Before Kaley Cuoco hit it big on The Big Bang Theory, she was already a sitcom veteran. Cuoco spent three seasons playing Bridget on 8 Simple Rules, starting when she was just a teenager. She starred opposite John Ritter on the program before Ritter’s untimely death at the beginning of the show’s second season.
Ritter, was of course, a sitcom veteran himself, starring on the classic Three’s Company in the late 1970s and early 1980s. So when 8 Simple Rules went on the air in 2002, it was not long before the show decided to take a look back at Ritter’s iconic character, Jack Tripper. The show produced a spot-on parody of Three’s Company as part of a dream sequence.
Anyone who is old enough to remember the original Three’s Company, or has seen its episodes in late-night reruns, will notice the small details that make the parody successful. Ritter is a parody of Mr. Roper and his 8 Simple Rules wife Katey Segal the gaudily-dressed Mrs. Roper. The cast nails it, from Amy Davidson’s coughing Janet Wood to Cuoco’s snorting laugh as Chrissy Snow.
As successful as the parody starring Kaley Cuoco (et al), turned out to be, using Ritter’s on-air children was plan B for the writers. Joyce DeWitt and Suzanne Somers, Ritter’s original Three’s Company co-stars, talked about the show on Somers’ 2012 web series. DeWitt and Somers were approached to appear in the dream sequence, but Somers did not want to do it and DeWitt was not a fan of the first script.
The parody with Kaley Cuoco and the rest of the 8 Simple Rules cast also had a spot for Ritter’s son on the series, Martin Spanjers, who appeared as Larry. The clip even ends with a big misunderstanding. Check it out below.
It has been more than a decade since Ritter passed, but he remains special to Kaley. She posted pictures on Instagram in remembrance on the tenth anniversary of his death. In October, 2014, when Cuoco received her star on the walk of fame, she asked for a special spot: as close as possible to her former TV dad.
“They asked if I had a preference and I said, ‘Wow, if I had any dream it would be near John Ritter’s [star]. I’m going to go find it after this and give it a big kiss.”
There is another interesting connection between Cuoco and Three’s Company. Suzanne Somers was fired from her role as Chrissy Snow, at least in part, because she demanded to be paid as much money as her male co-star. Several decades later, Cuoco entered contract negotiations with her fellow Big Bang Theory actors and came out equally paid, and well-paid, like the female stars of Friends and Mad About You before her.