- Joyce DeWitt’s acting career and her appearance in the TV series “Three’s Company.”
- She now lives away from the public eye.
- DeWitt reconciled with her former co-star, Suzanne Somers, after a fallout.
Veteran star Joyce DeWitt first showed interest in acting in high school, where she took stage acting lessons from age 13. Born to parents Paul and Norma DeWitt on April 13, 1949, in Wheeling, West Virginia, young DeWitt’s father was unsupportive of her aspiration.
But she ultimately convinced him to allow her to major in theater during college. DeWitt attended Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, where she received her bachelor’s degree in Acting. The future Hollywood star later enrolled at the University of California, Los Angeles, and obtained a master’s degree.
DeWitt worked as a legal secretary after graduation and went to auditions in between. Months later, ABC gave her a chance to choose from two comedy pilots but expected a response from her after only 24 hours.
She swiftly read through both scripts and opted for the one about one man living with two women, “Three’s Company,” which later won the People’s Choice Award. DeWitt made an excellent choice because the other show never worked out.
“Three’s Company” was one of the most popular series during that era, and it aired from 1977 to 1984 for eight seasons. It centered on three roommates living in Santa Monica, which included two women and one man.
Due to their unconventional living arrangements at the time, frequent misunderstandings made for comedy. The series was in the Top 10 ratings during most of its time on air.
Although DeWitt had appeared on an episode of “Barretta,” including multiple plays, before being cast on the show, she became well-known as Janet Wood.
While shooting the show, she always wore pantyhose or tights and refused to work with her legs on display. In turn, this caused conflict between her and the producers. But it had a positive outcome as she later became the spokeswoman in the late 1970s for ‘L’eggs pantyhose.
DeWitt starred in the show alongside actress Suzanne Somers (Chrissy Snow) and actor John Ritter (Jack Tripper). They all pretended that Jack was gay to keep landlords at bay.
While Ritter was already a familiar face on television and Somers wanted superstardom, DeWitt was not interested in fame despite taking the acting route. Author, Chris Mann, revealed in a March 2019 interview:
“Joyce was a theater actor. She, I don’t think, was prepared for the machinations of Hollywood at all. I don’t think she was ready for the publicity machine either, and she pulled back after she decided to put herself out there.”
DeWitt and Somers became friends but fell out because of a pay dispute. Somers had wanted a salary increment from $30,000 per episode to $150,000.
That created a rift not only between her and DeWitt but also between her and Ritter. While trying to fight her case with the producers, Somers and her husband, Alan Hamel, revealed Ritter’s salary, and she aired her grievances from the show to the media, which did not sit well with the Emmy Award winner.
DeWitt addressed the drama in 2009 and explained that she and Somers never actually argued about the events that unfolded during season five of the show. According to her, Somers attempted to plead her case to the public while painting her and Ritter in a bad light.
DeWitt tried to reach out to Somers through many forms of communication, but she never responded to her efforts. Instead, she told people DeWitt was the one who did not talk to her.
Despite the public drama and being uncomfortable with the spotlight, DeWitt’s acting career made her a millionaire. Apart from “Three’s Company,” she had other movie roles over the years.
According to The Richest.com, the television star was reportedly worth $2 million in 2012. Previously, there were rumors that she had retired, but that has since been proven inaccurate because she has made appearances in other films over the years.
Life Away From the Public Eye
DeWitt, who now has gray hair, has continued to exercise her discomfort with publicity over the years and has remained low-key. Although she is still very much on the acting scene, she does that in theater and not on the big screen.
The comedian has reportedly not taken many TV or film roles since “Three’s Company” ended. Over a decade since her on-screen appearance, she starred in television shows such as “Cybill” and “Hope Island,” among others.
However, DeWitt has mainly been performing on stage throughout the country. In 2020, she appeared in the musical “Scattered, Smothered & Covered Christmas.”
Back in 2009, “The Ropers” alum explained her plans following her stint on “Three’s Company” and revealed she planned on taking a few months off from acting to relax:
“I saw Hollywood and the way it behaved, and it was not a moral code that was natural to me. If this was the way the game was played, I wasn’t sure I wanted to play it.”
She took a break and met and studied with different spiritual teachers from foreign countries. Initially, the star believed it would only take a few months, but the hiatus lasted just over ten years. During her break, DeWitt traveled worldwide and eventually settled in New Mexico. Since then, she has gradually returned to acting.
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Moreover, she and her former co-star, Somers, had not spoken in years after Somers exited “Three’s Company” in 1981. But the two women reunited in February 2012 when DeWitt appeared as a guest on her web series, “Suzanne Somers: Breaking Through.”
Somers publicly apologized to DeWitt, and the two let bygones be bygones. Somers explained her conduct during that time, saying she was on the show to make a living to support her child as a single parent:
“In a group of serious actors, I probably pissed you all off. And if I did, I’m really sorry. I just needed the money at the time.”
