Why ‘Three’s Company’ Stars Joyce DeWitt and Suzanne Somers Stopped Talking for 30+ Years

joyce dewitt as janet wood and suzanne somers as chrissy snow in scene from three's company 1979
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In 1977, the sitcom Three’s Company turned social convention on its head with hilarious results and became an instant hit for ABC. But by 1981, amid behind-the-scenes drama during the fifth season, cast member Suzanne Somers, who played Chrissy Snow, was on the outs. In the aftermath, she and co-star Joyce DeWitt, who played Janet Wood, didn’t speak again for more than 30 years. So what happened?

Contract negotiations gone awry, not a personal dispute within the cast, were at the root of the issue. In 1980, Somers asked to be paid on par with her co-star John Ritter, who played Jack Tripper, and other male TV stars of the time. That meant asking for $150,000 an episode, up from $30,000 an episode, according to People.

Instead of coming to terms, producers fired Somers from the show. Her husband, Alan Hamel, a former television producer who represented his wife during the negotiations, told People that the move was meant to discourage other women from following Somers’ lead.

Adding to the tension, Somers still had to finish Season 5, but she wasn’t allowed to interact with the rest of the cast. Instead, her scenes were limited to awkward phone conversations filmed on a side set, which the actor was escorted to and from by a police guard.

Eventually, the character of Chrissy was replaced—first by her cousin Cindy Snow (Jenilee Harrison) and then by nurse Terri Alden (Priscilla Barnes) from 1981 until the show’s end in 1984.

joyce dewitt as janet, john ritter as jack, and suzanne somers as chrissy in a scene from threes company, they sit on a couch in a living room and look at a book
Joyce DeWitt, John Ritter, and Suzanne Somers in an episode of Three’s CompanyGetty Images

More than three decades after the controversy, Somers and DeWitt finally reunited in February 2012. On Somers’ talk show Breaking Through, the pair shared an emotional hug and chatted about their different perspectives and divergent paths.

For Somers, who parlayed her Three’s Company fame into a Las Vegas act and later went on to become a talk show host, author, and health and beauty entrepreneur, it was always about business. When she landed the part as Chrissy, she explained, she was a single mom who needed the money (she married Hamel, her second husband, after landing the show). This was in sharp contrast to the craft-focused DeWitt, who studied theater in college and earned her master’s degree in fine arts from UCLA.

“I always saw this as a business venture… in a group of serious actors. I probably pissed you all off,” Somers said.

DeWitt, who went on to a prolific career in theater after the sitcom ended, thanked Somers for the opportunity to “walk her talk,” explaining that whenever asked about the scuttlebutt surrounding the series, “I have relentlessly said that it is my opinion that the only reason Three’s Company is worth remembering is that it created an opportunity for all of us to laugh together, to celebrate joy. It’s a profound gift.”

She also shed light on the other major difference between the two: DeWitt never wanted fame and has intentionally avoided it through the years. However, she expressed the utmost respect for Somers’ accomplishments. “You went up against ruthlessness, and it came down,” she said, but “what you’ve gone on to do is immeasurable.”

In the second half of the segment, the two went on to reminisce about Ritter, who died in 2003. Somers described him as “the greatest physical comic of our era.”

While Somers and DeWitt had differences, it’s safe to say that this so-called hatchet was buried. In fact, in 2023, when DeWitt appeared in a country music video for the Davisson Brothers Band’s single “Home,” we caught a sweet tribute to her Three’s Company co-stars: In one scene, the camera pauses briefly on a framed photo of the three together as Chrissy, Jack, and Janet.

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