the role. On a more important note — someone actually made Don Knotts audition for a role in a comedy series? Blasphemy!
A Recycled Audience
A handful of audience shots are used to various episodes and it turns out the same shots were used on repeat. It was a simple way to edit in shots with the actual footage from the show without spending a lot of time and money on audience shots. Pay close attention and you will likely notice the stock footage.
The DVD Rush
When John Ritter suddenly passed away the studio rushed to make sure the “Three’s Company” DVD collection would go to market and capitalize on his surprising and sudden death. He had recently regained much of his former popularity by starring in the hit TV series “8 Simple Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter.
Loni Anderson Auditioned For A Role
Actress Loni Anderson said after the show started that not only did she audition, but she also rocked her audition. Sadly, she was overlooked for the part and moved on with her life. We don’t know if she would have been a great fit but it would have been interested to watch.
We talked previously about Somers leaving the show over money. It was a considerable sum. John Ritter was making $150,000 per episode and she wanted the same salary. When the studio refused and she wouldn’t let up on the issue, she was written out of the show. Pay inequality is still a huge issue in Hollywood decades’ later.
Priscilla Barnes Had Hair That Was Too Blonde
Nurse Terri Alden was “too blonde” at times. Actress Priscilla Barnes’ character replaced Cindy on the show. Apparently, the show’s producers didn’t want her to be overly blonde. To ensure that fact she would “be called up to the office” and told her hair was becoming too blond, the actress explained.
Suzanne Somers May Have Lied About Her Age
It has long been rumored that Suzanne Somers lied about her age. She apparently said she had her son when she was 17 (he was 11 at the time of her claim). However, she claimed to be 28 in 1974-1975. She was born in 1946 so none of the math ended adding up. Not that we care but it makes for an interested story if it’s true.