You know that you tuned in to see who was knockin’ on the door of Three’s Company every week and we did too! Featuring an incredible cast with magical onscreen chemistry and some hilarious antics, the show was a once-in-a-lifetime find and still is to this day. Names like John Ritter, Joyce DeWitt, Don Knotts, Suzanne Somers, and more found their stardom on this everlasting sitcom, but what happened to them after the show? Let’s take a look!
Mr. Roper, A Joker
Actor Norman Fell played the original landlord character of Stanley Roper, married to wife Helen. As the stereotypical persnickety apartment owner, Roper was always concerned with the appearance of the apartments and receiving the rent on time. Mr. Roper is also known for being incredibly cheap and at one point in the series the trio calls him “the cheapest man alive.”
When he isn’t doting on Jack, Janet, and Chrissy, he is often heard bickering with his wife, who pesters Stanley for romance although he is too clueless or uninterested to notice. Fell’s character is often known for breaking the fourth wall by looking directly at the camera after cracking a joke or snide remark.
The Real Stanley Roper
Seeking inspiration for his silly character, Fell decided to imitate a man he had actually come across in real life. Describing the poor individual as someone who had the wrong impression of himself, Norman explained why he thought that he was so great for the character.
“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 of the poor sap.
Norman Never “Fell” Off The Map
As a huge piece of the Three’s Company puzzle (until he was replaced by Don Knotts) Norman Fell brought both a sense of humor and seriousness to the show. Following Three’s Company, Fell went on to appear in several TV shows like The Naked Truth, The Boys, Catch-22, Matlock, Magnum P.I. and several others.
A great actor and hard worker, Norman passed away just one year after his retirement from acting in 1998 and is deeply missed.
Chrissy Snow Steals The Show
Suzanne Somers’ character Chrissy Snow was responsible for the main characters first meeting each other. After spiking the punch at the first party they attended together Chrissy, Janet, and Jack became fast friends.
With her ditzy, adorable comedic relief, Chrissy became the beloved klutzy babe of the ’70s. As Chrissy, Suzanne was an instant audience favorite and became a sex symbol as a result of being on the show.
Chrissy’s Disappearing Act
After finding out that John was making $150,000 an episode, Somers was not nearly happy with her $30,000 an episode. Complaining to and begging producers to match their pay, they refused time and time again which eventually led to the end of Chrissy. What’s even worse than this drama was that, due to the difference in pay, John and Joyce both stopped talking to Suzanne and the silence lasted for 30 years.
This feud got so intense that Somers would go in before the cast arrived and record her voice for the phone calls her character was making when she was supposedly “visiting family.”
Suzanne Somers Takes Off
After her time on Three’s Company, Suzanne Somers reached worldwide fame as the face of the Thighmaster exercise equipment and several TV and movie roles. Starring in the late ’80s sitcom She’s The Sheriff, Somers played a recent widow promoted to a sheriff position that was previously held by her late husband.
After that show stopped airing, Somers then moved on to star as the hot mama in Step By Step, which aired for seven successful years and caused America to fall in love with her all over again. Somers can now be found promoting health-related products and has successfully beat breast cancer two times!
Janet Wood Is Misunderstood
As the opposite of the ditzy blonde, Joyce DeWitt played the role of Janet. Janet was the intelligent, mature, and reliable roommate who always struggled with feeling less than her best friend and roommate Chrissy. Something that only real fans might know is that despite her apprehensive nature, Janet was the one that convinced their landlord that Jack was gay in order for him to live in the apartment.
Because of her more responsible nature, she often reprimands Jack for his antics whenever he finds himself in trouble. Janet’s character is from Indiana and is of Italian descent, and she moved to Los Angeles where she lived and worked as a florist.
Joyce DeWitt Leads A Productive Life
Although Joyce did not take the same lane that Somers did, the actress went on to star in the off-Broadway hit Miss Abigail’s Guide to Dating, Mating & Marriage and was featured in Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Three’s Company that aired in 2003. More recently, DeWitt has taken up a featured role in the film Renaissance Man, which came out in 2016.
