Three's Company is 40 years old

‘Three’s Company’ Cast Celebrates 40th Anniversary — Without Suzanne Somers

Three’s Company just turned the big 4-0, but one of its biggest stars was a no-show. The iconic ’70s sitcom, which made its debut on March 15, 1977, on ABC, is celebrating its 40th anniversary. However, a recent Three’s Company cast reunion didn’t include one of the show’s biggest stars.

Antenna TV hosted the Three’s Company cast reunion, which featured Joyce DeWitt (Janet), Richard Kline (Larry), Priscilla Barnes (Terry), and Jenilee Harrison (Cindy) talking about the classic comedy series’ eight-season run. But something — or, make that, someone — was definitely missing. Sadly, Three’s Company star John Ritter passed away in 2003, but fellow cast mate Suzanne Somers was also missing from the reunion.

Three’s Company aired on ABC from 1977 until 1984 and was one of the network’s top-rated sitcoms. The show originally starred Ritter, Somers, and DeWitt as platonic roommates who pretended that Ritter’s character, Jack Tripper, was gay so they could rent a Santa Monica apartment together from a strict landlord (Norman Fell).

But five seasons in, Suzanne Somers, who played ditzy character Chrissy Snow on the series, was replaced by Jenilee Harrison (and later by Priscilla Barnes) over a salary dispute. Ritter, who won an Emmy for his role as Jack Tripper, was reportedly paid five times the salary of his female Three’s Company co-stars. Somers took issue with the unfair pay and asked for a 500 percent pay increase, from $30,000 a week to $150,000, to put her in line with Ritter’s weekly salary.

Somers later revealed to Marie Claire magazine that she was fired from the show after confronting producers.

“I was fired from [Three’s Company] because I said, ‘I’d like you to pay me what you’re paying the men,” Somers told the magazine.

“But they wanted to make it an example so that no other female could ever get that uppity on television… A producer said to the ABC people, ‘She’s a blonde. I trained her, I’ll train another one,’ like I was some sort of seal.”

Somers, who went on to make millions peddling Thigh Master and other products from her beauty and health empire, told CNBC that she was blacklisted from the entertainment industry after her 1981 firing from Three’s Company.

“Here I was on the number one show and I couldn’t even get an interview because I was considered trouble,” Somers told CNBC.

The actress later went on to star in another successful ABC comedy, Step By Step.

While Somers’ exit from Three’s Company caused a rift in her friendships with Ritter and DeWitt, years later, the actress made amends with her longtime female co-star.

“I thought, you know, everybody’s gone from that show. John [Ritter] is dead, Norman [Fell] is dead… the producers are all dead,” Somers said. “It’s just me and Joyce, and we shared a moment in time that will never be again.”

Although she never went back to the show, Somers did recently spark an idea for a Three’s Company spinoff. In an interview with Closer, Somers said she would love to see a reboot of the show featuring her character and Ritter’s real-life son.

“I said to my husband the other day, ‘You know what would make a great sitcom? If Chrissy Snow’s son was Jason Ritter!'” Somers told the magazine. “It would mean that ultimately, Jack [John Ritter’s character] and Chrissy got married and they had Jason. It is the first acting idea I’ve had that has made my heart flutter.”

While Somers didn’t participate in the Three’s Company reunion, she was still a big part of the 40th-anniversary festivities. In honor of Three’s Company’s milestone birthday, Antenna TV aired a Three’s Company “40th Anniversary Rendezvous,” which consisted of 40 hours of the show — a whopping 72 episodes. If you think that’s overkill, keep in mind that Three’s Company has a special place in the classic cable network’s history.

Three’s Company was the first program Antenna TV acquired when we launched in 2011,” Antenna TV president Sean Compton told Fox 43 in a statement. “It was one of those Fred Silverman shows that had perfect writing and casting. Even with landlord and roommate cast changes the show thrived and was one of television’s greatest sitcoms of all time.”

Take a look at the video below to see the 40th-anniversary reunion of the Three’s Company cast.

[Featured Image by ABC Television/Getty Images]