‘Three’s Company’ Actor Blames Suzanne Somers’ Husband for Her Termination
It’s hard to imagine a TV show like Three’s Company getting picked up today. But, for different reasons, it was even harder to imagine in 1977, when ABC aired a sitcom about a man who pretends to be gay so that he can move in with two female roommates.
There was, of course, controversy. The National Religious Broadcasters group was against the show. Despite its somewhat racy (for the 1970s) premise, the show was a huge hit. The cast is still amazed at the impact they had on viewers.
‘Three’s Company’ was unprecedentedly popular
The show was considered ‘sexy’ for the time. Suzanne Somers and Joyce DeWitt played Jack Tripper’s two nice looking female roommates. Jack Tripper himself was played by the late, great John Ritter, who brought his own brand of comedy to the role.
The premise only sparked controversy because Ritter’s character was pretending to be gay, when LBGTQ people had little to no visibility in the mainstream media. But the characters never got together, in fact just the opposite. The three roommates were close friends, not lovers.
According to Ritter, the characters were actually very moral. “As sexy as it was, it was fairly moral. Those three roommates were very loyal, compassionate and most of the time considerate good friends.” The characters worked as good friends because Ritter, Somers, and DeWitt were friends.
They enjoyed themselves on set, and it came out on screen. Fans loved it. It became one of ABC’s most-watched shows. Somers told Closer Weekly that she’s still amazed at the number of viewers the show had. “Close to half the people in America who were watching TV were watching Three’s Company.”
Suzanne Somers overplayed her hand in negotiations
Somers may have been amazed at how popular her show was, but she misjudged how important she was to the show, and how important the show was to the network. Or, at least, her management did. In 1980, three years after the show first aired, Somers asked for more money. When the network said no, Somers started threatening to quit. The network took her up on it, and fired her.
According to her costar Richard Kline, who played the neighbor Larry, Somers’ husband was to blame for the whole ordeal. He told Closer Weekly that “Her management, better known as her husband, Alan Hamel, played the wrong hand in negotiations.” The network brought on two new roommates to try and replace Somers and DeWitt, but it was a no-go. Three’s Company was tragically canceled much too soon.
The cast of ‘Three’s Company’ is still close
The show may have ended, but the relationships between the cast didn’t. After all, it was their chemistry that made Three’s Company so engaging. Their relationships continue to this day. Although Ritter tragically passed away in 2003 due to a sudden health condition, his cast members still get together, and they still remember him fondly. According to DeWitt, “John was a great friend, an extraordinarily talented actor and amazingly good at comedy.”
Kline says that still sees the other actors from time to time. “I did a guest spot on Step by Step with Suzanne, and we had a great reunion.” He also sees DeWitt at Comic Con, where they go to meet and greet fans. The show may have had a short run many decades ago, but fans still love it. DeWitt claims that people hug her and even cry when they meet her.
It’s a testament to how great the show was that it left such a lasting impression in such a short time. In the age of reboots, networks should give Three’s Company serious re-consideration.