Three’s Company: This TV sitcom offered unforgettable comedic chaos from a simpler time (1977-1984)

Three's Company - 70s and 80s TV sitcom at Click Americana

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“Three’s Company” was an American sitcom that centered around the comedic, and often misunderstood, escapades of three single roommates — Janet Wood, Chrissy Snow, and Jack Tripper — living in a Santa Monica apartment complex.

Jack, the only male roommate, had to pretend he was gay in order to placate the landlords who wouldn’t approve of an unmarried man living with two women. The show was renowned for its physical comedy, innuendos, and misunderstandings, with Jack frequently finding himself in awkward yet hilarious situations.
Years on air: 1977-1984
# of seasons: 8
# of episodes: 172


John Ritter as Jack Tripper: A clumsy culinary student (and later a chef), who’s often the comic center of the show. Jack is constantly getting into humorous misunderstandings and predicaments due to his various schemes and lies.

Suzanne Somers as Chrissy Snow: A ditzy and naive secretary from Fresno. She is known for her iconic blonde hair, cute sense of style, and endearingly silly behavior. Chrissy lived with Jack and Janet until season 5, when Somers left the show.

Joyce DeWitt as Janet Wood: A down-to-earth and responsible florist. As the most level-headed of the trio, Janet often plays the “straight man” to Jack and Chrissy’s more comedic characters.

Norman Fell and Audra Lindley as Stanley and Helen Roper: The original landlords of the apartment. Stanley is often portrayed as a grumpy, miserly man, while Helen is a sexually frustrated, fun-loving wife.

Don Knotts as Ralph Furley: The apartment’s landlord from season 4 onward. He’s a colorful character, known for his flashy wardrobe and often misguided belief that he’s a ladies’ man.

Richard Kline as Larry Dallas: Jack’s best friend and a used car salesman. Larry is a fast-talking ladies’ man, who often involves Jack in his harebrained schemes.

Jenilee Harrison and Priscilla Barnes as Cindy and Terri Alden: They were brought in as replacements for Chrissy Snow. Cindy is Chrissy’s clumsy cousin, and Terri is a smart and independent nurse.


For eight seasons (and much, much longer in syndication), “Three’s Company” delighted America’s television audience with its humorous mishaps and comedic misunderstandings, maintaining a consistent presence in Nielsen’s top ten list.

“Three’s Company” premiered on ABC in 1977 and ended in 1984, captivating audiences with its simple yet effective premise. The plot revolved around Jack Tripper (played by John Ritter), a clumsy culinary student who shared an apartment in Santa Monica, California, with two young women, Janet Wood (Joyce DeWitt) and Chrissy Snow (Suzanne Somers).

Vintage Three's Company TV sitcom - Apartment scene

The catch? Their old-fashioned landlord, Mr Roper (Norman Fell), wouldn’t allow co-ed living situations. Thus, to keep their arrangement, Jack had to pretend to be gay, leading to all sorts of comedic situations based on misunderstandings and innuendo. This unorthodox living arrangement was a pivotal aspect of the show’s humor.

The heart of “Three’s Company” was undeniably its lead actor, John Ritter. With his brilliant physical comedy and perfect comic timing, Ritter stole the show. His portrayal of Jack Tripper — with his incessant pratfalls and innocently lecherous nature — turned Ritter into a household name.

Suzanne Somers, as the somewhat ditzy but loveable Chrissy Snow, quickly became a viewer favorite. Joyce DeWitt, playing the more level-headed Janet Wood, served as a perfect counterbalance.

Early cast of the vintage TV hit Three's Company

Norman Fell in the role of the skeptical landlord added another level of humor, while his on-screen wife (the iconic Mrs Roper!), played by Audra Lindley, added charm and wit to the mix.

The series underwent a significant change in later seasons when Suzanne Somers left due to a contract dispute. Her character was replaced by her “cousin” Cindy (Jenilee Harrison), and later by Terri Alden (Priscilla Barnes), a nurse. Season 4 brought in veteran comedic actor Don Knotts as the trio’s new landlord.

Despite these changes, the show remained popular until it ended in 1984, proving its humor and appeal was not dependent on any single actor.

Later season scene from Three's Company TV show sitcom

Of course, “Three’s Company” was not without controversy. Its suggestive content, double entendres, and unconventional living arrangements raised a few eyebrows. But at its core, it was a lighthearted sitcom, a show about friendship and camaraderie that captured the hearts of viewers and cemented its place in television history.

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From the hilarious misunderstandings to the lovable characters, “Three’s Company” has an enduring appeal. It was a show that could make us laugh, and for eight successful seasons, that’s exactly what it did.

Today, it remains a beloved part of television history, reminding us of a simpler time when the biggest problems could be solved with a good laugh and a hearty slap on the back.