Like her character, Joyce DeWitt also hails from Indiana and her mother is of Italian descent. In addition to acting, DeWitt has involved herself in charity work, participating in events that help relieve hunger and homelessness.
The Ladies Found Jack In A Bathtub
As the favorite character Jack Tripper, John Ritter was the ultimate catch in the famous trio; even when pretending to be gay around the landlord. Constantly trying to catch him in the lie, Jack was always put in hilarious situations with his roommates and their friends that would test his ability to pull off the gay persona he was expected to play.
He was also quite klutz-like and that really brought so much comedic relief to the serious moments of the show; you could not help but love him!
John Ritter Becomes A TV Dad
With a wildly successful Hollywood career after the end of Three’s Company, John Ritter went on to play several roles in shows like the spin-off Three’s A Crowd, Hearts Afire, and his greatest role since the show in 8 Simple Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter. Playing the stereotypical overbearing father of crazy teenage daughters, John was the ultimate loving dad that usually embarrasses you and it was just fantastic.
Unfortunately, we lost Ritter in 2003, but the world will never forget him as both Jack Tripper and lovable sitcom father Paul Hennessy.
Ralph Furley: The Perfect Landlord Replacement
Hilarious throughout the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s decades, actor Don Knotts was a genius replacement for the landlord in his role as Ralph Furley. The comedic brilliance that stemmed from his wannabe playboy character always brought the audience joy as Furley never seemed to be accompanied by any women—ever.
As the landlord we wish we all had, Furley was the gullible, impressionable character that constantly fell for Jack, Chrissy and Janet’s tricks and never saw it coming. Even though they originally lied about Jack’s romantic preference, the characters eventually become friends and overlook the fact that he’s not gay.
A “Don Knotts Type Character”
The actors who played Stanley and Helen Roper left Three’s Company to star in their own (short-lived) spin-off series, and their former show needed a new landlord. As huge fans of the actor, producers of Three’s Company originally set out to find an actor like Don Knotts until they realized that there was only one.
After reaching out to the comedic actor, he agreed to appear as Furley and they never looked back.
The Legendary Don Knotts
Before passing away in 2006, Knotts had a successful 50-year career in Hollywood with huge roles in shows like Johnny Bravo, Matlock and most famously, The Andy Griffith Show.
From his first role in the ’50s TV show Search For Tomorrow, to his last in the 2006 film Air Buddies, Knotts always brought the world joy with his hilarious facial expressions, energy, and incredible timing.
The Blue And Pink Scripts
The producers of Three’s Company used color-coded scripts. Talk about awkward… there was so much animosity between Somers and the producers that by season 5, they actually color-coded the scripts based on Chrissy’s presence.
Blue signified that Chrissy was present in the scene and pink meant she would not be on set so as to keep Knotts, Ritter, and DeWitt prepared for the scenes.
Larry Dallas: Ladies Man
The typical raunchy best friend of Jack, Larry Dallas—who was played by Richard Kline—was a playboy and a used car salesman that always wanted to sweet-talk the ladies. Although controversial, Kline’s character mixed up the scenes with carnal banter; most times unwanted. As the trio’s upstairs neighbor, Larry was only supposed to appear in one episode but was such a hit, he became a regular fixture on the show.
As Jack’s best friend, he often found himself owing money to Jack and also used Jack’s name to pick up women for one-night stands. Aside from Jack, Larry Dallas is the only character to appear on Three’s Company and both of its spin-off shows.
Richard Kline Breaks Out On Broadway
After the show’s end, Kline went on to fill small screen roles on Step By Step, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and even Gilmore Girls. Remaining within the Hollywood realm, Kline also got into directing both television shows and theater, even appearing in the Broadway show Wicked in 2010. Kline actually got his start in theater in the early ’70s with the Lincoln Center Repertory Company, performing in plays such as Love’s Labour’s Lost and Death of a Salesman. He is also a classically trained singer and made his debut on Broadway in 1990 with the musical City of Angels.
