A Different Actor Almost Portrayed Jack Tripper on ‘Three’s Company’

Three’s Company is a classic television show that generation after generation of television viewers have been introduced to. The series is largely considered to be the breakout role for both John Ritter and Suzanne Somers. The classic show, however, almost looked very different. Ritter wasn’t the only well-known star who was considered for the role of Jack Tripper.

What was Three’s Company about?

Three’s Company followed the lives of three roommates trying to make their way as struggling adults. Jack Tripper, a culinary student, meets Janet Wood and Chrissy Snow by chance. Janet and Chrissy, desperate for a new roommate to fill the spot of their departing friend, Eleanor, offer Jack the free room in their two-bedroom apartment.

There was one major problem, though. The building’s owner, Mr. Roper, wouldn’t allow co-ed living. The roommates get around the rule by telling Mr. Roper that Jack is gay. The majority of the series revolves around the three roommates’ Hijinx and missteps while they try to hide Jack’s actual sexual orientation from the incredibly nosey Mr. Roper.

Three’s Company is considered John Ritter’s breakout role

Ritter had a long and storied career before his untimely death, but for some fans, he will always be Jack Tripper on Three’s Company. Before the series, Ritter had worked fairly steadily as a guest star on several shows, but Three’s Company was his first major part. He portrayed Jack for all 174 episodes of the series.

John Ritter as Jack, Joyce DeWitt as Janet, Suzanne Somers as Chrissy
Jack (John Ritter), Janet (Joyce DeWitt) and Chrissy (Suzanne Somers) | Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives

Following his success on Three’s Company, Ritter went on to appear in several more popular shows. His finale role came in 2002 in 8 Simple Rules. In the series, he portrayed Paul Hennessy. Ritter fell ill during rehearsals for the show and was taken directly to a nearby hospital. Initially diagnosed with a heart attack, it was later revealed that Ritter suffered an aortic dissection. According to Medline Plus, less than half of people who experience an aortic dissection survive the event. Ritter died in 2003 at the age of 54. 

Billy Crystal was considered for the role of Jack Tripper

While fans largely believe Ritter was perfect in his role on Three’s Company, he wasn’t the only young actor considered for the part. According to Screen Rant, Billy Crystal was seriously considered for the role, too. Crystal and Ritter were the same age, and both had mainstream success before the series.

Billy Crystal as the host of The 29th Annual Grammy Awards
Billy Crystal | CBS via Getty Images

Ritter had a regular guest spot on The Waltons before becoming a star on Three’s Company. Crystal appeared briefly in All In The Family before landing a role as Jodie Dallas in Soap. Ritter and Crystal’s career’s diverged from there. Ritter had success on TV up until his tragic death in 2003. Crystal went on to appear on Saturday Night Live as well as a variety of different movies. His most memorable role came in 1989 when he starred in When Harry Met Sally opposite Meg Ryan.

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