Three's Company Time Line
Cast Biographies and Trivia
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In the great tradition of farce, Three's Company is the comedy that pushed the
envelope by matching two attractive young women and one handsome, but clumsy, willing and
able young male chef living under one roof. Jack, Janet, Chrissy, Cindy, and Terri all
resided in apartment 201. And their presence made American audiences gladly want to knock
on their door each week.
Copyright 2000 ABC,Inc.
The laughs began when American producer Donald L. Taffner saw the success in adapting
and "Americanizing " British television comedies for the U.S. Acquiring the
Changed Format Rights for the Thames Television hit Britcom, Man About The House,
Taffner partnered with former TV DuMont television executive Ted Bergmann and they flew to
Los Angeles to pitch the networks CBS, NBC, and ABC with the idea. In the fall of 1975,
all three networks balked at the risqué premise of two single women living with one
single man. Three's Company was a novel and shocking first-timer for an American
Copyright 2000 ABC,Inc.
While each of the big three networks originally passed on the idea, newly appointed ABC
Programming Chief Fred Silverman (a fan of the concept from his days at CBS) surprised
everyone and contacted Taffner and Bergmann. Dennis Doty, Bridget Potter, and Tom Werner
had been developing the program at ABC when Silverman gave them the green light to produce
a pilot. Larry Gelbart, who penned the first four years of MASH and his stepson,
Gary Markowitz, who coined the show's title, "Three's Company", were the first
writers hired. At this point, no one involved knew that it would take three pilots and one
year until the show would go to air. At the time, John Ritter was best known for his role
as Rev. Matthew Fordwick on The Waltons. Although his role on the popular drama The
Waltons was a completely different character type, Fred Silverman saw something in
Ritter and convinced the actor to audition for the role of David Bell (the name was later
changed to Jack Tripper) in January 1976. Everyone including Larry Gelbart knew he was
right for the part. One down, two more to go.
More than 250 female actresses auditioned for the roles of the roommates.
Valerie Curtin won the role of Jenny (the name was later changed to Janet) and Suzanne
Zenor was cast as Samantha (which later became the role of Chrissy). Michael Eisner, then
an ABC Programming Executive, inspired the casting of Norman Fell and Audra Lindley as the
nosy landlords, Mr. and Mrs. Roper. The casting was complete, but unfortunately, ABC
executives didn't feel this first pilot was strong enough to air. Back to the drawing
board ... ABC enlisted the help of the Emmy-winning writers and producers of All in
the Family and The Jeffersons, Don Nicholl, Michael Ross, and Bernie West.
Michael Eisner stepped in again and suggested that two new actresses be found to play
the female roommates. Nicholl, Ross and West knew Joyce DeWitt was perfect for the smart,
wise-cracking roommate known as Janet, but they were still short a blonde. Susan Lanier,
who was then famous for her role as Bambi on Welcome Back Kotter, was given a
The second pilot was taped, yet producers still felt something was missing. They needed
to find another Chrissy. Fred Silverman remembered Suzanne Somers from her guest
appearances on The Tonight Show and knew she was just what they wanted. The clock
was ticking and a third pilot had to be created that would convince the network the show
was good enough to air. Somers read for the part early January 1977 and the producers made
their decision -- Somers was the Chrissy they had been looking for. The third and final
pilot was filmed Friday, January 28, 1977 and soon after the first five episodes followed.
Three's Company first appeared on television Tuesday, March 15th at 9:30 p.m.
and was ranked 28th in the Nielsen ratings on its premiere night. The remaining five
episodes of the first season aired Thursday nights at 9:30 p.m.-never falling out of the
Nielsen's Top Ten. The show was a hit with audiences though the critics were not always as
kind. Even so, audiences all over the world continue to request the "company" of
the very special ensemble cast that we know to be Three's Company.
In the words of the First Lady of Comedy....
"It didn't set out to change the world, it just made us laugh and
that is why we love it." Lucille Ball (April 22, 1982)
A Little History
It's 1973... movies like Jesus Christ Super Star and The Poseidon
Adventure are big screen hits in the US. The Seventies as an era was still in its
infancy, and across the Atlantic Ocean in Europe a new comedy was making its debut on
This show would later make a lasting impression on the United States defining and
celebrating new lifestyle changes in the seventies and eighties between men and women.