Don Knotts Sided With Somers
Everyone thought Don Knotts seemed like he would be a good guy off-screen, and he was. When the whole Suzanne Somers feud blew up and divided the cast members, Don sided with the klutzy beauty after experiencing something similar happen to him on The Andy Griffith Show.
Claiming that he knew how lonely it could be in such a scenario, Knotts even became so loyal that he once said to John and Joyce, “Excuse me, I’m going to talk to Suzanne.”
From Three’s Company To Sesame Street
Our first fun fact is that songwriter Joe Raposo, responsible for Sesame Street and The Electric Company’s theme songs, also created the iconic Three’s Company intro jingle that we still cannot get out of our heads.
Originally, the vocals were supposed to be delivered by the star cast, but to due lack of choral talent on their end, the theme song was carried out by singers Ray Charles (not THE Ray Charles) and Julia Rinker.
A Last Minute Decision
In a last-minute decision, Suzanne Somers was actually chosen as Chrissy a day before the show taped its third and final pilot episode. After passing on actress Loni Anderson and a few other choices, producers could not make up their minds as to who to cast in Chrissy’s role until they came across a tape of Suzanne on the Tonight Show.
She was born to play the role and they knew it.
Jeffrey Tambor: A Man Of Many Names
Did you know that actor Jeffrey Tambor, most famously known in later years for being the face of Sabra and Oscar Bluth in the hit series Arrested Development as well as Maura Pfefferman on Transparent, appeared in three different roles during the series?
Starting out as rich playboy Winston Cromwell III, Tambor then morphed into Dr. Tom Miller and eventually became the crazy dentist Phillip Green who got dumped by Terri.
John Ritter Gets Exposed
As the hilarious genius that he was, John Ritter really “evened” the playing field after a female viewer pointed out one of Ritter’s errors while watching reruns of the show. Revealing that Ritter’s shorts had left him exposed, Nickelodeon cut out the brief mistake while the show aired in syndication on the station.
However, Ritter formally requested that they air both versions of the scene because “sometimes you feel like a nut, and sometimes you don’t.” Good one, Ritter!
Norman Fell Was Reluctant
As the spin-off of Three’s Company, The Ropers was supposed to be Norman Fell’s big break but not even he wanted to leave the iconic show to star in it. TV wife Audra Lindley eventually convinced the actor to do the series and as a stipulation, the network agreed to allow Fell’s return to Three’s Company if the program lasted less than a year.
Unfortunately for Fell, by the time the series ended, the world and the producers loved Knotts as Furley too much to let Norman return.
Jason Ritter Makes His Three’s Company Debut
The handsome actor Jason Ritter, son of John Ritter, was featured in the opening credits of seasons 6 through 8. After getting so excited to see his father on set, the producers decided to keep Jason in the shot since it made DeWitt laugh. You can see him here, with his back to the camera.
Jason has starred in several TV shows recently like Joan of Arcadia, The Event and most famously, Parenthood.
Third Time’s The Charm
There were actually three attempts at the script for Three’s Company until the show came to fruition. Originally written by M*A*S*H writer and producer, Larry Gelbart, Tripper was meant to be an aspiring filmmaker but it did not quite “take.”
The second try was written by All In The Family and The Jeffersons producers Don Nicholl, Michael Ross, and Bernard West but was still a miss. Finally, the third and final pilot was picked up and the show made its debut on March 15, 1977.
An Homage To Tex Ritter
John Ritter’s dad was Tex Ritter, the famous country music singer and actor. Being the family man that he was, John often referenced his father Tex in the script with sayings like, “Well, you know you have to learn to trot before you can gallop… who said that?”
John was so happy to see the positive reaction to the quote as it left the audience chuckling, successfully honoring his father and role model, Tex Ritter.
During the opening credits, fans remember and love the moment when Jack catches a glimpse of beach babe strolling down the street. The scene causes him to derail from the road and fall off of his bike in laughter.
