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Joyce DeWitt Kept Her Secret While Filming Three’s Company

Joyce DeWitt, with her warm presence and impeccable comedic instincts, emerged as a standout figure in the world of 1970s television, largely due to her memorable portrayal of Janet Wood on the beloved sitcom “Three’s Company.” Set against the sunny backdrop of Santa Monica, the show revolved around three roommates – Janet, Chrissy (Suzanne Somers), and Jack (John Ritter) – navigating the challenges of young adulthood, all while dealing with the comedic misunderstandings and misadventures that arose from their living situation. As Janet, DeWitt brought a sense of stability and level-headedness, often playing the straight woman to the more eccentric behaviors of her on-screen roommates. Her character, with her distinct fashion choices and evolving hairstyles, became emblematic of the changing times and shifting societal norms of the late ’70s and early ’80s. Behind the scenes, DeWitt was deeply invested in the show’s success. She formed a close bond with co-star John Ritter, a friendship that translated into undeniable on-screen chemistry. However, the show wasn’t without its challenges. The highly publicized departure of Suzanne Somers after a contract dispute in the fifth season tested the resilience of the cast and crew. Yet, DeWitt’s commitment never wavered, and she continued to anchor the show with her consistent performances. Off the set, she took an active interest in various aspects of production, from character development to set dynamics, ensuring that “Three’s Company” maintained its high standards. By the time the show concluded in 1984, DeWitt had firmly established herself not just as a talented actress but also as a dedicated professional, leaving an indelible mark on one of television’s most iconic series. Join Facts Verse, as we present: Joyce DeWitt Kept Her Secret While Filming Three’s Company

A Household Name

Joyce DeWitt, with her signature charm and comedic timing, became a household name. It is through her portrayal of Janet Wood on the iconic sitcom “Three’s Company.” Alongside co-stars John Ritter and Suzanne Somers, DeWitt navigated the comedic intricacies of the show. It revolved around three roommates trying to live harmoniously. Then, it’s constantly finding themselves in hilariously compromising situations. During the show, DeWitt’s character, Janet, stood out as the sensible and grounded counterpart to the antics of her roommates. Off-screen, DeWitt’s dedication to her role, her close relationships with cast members. Her active involvement in the show’s production dynamics solidified her legacy. It is as a pivotal figure in one of television’s most beloved comedies. Join Facts Verse, as we present: Joyce DeWitt Kept Her Secret While Filming Three’s Company

Joyce and Suzanne’s Relationship

Joyce DeWitt and Suzanne Somers are best known for their roles as Janet Wood and Chrissy Snow, on  “Three’s Company.” Their on-screen chemistry, along with John Ritter’s, was a significant factor in the show’s success. However, their off-screen relationship experienced both camaraderie and tension, reflecting the complexities of working closely in the entertainment industry. In the early years of “Three’s Company,” DeWitt and Somers enjoyed a positive working relationship. Their characters, along with Ritter’s, formed a comedic trio that resonated with audiences. The actresses’ rapport on set contributed to the believable friendship portrayed on-screen.

However, as the show progressed, tensions began to emerge. The primary source of contention was Somers’ contract renegotiation in 1980. She demanded a significant salary increase and a percentage of the show’s profits. Then it led to a standoff with the producers. During this period, Somers was often absent from tapings, leading to her scenes being taped separately and reducing her role in the series. This situation strained her relationship with the cast, especially DeWitt and Ritter.

Ultimately, Somers’ contract was not renewed, and she left the show in 1981. After Somers’ departure from “Three’s Company,” she and DeWitt had limited contact for several years. Both actresses pursued their respective careers, with Somers branching out into various ventures, including a successful stint in Las Vegas, and DeWitt continuing her acting career in both television and theater. Decades after the end of “Three’s Company,” DeWitt and Somers publicly reconciled. In 2012, they appeared together on Somers’ web series “Breaking Through.” They discussed their past differences and celebrated their time on the show. The reunion was emotional, with both actresses expressing regret over the years of estrangement.

Bare Legs

Joyce DeWitt, best known for her role as Janet Wood on the popular sitcom “Three’s Company.” A distinct personal rule during her time on the show: she chose not to show her legs. This decision was quite noticeable, especially when contrasted with her co-star Suzanne Somers, whose character, Chrissy Snow, often wore outfits that showcased her legs.

DeWitt’s decision was rooted in a desire to differentiate her character from Somers’. While Chrissy was portrayed as the bubbly, somewhat ditzy, blonde, Janet was the more grounded and sensible roommate. DeWitt felt that by keeping her legs covered, it would help emphasize these character differences. Then it reduces the potential for the two female leads to be seen as too similar or interchangeable in terms of their on-screen personas.

Moreover, DeWitt wanted her character to be recognized for her personality and comedic skills rather than her physical appearance. By choosing not to show her legs, she aimed to shift the focus away from her physique and more towards her character’s traits and her acting abilities. Throughout the show’s run, DeWitt remained consistent with this choice. Janet was often seen wearing long skirts, pants, or tights. Even in situations where other characters might be in swimwear or shorter outfits.

