If you grew up watching Three’s Company, you probably remember Norman Fell as the grumpy but lovable landlord Mr. Roper. He was always suspicious of Jack Tripper and his two female roommates and often exchanged comical banter with his wife Helen. But did you know that Norman Fell left the show after only three seasons to star in a spin-off series called The Ropers? And did you know that he was terrified of making that decision?
In this video, we’ll explore why Norman Fell took a gamble on leaving one of the most popular sitcoms of all time, and how his fears regrettably proved to be justified. We’ll also look at some of his other roles in film and television and pay tribute to his legacy as a comedic actor. So sit back, relax, and get ready to learn more about Norman Fell: the man behind Mr. Roper!
Facts Verse Presents: Why Norman Fell Was Scared When He Left Three’s Company
A Risky Bet
Norman Fell is a veteran actor who appears in many films and TV shows. Then he lands the role of Mr. Roper on Three’s Company. Fell had studied acting with Stella Adler in New York City and moved to Hollywood in 1958. Before finding success on television, he plays minor roles in movies like Ocean’s 11, The Graduate, and Bullitt. He receives a nomination for an Emmy Award for his performance as a boxing trainer in Rich Man, Poor Man.
Norman auditions for Three’s Company, and he impresses the producers with his impeccable comedic timing. And his compelling chemistry with Audra Lindley, who plays his wife Helen. He casts as Stanley Roper, the crotchety but endearing landlord who didn’t trust Jack. Also, his lady roomies as far as he can throw them.
Golden Globe for Best TV Actor
Mr. Roper quickly became one of the most popular characters in Three’s Company after the series debuted in 1977. Norman Fell wins a Golden Globe for Best TV Actor in a Supporting Role in 1979 as Mr. Roper. His character is famous for his deadpan expressions, sarcastic remarks, and his signature gesture of breaking the fourth wall. It is by looking at the camera after making a joke or a put-down.
In 1979, Norman Fell receives a chance to star in his very own spin-off series called The Ropers. Also, along with his Three’s Company co-star Audra Lindley. The show follows Stanley and Helen as they move from their apartment building to a posh townhouse complex. They interact with a new collection of neighbors and characters. The show’s producers hoped that The Ropers would replicate the success of Three’s Company and appeal to its loyal fan base – but you know what they say about getting your hopes up.
While the idea of having his own series seemed promising, Norman Fell was very nervous about leaving Three’s Company behind and taking on a brand new show. He loved working with John Ritter, Joyce DeWitt, and Suzanne Somers, and hated the idea of bidding them farewell. He also feared that The Ropers might not be as funny or as popular as Three’s Company. Because of his reasonable concerns, he asked ABC if he could return to Three’s Company if The Ropers failed within one year. ABC agreed to this condition, but as you’ll soon see, they later shamelessly reneged on it.
Unfortunately, Norman Fell’s fears were realized when The Ropers failed to perform well. The show faced stiff competition from other sitcoms like Archie Bunker’s Place, Alice, One Day at a Time, M*A*S*H*and Taxi. It also suffered from poor writing, weak jokes, and a noticeable lack of chemistry among the primary cast members. The Ropers lasted only two seasons before it was abruptly canceled by ABC in 1980.
Fell Out, Knotts In
When Norman Fell and Audra Lindley left Three’s Company to star in their own spin-off series The Ropers in 1979, they left a big void in the show. The characters were fan-favorites, and Fell and Lindley really seemed to be right at home as members of the cast. They were often involved in hilarious situations and misunderstandings with the other main characters, and obviously this sort of chemistry would be hard to duplicate with someone else in their respective roles.
To fill their shoes, the producers hired Don Knotts, a veteran actor and comedian who had worked with John Ritter before on The Bob Newhart Show. Knotts was cast as Ralph Furley, a new landlord who inherited the building from his brother Bart. He was a flamboyant bachelor who wore colorful outfits and tried to act cool and hip, but was also very naive and gullible, which made him easy to fool by Jack and his friends.
Norman Fell And Don Knotts
Don Knotts made his first appearance on Three’s Company in the fourth season premiere episode “A New Landlord” . In this episode, he meets Jack, Janet and Chrissy for the first time, and mistakes them for a gay man, a prostitute, and a runaway. He also meets Larry Dallas , Jack ‘s best friend and neighbor, who tries to take advantage of him.
