Suzanne Somers spent five seasons playing the beloved character of Chrissy Snow on the sitcom “Threes’s Company” before she was abruptly fired in 1981. Now, Somers is opening up like never before about her firing, and revealing how she made peace with her costar John Ritter years later before his death in 2003.
Somers was fired after she asked for a raise that would have her making the same amount of money as Ritter was on the sitcom, which also starred Joyce DeWitt. The show would eventually go off the air in 1984 after eight seasons.
“So, we went in to renegotiate for year six because we had to, my contract was up,” Somers told Entertainment Tonight. “And they fired me. They fired me for asking to be paid commensurate with the men. … They need you as the example so no other woman in television will get uppity and think that they could ask for parity with men.”
However, she soon found that this firing was actually a blessing in disguise.
“Because I sat in my living room, like ‘Why, why did I do this, why?’ I had the greatest gig in television, this character that people loved,” Somers recalled. “And I heard a voice. And the voice in my head said, ‘Why are you focused on what you don’t have? Why don’t you focus on what you do have?’ And I sat there and I thought, ‘What do I have?’ And then I realized, ‘Wow, I have enormous visibility. Everybody in this country knows my name.'”
Looking back on her time on “Three’s Company,” Somers remembered the chemistry that she had with Ritter.
“He’s the greatest physical comic of our era, on par with Dick Van Dyke,” she said. “John Ritter could flip over a couch and it was choreographed like a dance. He didn’t count it out, but he did it the same way each time. I learned so much watching him. He was my real coach. I would just sit there and watch, see his brilliance and he had his demons. You know, when people are that nice they usually have demons.
“But the chemistry between Chrissy Snow and Jack Tripper was magical and I think after I was fired, I think he irrationally got mad at me because he lost his sparring partner,” Somers added. ‘I would be mad too and there was no going back. It wasn’t up to me, it was up to the egos of the producers and had they been smart — I was on what, six years? It probably would have stayed on another six. Somebody’s got to be the sacrificial lamb. It worked ultimately in my favor. That was my lesson — when one door closes, you know, crawl through the window.”
Somers went on to admit it was hard for her to be shunned by her castmates.
“Oh, it was so sad,” she confessed. “It was so sad. It was like being shunned from your family and whatever those producers said to them when they went back to the rehearsal hall, they painted me as greedy. They painted me as she’s trying to ruin the show, and so the whole show — cast and crew — shunned me. … So, I never talked to anybody on that show ever again. Ever again.”
Thankfully, Somers was able to make peace with Ritter before his 2003 death when he called her about doing a show together.
“He said, ‘I forgive you,’ which took a lot of maturity on my part to say, ‘You forgive me?’ So I said, ‘thanks,'” she said of the call. “He said, ‘You know, I’m doing a show, ‘8 Simple Rules,’ and we’ve got this dream sequence and I have this nightmare, and in the nightmare you and Joyce [DeWitt] are in the nightmare. So I was kind of silent. I said, ‘You know, the public has such a craving for you and I to be together again. I don’t think my coming back as a nightmare is the best thing that we can do.’ I said, ‘Why don’t we look for a proper project for the two of us?’ and so we decided to do that. Let’s find a show for the two of us and then a month later he died.”
These days, Somers is as busy as ever, as she just released her 27th book, “A New Way to Age: The Most Cutting-Edge Advances in Antiaging,” in which she talks about the secret to her longevity.
“I’m young at heart and healthy,” she said. “You know, I always thought — I’m 74 — and I always thought at this age, I’d be old, but I’m not old. I’m chronologically old, but I’m not old. And so, what I did figure out in all these books I’ve been writing, is that aging is about worn-out parts.
“Like, if you had a Maserati, you would pay close attention to the sounds of that car. If the engine was making, like, a rattling noise … you take it to a mechanic, right? They’d replace the parts,” Somers added. “So that’s what I do, when I hear the language of the body. So, what is the language of the body? If you don’t sleep well, that’s a language. If you’re in a bad mood, that’s a language. If you’ve got stringy hair and bad nails and things like that, that’s a language. But, what I know about cellular health and hormones is the key to, I think, longevity.”
This piece originally appeared in UpliftingToday.com and is used by permission.
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