In the late ’70s and early ’80s, Three’s Company was one of the most popular shows on television. And it’s considered a classic today, living on through reruns and that extremely catchy theme song. But, while two of the three original stars remained in the spotlight in the years following the show’s end, one of them decided to live a more private life. Joyce DeWitt starred as Janet on Three’s Company alongside Suzanne Somers as Chrissy and John Ritter as Jack. These days, 72-year-old DeWitt is still acting, but she made a conscious decision to move away from TV fame. Read on to find out more about her post-Three’s Company life.
She turned her focus toward theater.
DeWitt hasn’t taken on very many TV or movie roles since Three’s Company ended in 1984. After over a decade of time off from screen roles, she went on to appear on episodes of Cybill and Hope Island and in a few movies. But, mostly, she’s been performing on stage around the country.
Last year, she appeared in a Waffle House-themed musical called Scattered, Smothered & Covered Christmas. The play was shown virtually because of the pandemic. “We are offering this play for free this Christmas because it has a message that needs to be shared in this very difficult circumstance we are in,” DeWitt said, according to Broadway World. “It’s a magical journey of love and truth that deserves to be enjoyed by a worldwide audience.”
She’d discovered that fame wasn’t for her.
One of the reasons DeWitt stopped acting on TV is because she doesn’t enjoy being famous. Initially, she was only going to take a little time off after Three’s Company, however. “I was going to take six months off just to chill out,” DeWitt told Gay Calgary in 2009. “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. I took some time off and started meeting and studying with different spiritual teachers around the world. I thought it would be six months not 12 years.”
She also talked about fame and how it affected her and her co-stars differently in a 2012 interview on Somers’ talk show, Suzanne Somers Breaking Through. “I’ve often said to friends, when the press would come into the room, John would be hysterical, you would graciously hold court, and I would hide,” DeWitt said to her former colleague.
She made up with Somers.
When DeWitt appeared on Somers’ show, it was the first time they had seen each other in 30 years. This was because they’d had a falling out over a pay dispute, as reported by ABC News. But, they put the past behind them during the interview. In their conversation, Somers explained that her main reason for being on Three’s Company was to make money to support her child as a single mother.
“In a group of serious actors, I probably pissed you all off,” she told DeWitt. “And if I did, I’m really sorry. I just really needed money at the time.” DeWitt responded, “I didn’t have a business head. So I didn’t understand someone who did.”
She has fond memories of Ritter, including the last time she saw him.
Somers and DeWitt also reminisced about Ritter, who died in 2003. DeWitt shared the story of the last time she saw him. She was staying in New York City and when someone told her Ritter happened to be staying in a hotel near hers, she told herself, “Joyce Anne, don’t be an idiot, that’s a message.” So, she called his hotel and left a message. He called back just as she was about to leave her room.
“As I’m walking out the door, the phone rings, and I pick it up and it’s Johnathan. And he goes, ‘Baby, we’ve got three parties and a dinner to do tonight. I’ll pick you up at 7!” She added of their night out together, “It was so delicious … and a month later he passed.”
She’s proud of the show’s legacy.
In her interview with Gay Calgary, DeWitt talked about how Three’s Company was still connecting with fans years later. “I have had women in their 30s come to me and say I became a lawyer because of you. I knew women could be smart and have a way in the world,” she said. “I loved playing [Janet] and I did fight hard to play her the way I wanted to play her. I never imagined that all these years later people would remember me because they remember her. But I am delighted, if I had to leave a calling card I would happily leave that character.”