Don Knotts quickly became a fan favorite on Three’s Company. He brought his own style of comedy and physical humor to the show. He also had great chemistry with Ritter and the gang. Knotts stayed on the show until its final episode in 1984.
Many critics and viewers considered Don Knotts to be a good addition to the cast of Three’s Company . He helped keep the show fresh and funny after Norman Fell’s departure. He also won two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for his role as Ralph.
When The Ropers was canceled after two seasons due to low ratings and poor reviews, Norman Fell hoped that he could resume his role as Mr. Roper on Three’s Company. Despite previously agreeing to Fell’s terms, ABC had already hired Don Knotts as Ralph Furley, who had quickly become very popular with the audience. Going back on what they had previously agreed to, ABC refused to honor their agreement with Norman Fell and did not allow him to come back to Three’s Company.
Norman Fell felt utterly betrayed by ABC and regretted ever leaving Three’s Company. He was quoted as saying: “I should have stayed put – I blew it”. He also admitted that he missed working with Ritter, DeWitt, Somers, and the rest of the cast. Reportedly Fell never watched The Ropers or Three’s Company ever again after feeling like he had gotten stabbed in the back by the network.
They Both Appeared In Many Show
Fortunately, there is no evidence that Norman Fell and Don Knotts disliked each other or had a feud following the unfolding of these unfortunate events. In fact, they both appeared in the same TV show, The Steve Allen Show, before they became famous for their roles in Three’s Company and The Andy Griffith Show respectively. They also worked together on an episode of The Love Boat that aired in 1981, where they played old friends who reunited after years of separation.
While Norman Fell didn’t hold a grudge against Knotts for replacing him, that didn’t stop him from beating himself up for years for voluntarily choosing to leave the show.
Norman Fell and Don Knotts were both talented and respected actors who entertained millions of viewers with their humor and charisma. It’s reassuring to know that they did not have any personal or professional animosity toward each other. At the end of the day, they were simply colleagues who took different paths in their careers.
Fell’s Later Years And Death
After The Ropers was canceled due to low ratings, Norman Fell continued to work steadily in both comedy and drama roles. He appeared in several TV shows, such as Teachers Only, where he played Ben Cooper, Needles and Pins, where he played Nathan Davidson; and Crazy Like a Fox. He also guest-starred on popular shows like The Love Boat, Murder, She Wrote, Matlock, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Norman Fell also had a successful film career, appearing in many movies that showcased his range and talent. Some of his notable films include 1960s Ocean’s 11, where he played Peter Rheimer; 1967s The Graduate, where he played Mr. McCleery; 1968s Bullitt, where he played Police Captain Baker; 1972s Catch-22, where he played Sergeant Towser; 1991s For the Boys, where he played Sam Schiff; and 1993s Hexed, where he played Herschel Levine.
Norman Fell also received critical acclaim for some of his performances. He won a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1979 for Three’s Company. He was nominated for an Emmy for his dramatic role as Tom Jordache’s boxing trainer in the miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man. Also, he received praise for his portrayal of a villainous character who slaps Angie Dickinson in Ronald Reagan’s last film, The Killers.
Last Days In 1998
Norman Fell was not only a talented actor but also a generous and kind person. He supported many charitable causes and helped young actors pursue their dreams. As far as family goes, Fell was married three times and had two daughters.
Sadly, Fell died of bone marrow cancer on December 14, 1998 at the age of 74, leaving behind a legacy of laughter and excellence that will always be remembered by his loved ones and fans.
Hollywood reacted with sadness and respect to Norman Fell’s passing. Many of his former co-stars and colleagues paid tribute to him and praised his talent and personality. John Ritter said that Fell was “a great actor” who made him “laugh every day”. Joyce DeWitt said that Fell was “a wonderful man” who her “a lot about comedy”. Suzanne Somers said that Fell was “a very sweet man” who “always had a twinkle in his eye”.
Norman Fell was mourned by his fans, family and friends as a Hollywood legend who had a long and successful career in film and television. It still makes you wonder, however, what Three’s Company would have been like if he had stuck around for a few more seasons.
Norman Fell was more than just Mr. Roper. He was a Hollywood legend who entertained millions with his wit and charm. He proved that he could do anything from comedy to drama to action with ease and grace. Norman was one of a kind, and we miss him dearly.
How do you remember Norman Fell, and do you think that ABC should have given him his role back as Mr. Roper on Three’s Company after The Ropers flopped? Let us know in the comments. And as always, thanks for watching.