Throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, Three’s Company was an incredibly popular sitcom that helped boost the celebrity status of the stars John Ritter, Suzanne Somers, and Joyce Dewitt. The show centered around three roommates, Chrissy, Janet, and Jack, and their daily lives sharing an apartment in Santa Monica.
Fans immediately fell in love with the show and its characters. The unconventional plot and comedic moments got viewers hooked. However, things weren’t all dandy behind the scenes. The cast was not close; there were rivalries, contract disputes, drama, and a wage gap issue in full force.
Today, we’re going to take a look back at the behind-the-scenes drama that took place on the set of Three’s Company.
Loni Anderson Auditioned for the Role of Chrissy
Actress Loni Anderson actually auditioned for the part of Chrissy on Three’s Company but ultimately lost the role to Suzanne Somers, as we know. However, it wasn’t such a devastating blow to Anderson. It seemed like everything played out just the way it was supposed to…
Anderson went on to play Jennifer Marlowe on WKRP in Cincinnati, and it worked out great for her. The show ultimately landed the star both an Emmy and a Golden Globe nominations. The show lasted from 1978-1982, but the actress reprised her character for two episodes of The New WKRP in Cincinnati.
There Were Three Pilot Episodes
A pilot is a kind of a “first impression” of a new show. Sure, some pilot episodes are filmed more than once, but in most cases, it’s not worth the time or money for a show that might not even get picked up. But that wasn’t the case for Three’s Company.
There were actually three pilots. Surprisingly, the first two pilots that the show submitted were rejected by ABC, but they liked the third one and finally decided to pick it up. The pilot episode premiered on March 15, 1977, and the show went on to have eight successful seasons.
Billy Crystal Auditioned to Play Jack
Although it’s almost impossible to picture anyone but John Ritter playing Jack Tripper, Billy Crystal actually auditioned for the lead role as well. Crystal ended up on a different ABC sitcom, Soap, and everyone recognizes him as a cast member and frequent host of Saturday Night Live.
Seeing how successful Crystal is today, it’s safe to say the legendary comedian found his big break, and not landing the role of Jack didn’t really impact his career. He had a successful Hollywood career, and at age 73, he is still actively working in Hollywood.
Sesame Street Connection
Some theme songs just get stuck in our heads, and they are intended to do so. The Three’s Company song is certainly one of the ones you can’t help but sing along to. As it turns out, the catchy tune was created by the same guy who did the Sesame Street theme song.
Composer Joe Raposo is the brains behind both themes songs as well as the one for The Electric Company. Unfortunately, Raposo lost his life in 1989, but not before leaving some of the best theme songs for generations to enjoy.
Some People Can’t Do Anything Right
A landlord-tenant relationship isn’t always the friendliest, and that’s exactly how the dynamic was on Three’s Company. Mr. Roper was the the three roommates’ high-strung landlord, and he seems like an ordinary made-up character. But as it turns out, he wasn’t a complete work of fiction.
Norman Fell, the actor who played Roper, admitted that he based the character off someone he knew in real life. He described this person and his character as someone who “just can’t do things right… and yet thought he was the cat’s meow.”
Jeffrey Tambor Played Three Different Characters
Actor Jeffrey Tambor quickly became a familiar face on the show since he starred as three characters, three wildly different characters at that: a rich man, a dentist, and a psychiatrist. But as it seems from the plot, none of the roomies were suspicious or even noticed that these three “different” characters looked questionably similar.
After his time on Three’s Company, Jeffrey Tambor continued to have a successful acting career in television as well as movies. He appeared in classic hits, including the Hangover trilogy, and at 76 years of age, Tambor is still working in the industry.
Suzanne Somers Wanted More Money
Suzanne Somers was unsatisfied with her given salary. She argued with the producers and tried to negotiate a better contract, to no avail. The actress who was already raking in a nice $30,000 an episode wanted a $150,000 paycheck per episode, like her co-star John Ritter. Who can blame her for fighting for equality?
The producers were not thrilled with her request and her unwillingness to compromise. The subsequent drama led to the cast giving Somers the cold shoulder although they continued to work with her until her character was written off the show.
Heather Locklear Had an Awkward Audition
With Suzanne Somers’s dramatic exit, producers wasted no time to replace her. But unfortunately, for stunning, blonde bombshell Heather Locklear, it wasn’t going to be her. The actress auditioned for the role, but let’s just say it could have gone better.
During an interview, Locklear admitted that she was so worried about sweating at the audition that she had Kleenex under her armpits. After the audition, she realized she forgot to remove the tissues. So, not only did she embarrass herself, but she didn’t land the role either. Luckily, her career took off anyway. Don’t worry, we’ll get to all the drama surrounding Somer’s actual replacements.