WireImage/Ron Galella(NEW YORK) — Forty years ago today, we met Jack, Janet and Chrissy, as the classic sitcom Three’s Company debuted on ABC.
The show, which aired from 1977 to 1984, made stars of John Ritter, Joyce DeWitt, who played Janet, and especially Suzanne Somers, who played ditzy blonde bombshell Christmas “Chrissy” Snow. The show was based on the British sitcom Man about the House, but the premise — a guy and two girls are roommates, but the guy has to pretend he’s gay because the landlord would never allow such living conditions otherwise — probably wouldn’t fly today.
Three’s Company had numerous cast changes during its run, starting with Norman Fell and Audra Lindley, who played the landords, The Ropers. They were spun off into their own sitcom, The Ropers, and replaced on Three’s Company by Don Knotts, who played the new landlord, Ralph Furley.
Somers then left after a contract dispute and was replaced by Jenilee Harrison, who played her cousin, Cindy. After that character left, yet another character, Terri, played by Priscilla Barnes, came in as the third roommate. As the show’s ratings declined, the producers ended Three’s Company and spun off Ritter into a new series, 1984’s Three’s a Crowd, which ended the following year after one season.
Ritter went on to a prolific film and TV career, but died unexpectedly in 2003 at age 54 from a heart issue. Suzanne Somers and Joyce DeWitt feuded for years but finally reconciled in 2012.
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