But, fans should know who this “stranger” really is. The hottie is actually Suzanne Somers in a brunette wig! The producers sure had fun with the opening credits on this show.
They’ll Never Notice
After attempting to land the role of Chrissy and being passed over, actress Suze Lanier-Bramlett landed the closing credits in the sitcom tossing bread at the seagulls.
Producers figured it wasn’t necessary to spend money to re-shoot the scene, so they just kept it. It’s doubtful many people could even tell who she was. Don’t worry though, Lanier-Bramlett went on to have a successful career without Three’s Company.
Enter Terri Alden
After Somers’ rather public exit from the show, producers decided to replace her with another blonde in an attempt to keep up the show’s chemistry. Priscilla Barnes seemed to be the perfect solution, as she was young, blonde, and attractive, just like her predecessor. Priscilla was brought on to play Terri Alden, a nurse at a local hospital who moves in to the apartment during the sixth season of the show.
Unlike the blonde before her though, the writers decided to make Terri a “smart blonde” and “woman with brains”. Not everything was smooth sailing on the show for Priscilla though, as we’ll see later.
That’s Not The Last You’ve Seen Of Larry Dallas
Initially, the character of Larry Dallas was supposed to only be a one-time appearance, but after seeing the onscreen chemistry between Ritter and Kline, producers decided to keep him on and eventually make him part of the core cast.
It’s hard to imagine the show without Larry’s ridiculous womanizing and all the predicaments he and Jack got into throughout the series.
Laughed Out Of The Room!
Starlet Heather Locklear auditioned to replace Somers after the paycheck drama but ended up getting laughed out of the room! Apparently, the beauty was running late to the meeting and decided to dab her armpits with tissue so as not to ruin her silk blouse, but throughout the progression of her scene, the Kleenex appeared!
After performing a hilarious scene in which she received no laughs, the minute she closed the door behind her the room busted out in laughter at the sight of her seemingly “stuffed” bra.
Miserable Miss Barnes
Even though she played it off while on screen, actress Priscilla Barnes was almost immediately miserable on the cast of Three’s Company. Apparently, from the first episode filming, she knew that it wasn’t a good “fit” based on the backstage atmosphere that seemed to rub her the wrong way.
In the E! True Hollywood Story that focused on the iconic tv show, Barnes went as far as to call her time on the show the “three worst years of [her] life.” Yikes!
Priscilla After Three’s Company
While her time on Three’s Company might not have been her favorite experience, Priscilla was determined to continue acting after the show went off the air. She went on to have a role in the James Bond film Licence To Kill, as well as The Devil’s Rejects and Disaster Wars: Earthquake vs Tsunami.
In 2014 she thrilled fans by making a television come-back when she appeared on Jane The Virgin as Magda.
The Ropers In Syndication
The previously mentioned spin-off show The Ropers actually went into syndication despite its short airtime (from March 13, 1979, to May 22, 1980). However, only two of the episodes are featured: The pilot and an episode featuring Ritter, DeWitt, and Somers.
Here’s a fun fact about the show: the opening credits alternate between Audra Lindley and Norman Fell being credited first. This is what they did with Three’s Company as well.
Based On The Brits
As many shows are, Three’s Company was actually inspired by a British TV sitcom called Man About The House. Although the premise is not identical, the British version displayed three roommates sharing a flat together; two girls and a man. It starred Richard O’Sullivan, Paula Wilcox, Yootha Joyce, Sally Thomsett, and Brian Murphy.
The show has remained popular; in 2004, it placed 69th in a poll to find Britain’s Best Sitcom.
Don Knotts Was Intimidated?
Although Knotts was clearly a successful and established actor prior to the filming of Three’s Company, the man found himself intimidated on his first day on set. Using only one camera on The Andy Griffith Show, Knotts was not used to the newer filming approach with three cameras when first starting out.
Apparently, the comic’s nerves subsided after receiving a 10-minute standing ovation when making his first appearance on camera.
A Character From The Graduate?
