“Three’s Company” lasted eight seasons, but Suzanne Somers’ time on the show ended after the fifth season due to a contract dispute. Given the fact that the show was a ratings behemoth, Somers pushed for a massive pay raise in her salary, and the network was not all that interested in giving her such a raise. Somers had been making $30,000 an episode and wanted that number bumped up to $150,000, as well as having a 10% stake in the show. That may seem like a drastic increase, but when you realize that her co-star John Ritter was already making that kind of money per episode, all she was doing was asking for equal pay.
The network refused to close the pay gap, and Somers was fired from the show. Her husband Alan Hamel, who handled the negotiation, told People of the penny-pinching:
“‘Laverne & Shirley’ had just negotiated a monster deal, and afterwards, they decided they needed to make an example of female actresses so that no other woman would ask to be paid what men were making.”
Nearly 50 years after this, equal pay for women in the industry is still a major issue, and the fact that it wasn’t blatantly obvious that the three stars of a show called “Three’s Company” should all be paid equally is absurd. A show like “Friends” would run into this a little while later when the network tried to get away with only giving raises to David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston and not the other four core cast members. Suzanne Somers may have held a number of rather controversial views in her life, but her desire to be paid fairly for her work was not one of them. You can only admire that.