“Come and knock on our door…” If you hear those six words and instantly feel transported back to the 1970s, chances are you watched Three’s Company growing up. The classic sitcom about three roommates—Jack (John Ritter), Janet (Joyce DeWitt), and Chrissy (Suzanne Somers)—was a major hit. And anyone who has revisited it in recent years knows the jokes still hold up. While Ritter and DeWitt stayed with the show for the entire run, Somers left in 1980, replaced first by Jenilee Harrison as Chrissy’s cousin Cindy, and then by Priscilla Barnes as Terri. Barnes starred on the show until it ended in 1984—and she’s stayed active since then. Read on to find out what she’s been up to, and to see what she looks like now at 67.
Priscilla Barnes joined the cast of Three’s Company in 1981.
The core cast of Three’s Company delighted audiences for five years, but there was a major cast shake-up after the fifth season. Somers, who had played ditzy Chrissy since the show’s start, was fired after asking to be paid as much as her male co-star, as she related in a 2020 interview with Entertainment Tonight. Harrison joined the show as Chrissy’s hapless cousin Cindy, but the characters were too similar. Eventually, Cindy was phased out in favor of the much sharper Terri Alden, played by Barnes.
She was introduced with a splashy People cover in Dec. 1981. In an interview at the time, the then-27-year-old Barnes told People that she was relieved to be playing a character who was distinct from the one she was replacing. “I’m glad the producers don’t want me to play dumb,” Barnes said, “because I’d always be compared to Suzanne.”
She called her time on the show the “three worst years” of her life.
While Barnes has reunited with her Three’s Company co-stars since the show went off the air, the experience of filming the sitcom is not something she remembers fondly. In a 1998 episode of E! True Hollywood Story (via TeddyFeed), Barnes revealed that she felt uncomfortable on set, calling her time on the show the “three worst years” of her life.
In a 2002 interview with CNN, the actor reflected on the challenges that went into making the series. “Our bosses were very, very controlling. If my hair was too blond, I’d get called up in the office,” she said. And she wasn’t fond of the sitcom’s plots either: “It was very formula; it was a box,” she added.
Barnes has had an active acting career since Three’s Company.
Barnes may not be a household name to those who didn’t watch Three’s Company religiously, but she’s kept busy over the years, with plenty of acting credits to her name. Like many TV stars of the ’80s, she went on to do TV movies, including The Wild Women of Chastity Gulch and Perfect People, along with a series of guest roles on shows like Hotel, The Love Boat, and Murder, She Wrote.
And she’s no stranger to the big screen either: Barnes nabbed the role of Della Churchill Leiter in the 1991 James Bond movie Licence to Kill opposite Timothy Dalton. She’s also become something of a “scream queen,” appearing in a number of horror films, including Lords of the Deep, Stepfather III, The Devil’s Rejects, and The Visitation.
But she is best known to younger audiences for her role on Jane the Virgin.
Fans of The CW’s telenovela-inspired Jane the Virgin will likely recognize Barnes as Magda, the scheming mother of Petra (Yael Grobglas). Barnes appeared in 41 episodes of the series over the course of its five-season run, sometimes conspiring with her daughter and sometimes against her. Whether faking being paraplegic, being stuck behind bars, or decked out in a fabulous eye patch, Magda was always a scene-stealer, thanks in larger part to Barnes’ performance.