Three's Company Titillates the ’70s

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Three’s Company was the 1970s version of a commedia dell’arte, featuring a bawdy brunette, a sexy blonde and a sexually ambiguous male lead. Chock-full of innuendo and double entendre, the show put a farcical spin on the emergent values of a newly liberated American society. Jack Tripper (John Ritter) lives with two single women in a Santa Monica duplex, an arrangement unheard of before the sexual revolution. Though the living situation suits the young bachelor and his female cohorts just fine, their elderly landlords are another story. To appease the owners, Jack pretends to be gay, which makes for hilarious—and somewhat homophobic—humor. But come on: It was the ’70s, and the writers were probably on Quaaludes and cocaine. Today is John Ritter’s birthday. Though we lost the talented actor in 2004, we look back at the show that made him a household name.

 

Casting Switches

Three’s Company was infamous for its many casting switcheroos:

The Ropers (Norman Fell and Audra Lindley) for Mr. Furley (Don Knotts)

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Ralph Furley Threes Company Titillates the ’70s

The Ropers were given their own spin-off show, and replaced by Andy Griffith sidekick Don Knotts, who threw aside his Barney Fife persona to portray a comical lech.

Suzanne Somers for Jenilee Harrison for Priscilla Barnes

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When it came time to renegotiate her contract, Somers asked for an extravagant increase (from $30,000 to $150,000). When producers refused, she was promptly fired and replaced by Harrison, who was then replaced by Barnes.

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