Even in 1980, at the height of popularity for “Three’s Company,” Suzanne Somers knew she wasn’t getting what she deserved. Sure, her role as Chrissy Snow maybe wasn’t the most three-dimensional character ever played by a woman (although the star went on to proudly praise her character for her “moral code” and for being so “lovable”), but it was abundantly clear at the time that the show’s breakthrough success — for years, ABC pulled in upwards of 20 million viewers per episode — was largely due to Somers’ star power. So considering the three-pronged structure of the hit series, why shouldn’t she be the recipient of equal pay?
In the wake of her death, fans and pundits alike are revisiting one of the most headline-grabbing conflicts from her time on “Three’s Company.” In a 2015 issue of The Hollywood Reporter, the outlet caught up with Somers and got her to recount the story of how she was boxed out of the show. At the time, she asked for a pay increase from $30,000 per episode to $150,000; in other words, a substantial hike that would put her on par with what John Ritter was making. In a strong-arm tactic eerily reminiscent of the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, however, the network countered with a paltry $5,000 raise. With tensions rising both on- and off-set, Somers’ presence as Chrissy was drastically reduced in season 5 before she was ultimately fired. Talking to Yahoo Life in 2021, she explained:
“I don’t know how much money they lost when they broke up that chemistry but I think it was in the billions. I hear it all the time to this day: ‘I never watched again when you weren’t there.'”
Although she wouldn’t win that particular battle, Somers’ example helped set a standard that her contemporaries are still fighting for today.