‘Three’s Company’ theme song & opening credits

YouTube video

‘Three’s Company’ theme song lyrics

Written by Joe Raposo

Come and knock on our door (come and knock on our door)
We’ve been waiting for you (we’ve been waiting for you)
Where the kisses are hers and hers and his
Three’s Company, too

Come and dance on our floor (come and dance on our floor)
Take a step that is new (take a step that is new)
We’ve a loveable space that needs your face
Three’s Company, too

You’ll see that life is a ball again
Laughter is calling for you
Down at our rendezvous (down at our rendezvous)
Three’s Company, too!

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Trial-run comedy hit, Three’s Company returning to ABC as a regular this fall (1977)

By Allan Cahan of The Great Falls Tribune (Helena, Montana) August 14, 1977

The outstanding hit of the spring television season was unquestionably Three’s Company, a buoyant comedy that was never out of the top 10 in the Nielsen ratings during its six-week “trial run” on ABC-TV. It returns in September and will be seen every Tuesday evening over ABC.

Based on a long-running British series, “Three’s Company” deals with three young, attractive people who share a small apartment.

Hardly new horizons for television? You better believe it is when two of the roommates are spritely and sexy young ladies, and the third is a personable and aggressive young man.

Sitcom silliness on 70s show Three's Company

Adding to the fun are their landlords, who live on the floor below. Long married, he is straight-laced and dour. She is up-to-the-minute and slightly zany. If the truth of the situation upstairs were known to him, he’d be against it.

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On her part, the sexual revolution is the best thing that’s happened to women since the vote. Of course, her husband will never approve of the relationship upstairs, unless, well, why not? He must be convinced that the young man in question, well, just doesn’t dig girls.

The happy trio is composed of bright new faces, although all are pros in the entertainment world. John Ritter, in a relatively brief career, has amassed top-notch credits. Audiences will remember him in the recurring role of the young minister in The Waltons, in appearances on M-A-S-H, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda, Kojak, The Streets of San Francisco, Playhouse 90’s, “The Lie” and Starsky & Hutch.

Don Knotts and John Ritter in Three's Company
Don Knotts and John Ritter in Three’s Company

Ritter comes from his acting talents naturally. His dad was the country-and-western star, Tex Ritter. The two delightful young women are played by two delightful young actresses, Suzanne Somers and Joyce DeWitt.

Blonde and beautiful but far from dumb, Suzanne made her feature film debut as the blonde in the Thunderbird in “American Graffiti” and will be seen in “Billy Jack Goes to Washington.”

While she is a complete fiasco in the kitchen, as far as the series is concerned, Suzanne has attended Le Cordon Bleu, and is writing a French cookbook. Two books of her poetry have been published as has a self-help book “Some People Live More Than Others.”

Vintage actress Suzanne Somers

Joyce DeWitt, the pert brunette of the trio, is not only a comedic gem but a singer, dancer, and director. On television she has appeared on Baretta, The Tony Randall Show and Most Wanted. Her theatrical appearances have been “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown,” ‘Damn Yankees,” “The Boy Friend” and “Sweet Charity,” among others. Directorially she numbers productions of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” “Boys in the Band” and “Fantastiks.”

Vintage TV Guide cover with Three's Company original cast (1978)

Audra Lindley and Norman Fell bring their glowing talents to the roles of the landlords. Audra, whose Broadway career encompassed such hit comedies as “Take Her, She’s Mine” with Art Carney, spent five years on the afternoon drama “Another World.” She is perhaps best remembered for her wonderful, scatterbrained mother-of-the-bride role in Bridget Loves Bernie.

Rounding out the stellar group is Norman Fell, who has appeared as a regular on such television series as Dan August, 87th Precinct, The Tom Ewell Show, and Needles and Pins. Last season he received an Emmy nomination for his dramatic role in “Rich Man, Poor Man,” Part I.

Skiing episode of Three's Company sitcom

Serving not only as producers but writers, the team of Don Nicholl, Michael Ross, and Bernie West is one of the most successful in television. Among their comedic credits in that capacity is All in the Family, which helped shape the new face of television. They are also the creators of The Jeffersons.

With both those series still riding high in popularity, they now have a new jewel in Three’s Company. It was the discerning eye of Ted Bergmann that saw the American possibilities in the British series “Man About the House.”

Three's Company - Janet, Jack and Chrissy

Along with syndicator Don Taffner and Thames Television, who produced the original series, he formed TTC Productions. It was Bergman who brought the property to Nicholl, Ross, and West, and Three’s Company was born and became a healthy, bouncing hit.

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Veteran comedic actor Don Knotts in Three’s Company

Don Knotts in Three's Company

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Three’s Company on the cover of People magazine with Priscilla Barnes (1981)

Three's Company on the cover of People magazine with Priscilla Barnes (1981)

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Comments on this story

One Response

  1. I was a kid when “Three’s Company” was on in prime time, and a lot of my friends and I weren’t allowed to watch it. Back then, it seemed very risqué, especially with a single man living with two single women. And the mere mention of homosexuality was frowned on by many (people weren’t as “liberated” in the 70s as we like to think). So we watched it on the down-low whenever we could — not because we liked the show so much as it was forbidden fruit. Today, a show built around a “dumb blonde” and gay jokes wouldn’t fly.

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