The world lost a beloved member of sitcom royalty when Suzanne Somers passed away at the age of 76 on October 15, 2023, following a long battle with breast cancer. Among the actor’s various achievements, the most iconic is easily her breakthrough role as Christmas "Chrissy" Snow as a member of the Three’s Company cast. Though she was popular while playing the part, her tenure on the hit series also involved some behind-the-scenes controversy.
As fans will recall, the actress did not stay through the entirety the ABC sitcom’s run from 1977 to 1984. She ultimately exited amid Season 5 due to a contract dispute. However, the reason for this disagreement has been subject to a debate that we'll explore now.
The Reason For Suzanne Somers' Three's Company Exit
The simple, relatively well-known answer to the question of why Suzanne Somers left Three’s Company is that she had a falling-out with network executives over her salary. Yet there are actually two sides to this story it seems. In a 2020 interview with People, Somers — a single mother at the time she was cast — recalled how she was fired for requesting a pay raise on par with her co-star, John Ritter, who passed away decades ago. The actress claimed he was making $150,000 episode.
Producer Tom Bergman discussed the matter with the Television Academy Foundation and corroborated the $150,000 request — even adding that it would have required an increase of John Ritter's pay to $200,000. However, he also claims that, after the starlet's request was denied, she did not show up to set for multiple shooting days. Contractually unable to fire her, the producers wrote in that Chrissy had to leave to care for her ill mother And as a result, the crew taped end-of-episode segments for the character, in which she spoke to the cast over the phone, for the remainder of the season.
Who Replaced Suzanne Somers On Three's Company?
Jack Tripper (John Ritter) and Janet Wood (Joyce DeWitt) were out a third roommate so, to keep the title of the show true, Jenilee Harrison was brought into the Three’s Company cast as Chrissy’s cousin, Cindy Snow. Harrison remained on the show for the remainder of Season 5 until Priscilla Barnes — who revealed to Antenna TV that she had never seen an episode prior — was cast as Terri. The character was established as nurse who moved into the apartment, and she remained the permanent third roommate until the series finale.
What Was Suzanne Somers' Career Like After Three's Company?
Three’s Company — which actually inspired two spin-offs you may have forgotten about — marked the beginning of Suzanne Somers’ career, and it certainly didn't end after that dispute. In the 1990s, as Today recalls, she became a fitness icon as the spokesperson for the ThighMaster and, in the same decade, she was cast on the classic TGIF comedy Step by Step — available with a Max subscription — which ran for seven seasons.
In more recent years, she hosted a few talk shows — namely Lifetime’s The Suzanne Show and a web series called Breaking Through. She even had the chance to join The View but turned down the opportunity. It was also on Breaking Through when she reunited with DeWitt after more than 30 years and recalled how she, thankfully, was able to reconcile with John Ritter before his death in 2003.
There were heartfelt tributes to Suzanne Somers following her passing, with celebrities like Fran Drescher and Khloé Kardashian honoring her memory. Regardless of what exactly led to the end of her Three’s Company tenure, she was certainly a bright spot on the show and, because of that and more, Somers is an esteemed icon who will be greatly missed.