Joyce Refused To Say One Specific Line

During the season when Suzanne Somers’ contract dispute was happening, and she was essentially banished to filming separately from the rest of the cast, tensions were particularly high on set. And perhaps this led to more bold and assertive behavior all around. One such moment was during the fliming of episode 3. In it, Chrissy is mistakenly identified as a prostitute. This is partly because she has a friend who actually is a prostitute, and so in classic sitcom fashion, it’s accidentally understood that Chrissy is as well. At the end of the episode, the friend says of Chrissy that she’s ‘priceless’ – aka she could never be purchased for a roll in the hay. And Janet was supposed to say “and she’s going to stay that way.”

Sex Work

The insinuation was that Janet was asserting that Chrissy would never sell her body. But Joyce had major issues with that line. She felt that it would be hypocritical for her to say something disparaging about sex work, since she seemed to be totally fine with the fact that Chrissy’s friend was a prostitute. So she spent all week in rehearsals saying the would refuse to say it. John Ritter agreed, and even told the producers that he would say the line. But when it came to the shoot day, it was still written in the script as a line for Janey. Joyce was furious. She’d been complaining about it for days, and had been more than clear that she wouldn’t say the line.

A producer asked once more why she wouldn’t say it. Joyce’s response?: “I leaned back in my chair and took the deepest breath. And instead of answering this idiotic question. I said, ‘Mickey, I’ll tell you what the deal is with this line. You can come out with a gun during the five-thirty show and hold it to my head ad I still won’t say that line for you. Is that clear enough? That’s why it took.” So clearly Joyce is a woman not afraid to speak her mind!

Audition Process

Joyce DeWitt’s audition for “Three’s Company” was a standout moment for the show’s creators. While many actresses were vying for the role of Janet Wood, DeWitt’s portrayal struck the right balance of warmth, humor, and relatability. Her natural chemistry with John Ritter, who had already been cast as Jack Tripper, was evident from their initial screen test. This immediate connection and her understanding of the character made her the producers’ top choice, and she was the first of the main actors to secure her spot on the show.

Dance Background

Before her foray into television, DeWitt had an extensive background in theater and dance. She trained as a dancer from a young age and even considered pursuing it professionally. This background was subtly incorporated into “Three’s Company.” In several episodes, Janet’s dance skills were highlighted, such as when she took ballet lessons or participated in dance-themed events. These moments allowed DeWitt to merge her real-life passion with her on-screen character, adding depth and authenticity to Janet’s persona.

Close with Ritter

Off the set, Joyce DeWitt and John Ritter shared a bond that was as strong as their on-screen camaraderie. They often spent time together outside of filming, attending events, and supporting each other’s endeavors. Their genuine friendship was a cornerstone of the show’s success, as their natural rapport and mutual respect translated into a believable and endearing on-screen relationship. Even after the show ended, DeWitt often spoke fondly of Ritter and their time together.

Staying on the Show

The contract dispute with Suzanne Somers during the fifth season of “Three’s Company” was a pivotal moment for the show. While Somers sought a significant salary increase and ended up being phased out of the series, both DeWitt and Ritter chose to remain. Their commitment to the show and its fans ensured its continuation and success for several more seasons. DeWitt’s decision to stay highlighted her dedication to her role, the show’s crew, and the audience that had grown to love Janet Wood.

Live Audience

Unlike many sitcoms today that use a pre-recorded laugh track, “Three’s Company” was filmed in front of a live studio audience, and Joyce DeWitt was particularly fond of this format. She believed that real-time reactions from an audience added a unique energy to the performances. The immediate feedback, the laughter, and even the occasional unexpected responses from the audience kept the actors on their toes and often infused the scenes with a spontaneous and genuine feel. DeWitt has mentioned in interviews how the live audience’s energy was palpable and how it often influenced the cast’s performances, making them more dynamic and responsive.

Character Input

As “Three’s Company” progressed and as DeWitt became more entrenched in her role as Janet, she began to have more input into her character’s development. Recognizing the evolving cultural landscape and changing societal norms, DeWitt often collaborated with the writers to ensure that Janet’s character remained relevant and relatable. This collaboration allowed for a more nuanced portrayal, ensuring that Janet grew and evolved alongside the show’s other characters and the series’ narrative arcs.

Hair Changes

Fans of “Three’s Company” will have noticed that throughout the show’s run, Joyce DeWitt’s hairstyles underwent several transformations. From curly to straight, from long to short, DeWitt’s changing hairstyles became a subtle subplot of its own. These changes were not just fashion statements; they were reflective of DeWitt’s desire to keep her character fresh and evolving. Each new hairstyle marked a new phase or development in Janet’s life, mirroring the character’s personal and professional growth.

Behind-the-Scenes Role

Beyond her on-screen portrayal of Janet, DeWitt was actively involved in various behind-the-scenes aspects of “Three’s Company.” She often collaborated with the crew, from the directors to the costume designers, providing input and feedback. Her dedication to the show was evident not just in her portrayal of Janet but also in her commitment to ensuring that every aspect of the show, from the scripts to the set design, was of the highest quality.

Now it’s time to hear from you. Which of these behind the scenes facts about Joyce DeWitt’s time on Three’s Company did you find most surprising? Let us know in the comments section below!

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