‘Three’s Company’: Suzanne Somers Got Fired After Being Denied a $150K Per Episode Salary

Suzanne Somers is a fitness guru, actor, and pop culture personality who has been in the spotlight for well over forty years. Somers, who is best known these days for her series of popular self-help books, originally rose to fame on the hit TV show Three’s Company. The show, which also starred John Ritter, was a mainstay in the late ’70s and early ’80s programming and catapulted Somers to the forefront of popular consciousness. In spite of her popularity on the show, Somers ended up leaving well before the series finale — for a somewhat surprising reason. 

Suzanne Somers smiling, seated in front of a blurred audience
Suzanne Somers | Zach Pagano/Getty Images

When did ‘Three’s Company’ run on television?

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Three’s Company debuted on television in 1977. Based on a popular British sitcom, Three’s Company told the story of three single roommates who live and work in California — Janet Wood, played by Joyce DeWitt, Chrissy Snow, played by Suzanne Somers, and Jack Tripper, played by John Ritter. The trio ends up in almost-constant trouble, as they manage to find themselves in escapades relating to their living situation.

In short order, Three’s Company became one of the most popular shows on television, ultimately running until 1984. It spawned a series of spinoffs and launched the careers of multiple actors, including, most notably, John Ritter and Suzanne Somers. 

Suzanne Somers became famous for her work on ‘Three’s Company’

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Suzanne Somers was born in California in 1946. She got into acting at a relatively early age, appearing in a series of small roles in movies and television shows. Her first big breakout role was in Three’s Company, where she played the part of Chrissy Snow, a ditzy secretary, to utter perfection. Although the character of Chrissy was a stereotypical one in many ways, Somers played the role of a “dumb blonde” well, and audiences all over the world loved the humor that she brought to the show.

Her starring role in Three’s Company led to a series of other jobs and assignments, and by the early ’80s, Somers was a cover girl for multiple magazines. In fact, Somers is widely credited with helping to launch Three’s Company to worldwide popularity, and to this day, it remains her best known and most popular television show. Still, by the fifth season, Somers was getting into hot water with showrunners, and her time on the series would prove to be limited. 

Why did Suzanne Somers get fired from ‘Three’s Company’?

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By the beginning of 1980, Suzanne Somers was a household name, and Three’s Company was going strong on television. Somers decided to leverage her popularity with fans to try to get a salary that was equal to the one being paid to John Ritter. As Somers later described, “I’m looking around and thinking, ‘Why are all the men … making 10 times more?’ I said to John and Joyce … ‘I’m going to ask for big money and a piece of the back end and if you two back me up … we’ll all get it, so I’ll be the patsy.'”

According to The Hollywood Reporter, “when it came time for fifth-season negotiations in 1980, Somers asked for a pay hike from $30,000 an episode to $150,000, equal to what her Three’s Company co-star John Ritter was receiving and comparable to salaries M*A*S*H*‘s Alan Alda and All in the Family’s Carroll O’Connor were being paid on lower-rated shows.” While Somers reportedly received a small raise of $5,000, it wasn’t nearly the pay increase that she was hoping for, and she boycotted the network, which led to her eventually being let go from the series entirely. 

Still, Somers was able to remain in the spotlight in the years after she left Three’s Company, earning acclaim as a fitness and lifestyle guru, as well as a bestselling author.