Work

Joyce DeWitt and Suzanne Somers


DeWitt agrees to a reconciliation on Somers’ web series, Breaking Through, February 2, 2012.

. . .

Background:

Fall 1980: ABC opens contract re-negotiations for Three’s Company cast members.

November 18, 1980: Unbeknownst to cast and crew—including herself—Somers appears in her last full episode.

November 1980: After demands for a heavily increased salary (from $30,000 to $150,000 per episode, plus 10% of the show’s profits) are not met, Somers goes on a “soft” strike and is absent from several taping days, citing minor medical issues.

December 9, 1980: Believing Chrissy’s departure could damage the program’s popularity, executives craft a compromise wherein the character only appears in 1-minute “phone calls” to Jack and Janet from the character’s home in Fresno, where she is taking care of her ailing mother. Due to high tension on the set, Somers’ scenes are taped on separate days from the cast performance, and added in post-production.

December 16, 1980: Jenilee Harrison debuts as Cindy Snow—Chrissy’s cousin—ushering in the new “third” roommate.

March 10, 1981: Somers’ last phone call scene airs. ABC does not renew her contract, ending her affiliation with the series.

Original cast members John Ritter and Joyce DeWitt would press on, seeing Three’s Company to a heartfelt series finale on September 18, 1984.

On September 11, 2003, John Ritter suddenly died from an undiagnosed congenital heart defect. Despite the overwhelming outpouring of grief in the industry—and the renewed interest in the series the media frenzy brought—it did little to mend DeWitt’s and Somers’ relationship, which remained estranged.

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