Do you recognize Norman Fell as a landlord from a popular film? That’s right, Norman played Dustin Hoffman’s landlord in the epic movie The Graduate. Playing a similarly anal character on Three’s Company, Fell transferred the roles’ similarities.
The film, directed by Mike Nichols, was released in the U.S. on December 21, 1967. It received seven nominations at the 40th Academy Awards and won for Best Director.
The Only Cast Member To Appear In Every Episode
As the sitcom’s star, Jack Tripper was the only character to ever appear in every single episode of the series. There was apparently never a day where the actor was featured over the phone or missed a shooting – not for any reason at all.
In case you were counting, that’s 172 episodes in total and a long stretch to go without missing a day of filming. We miss you, John!
The $100 Beach Shot
Considering the opening credits had to be filmed rather quickly, due to the last minute casting, producers paid a Venice shop-owner $100 to shoot the scene for the opening credits.
The scene, played to the iconic “Come and Knock On Our Door” theme song, featured John Ritter riding his bike down the Venice boardwalk. We already told you the secret identity of the brunette woman who nearly causes him to wipe out!
The Hacienda Palms Was Real
A lot of fans do not know that they can actually visit the Hacienda Palms in real life! Although the Ropers won’t be there to greet them, the Spanish-style apartment complex shots were real although they were filmed in Santa Monica, California, and not in San Diego.
After asking permission to immortalize the apartment building complex from the owner, the producers used the shots whenever they featured the relationship between the Ropers.
The Waltons Connection
If you listen closely to the end of the second episode of Three’s Company during the first season, you will hear Jack say, “Goodnight, John Boy.” This quote was intended to call out to John Ritter’s former performance as Reverend Fordwick on the hit family series, The Waltons.
He appeared in 18 episodes of The Waltons before he left the show for his starring role on Three’s Company.
A Contagious Smile
We all love actors that not only love what they do but enjoy entertaining the audience. Norman Fell was one of those rare actors that actually displayed pure joy when he would deliver his sarcastic lines on Three’s Company by making direct eye contact with the camera.
One of the show’s producers, George Sunga, spoke about it in an interview. “You know, (Norman Fell) introduced us to breaking the fourth wall,” the “Three’s Company. That isn’t done too often. Where he would look directly into the camera and give a facial expression that could only boost, you know, the reaction.”
Billy Crystal Wanted Some Company
Imagine what the sitcom would have become if Billy Crystal landed the role of Jack Tripper. The comedian originally auditioned for the role but was overlooked and thank goodness, because we cannot imagine anyone but John Ritter as Jack!
Crystal landed a role in the 1970s sitcom Soap instead. The series aired from 1977 to 1981, and was also on ABC. And of course, he went on to have a successful career on the big screen.
The Clothing Audition
Although the actor wasn’t fond of the outrageous outfits that his character Furley rocked, Don Knotts fessed up to dressing for the part when auditioning for the role originally! Although the producers had already formally requested for Knotts to play Furley, they still had him audition for the role.
“They just decided they wanted me,” he later said. “Norman Fell was playing the landlord. They put him and the actor who played his wife in a series of their own. And they needed a new landlord so they borrowed me.”
Loni Anderson Takes a Shot
Actress Loni Anderson was another person who auditioned for the role of Chrissy in the series. Like all the others except for Suzanne Somers, she was overlooked, although she claims that she rocked it.
Even though she and Somers have a similar look, we cannot imagine anyone but Suzanne playing Chrissy. Today, Anderson is best known for her role as the receptionist Jennifer Marlowe on WKRP in Cincinnati.
Suzanne Somers And John Ritter Reconciled In Later Years
Even now, pay inequality exists in Hollywood and was the sole reason that Suzanne Somers left the sitcom, as we mentioned before. Although Ritter was a key role on the show, and the star never missed an episode, Ritter made a significant amount more than the actress and she would not stand for it.
Fortunately, Suzanne and John made up before his tragic passing. After his death, she said “I’m so sad for the family. We lost a good one, it was so unfinished”.