Suzanne Somers’ first seasons on Three’s Company were happy ones. She had found a series in which, despite her lack of acting experience, she was thriving. She and her cast mates Joyce DeWitt and John Ritter had a definable chemistry that was evident to viewers and even more clear in the show’s consistently good ratings.
The honeymoon period ended for Somers, yes, after she asked for a raise from ABC to match Ritter’s salary. But even before then, another incident took place that the actor felt set her cast mates against her.
The actor’s haggle over salary
Three’s Company began airing on ABC in March of 1977. Only six episodes had been ordered for its first season but soon the network knew it had a hit on its hands with Ritter as Jack Tripper, DeWitt as Janet Wood and Somers as Chrissy Snow.
Somers requested a raise in 1980 equal to that of her male co-star Ritter. Unfortunately, ABC execs disagreed and declined her demand.
The actor dug her heels in. She was being paid $30,000 an episode while Ritter received $150,000 for each show. As Somers told People in 2020, the experience caused strife for her personally and with her cast mates.
“I probably would have never left network series,” she said. “I would have kept on going and probably been in every sitcom after that were it not to end the way it ended. But I was ostracized. So I went away.”
The reason Somers felt she lost favor with her ‘Three’s Company’ cast mates
“I knew nothing,” she told the Television Academy Foundation. “I was just in awe that I was there. Total awe. I announced to everybody when I walked into rehearsal that first day, ‘I just want you all to know something. I’ve never studied acting, I don’t know anything about comedy. I’m hoping that this stays on for five years so that I can make some money. I’m very grateful for the job.”
Somers admitted that being so honest about her lack of experience was probably not in her best interests as she described how her being nominated for acting awards – and winning one – caused her cast mates to dislike her.
“As the show became so popular, and I became so popular, in year three, I think I was nominated for an Emmy and nominated for a Golden Globe. It started creating on this happy set a resentment,” she continued.
The Step by Step star credits Ritter with her ability to act comically, saying she studied with him “like a sponge. I’ve never seen anybody as good as John Ritter. And he made me so good. I learned my timing from him.”
The three actors from ‘Three’s Company’ eventually reconciled
As bad as having ABC turn down her request for more money was, Somers said her co-stars’ cold war against her was far worse: “I have a heartache, it’s terrible, I still have a heartache that it ended so badly, that Joyce DeWitt to this day doesn’t talk to me.”
Somers and DeWitt finally did speak again in 2012 on Somers’ web series Breaking Through. As for John Ritter, Somers told Fox News in 2017 that the actor, who died in 2003, called her a month before his death to invite her to appear on his ABC comedy 8 Simple Rules.
“[Ritter] said, ‘I’m doing a show called 8 Simple Rules and there’s a dream sequence and I want to have a nightmare, and in my nightmare, you… are in the dream.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I’d love to work with you again, but… This isn’t the way I want to come back, a nightmare. Really?’”