Before the show’s inception, Somers had welcomed her one and only child, Bruce Jr., in November 1965. The author shares her son with her former husband, Bruce Sr. Somers, with whom she was married from 1965 until 1968.
The same year “Three’s Company” began, she married the second time to Hamel, a Canadian entertainer. Meanwhile, Ritter also married in 1977 to actress Nancy Morgan, and the pair welcomed three kids, Jason, Carly, and Tyler. They divorced in 1996 after 19 years of marriage.
Three years later, in 1999, Ritter walked down the aisle again with actress Amy Yasbeck, and they were together until his death. The two played love interests in two films and on “The Cosby Show.”
As for DeWitt, she dated actor Randolph Mantooth and was with Ray Buktenica during the show’s run too. The pair were reportedly in a serious relationship that lasted seven years. However, DeWitt called it quits and shed light on why she and the actor did not work out during a 1980 interview:
“My self-esteem and self-confidence had disappeared. I gave them away. But he thought I was spoiled, and he wanted to be waited on hand and foot. I didn’t have time to clean the house and fix dinner and wait on him.”
Apart from her love life, DeWitt, who has appeared at fan conventions, splits her time between her two homes in California and New Mexico.
But she is said to be spending much of her time in Santa Fe, New Mexico. An aerial view of her California home shows trees surrounding it, and it appears secluded.
Reconciling With Somers
In 2020, DeWitt’s former castmate, Somers, spoke frankly about her exit from “Three’s Company,” revealing the show’s producers fired her after wanting to be paid the same as their co-star, Ritter.
Although she wanted to be paid more for her work, Somers was now perceived as the villain and was frowned upon by the crew members and co-stars.
According to the singer, she was said to be ruining the show’s image. Afterward, she decided not to talk to anyone from the production indefinitely until she and DeWitt reunited three decades later and mended fences. DeWitt explained during their sit-down:
“We had very different approaches to our careers. We had very different needs. I did not have a child that I was supporting on my own.”
Meanwhile, Somers mentioned that she had studied acting and that Ritter had also studied the profession and had appeared on the classic TV show, “The Waltons,” while she only burst onto the show to make money.
During the interview, Somers asked DeWitt why she agreed to appear on her online show, to which the brunette replied: “It’s time. I think you gave me the opportunity to make sure I walk my talk.”
Since the years they had not communicated, DeWitt revealed whenever she got asked about the show, she always remained mum about what occurred between them two and Ritter.
Instead, she would state why the series was worth remembering, saying it gave them a chance to come together and laugh as a trio. She described the experience as a “gift.”
In addition, Somers noted they never anticipated the ripple effect of the conflict. In addition, the TV star admitted she questioned her abilities at the time, did not believe she was “worth it,” and felt like she lacked something.
The mother of one explained even if that were the case, she was now different from the person she was during that period because she had evolved over the years.
Somers told DeWitt that she respected the training she received for her craft and learned a lot from watching her portray her role. On the other hand, she did not know much about that, and every time producers entered the room, she felt like leaving because she thought she did not belong there.
But DeWitt consoled her by saying, “Well, you were fabulous, and I never thought that they would let you go.” She added that Somers going up against the producers for equal pay made everything go haywire because they could not respect the feminine contribution. In response, Somers expressed:
“You and I deserved to be paid equally with what the men were being paid is my feeling about that, so it was their loss.”
DeWitt chimed in with a compliment and said what she accomplished since being shown the door from the show was “immeasurable,” whereas compared to her, she had not done much.
Somers then stated what transpired decades ago was a teaching moment for her, and she learned a lot and grew from it, adding it took courage for DeWitt to agree to appear on her show.
The blonde beauty was overly nervous about having a sit-down interview with her former co-star about what happened many years ago, which led them to be estranged in the following years. She was overwhelmed by rehashing the past with DeWitt to reconcile.
The health spokeswoman noted she and the “Call of the Wild” star are two different people who have had a great experience. The two Hollywood stars ended their in-depth conversation with an embrace.
While the women were finally able to bury the hatchet, their beloved co-star Ritter sadly passed away on September 11, 2003, from a heart attack which was later presumed to be an aortic dissection.
Somers revealed in 2011 that Ritter tracked her down at a hair salon. The duo had not spoken since the pay dispute in 1982, and she admitted to feeling unease about the circumstances because she adored him.
While at the salon, a receptionist told her that Ritter was on the phone, and once she answered it, he told her that he forgave her, which was a difficult thing for him, adding he was letting it go. In response, Somers told him that she loved him and always had.
Meanwhile, in a December 2021 interview, DeWitt reminisced about the last time she saw the Golden Globe Award winner. She was in New York City at the time, and he happened to stay near the hotel that she stayed at. She called his hotel and left a message, and he returned the call just before she left her room.
He told her, “Baby, we’ve got three parties and a dinner to do tonight. I’ll pick you up at 7!” DeWitt said of their evening together, “It was so delicious, and a month later, he passed.”