Copyright 2000 ABC,Inc.
The UK comedy that inspired Three's Company, Man About The House, was
written by Johnnie Mortimer and Brian Cooke. This highly successful half-hour situation
comedy produced by Thames Television aired from 1973 -1976. The series has Robin Tripp,
played by Richard O'Sullivan, living with two female roommates. The characters include The
Ropers as their landlords and a swinger friend Larry Simmons. After 39 episodes, the
producers decided the story line had run its course and the show was able to finish it's
run with high ratings.
After the end of Man About the House there came two spin-offs, George and
Mildred and Robin's Nest. The former followed George and Mildred Roper, the
bickering landlords, after they sell the apartment building and move into an exclusively
British neighborhood. The other UK spin-off, Robin's Nest, saw Robin Tripp open
his own restaurant. He moves in with his new girlfriend Vicky, much to her parents'
dismay. These spin-offs were highly successful in the UK with the spin-offs series
producing more episodes than the original series.
All three of these comedies would be developed into the ABC sitcoms recognizable as Three's
Company, The Ropers, and Three's A Crowd.
Spin - Offs
The Ropers was the first spin-off for the super comedy hit, Three's
The story has the oddly matched couple, the landlords to Jack and
company, selling their apartment building and moving across town
into a posh townhouse development. Their neighbors in this upscale
community never quite adjust to Stanley and Helen's outrageous
antics, especially Jeffrey P. Brooks III, who lives next door with
his proper family.
Released in mid-season, this spin-off began in the spring of 1979 as an instant rating
success, airing directly after Three's Company. It received a 55 percent audience
share in its ABC Network debut and stayed in the top ten all the rest of that season. In
its second season, the show moved time slots to air Saturday night at 8 p.m. The time-slot
change would turn out to be a difficult move for the show, and only twenty-six episodes
would be produced.
The Ropers stars Norman Fell as Stanley
Roper, Audra Lindley as Helen Roper, Jeffrey Tambor as Jeffrey P.
Brookes III, Patricia McCormack as Anne Brooks, and Evan Cohen as
young David Brooks.
After eight seasons, Three's Company was transformed into Three's A Crowd.
The new show, the second spin-off, has Jack Tripper opening a bistro and moving in with
his girlfriend, Vicky Bradford. The romance between Jack and Vicky has to compete with
Vicky's father constantly meddling.
Photographs from "Three's A Crowd" provided courtesy of Long Photography Inc.
Three's A Crowd presented another
television first with its main characters living together unmarried. The cast included
John Ritter, who as an actor was excited to see his Three's Company character
grow up and take on new responsibilities, owning a restaurant and living with a long term
love interest. Mary Cadorette, born in East Hartford, Connecticut, plays the lovable
Vicky. She was chosen from over five hundred other actresses that auditioned for the role.
It was the instant chemistry between John Ritter and Mary that clinched her the role.
Robert Mandan, a veteran star of theater, film and television is Vicky's meddling
father, James Bradford. A few years prior to getting this role Robert worked with John
Ritter in a CBS television movie, In Love with an Older Woman. Unfortunately, for
Jack Tripper fans, the show lasted only one season producing twenty-two episodes.
A World Empire
Internationally endearing...one of the highest rated shows ever in the United States
continues to delight television audiences around the world. Three's Company and
its spin-offs have gone on to worldwide recognition. All three programs are aired in no
less than forty countries across every continent (excluding Antarctica). The antics of
Jack Tripper and friends have provided laughs in many languages. The U.S. version is
translated into languages such as Spanish, German and even French. A partial list of
countries that have aired the series include Canada, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Lebanon,
Indonesia, Thailand, Syria, the Philippines and the United Kingdom. The list continues...
Not only has the American version been aired in countries around the world, but the
popularity is so overwhelming that countries are producing their own versions, using the
original scripts. They tape their version of Three's Company utilizing their
countries' national actors giving the series a local flavor with their own humor and
euphemisms. Currently Sweden, Norway, and Portugal can say they have produced their own
versions. In Sweden, for example, viewers tune into En Tyra For Tre. Audiences
everywhere continue to respond in great numbers as reflected in the high ratings. Viewers
from around the world tune-in to Three's Company.
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