When the star of the fight sitcom asked because that the very same salary as her masculine counterparts, she was booted native the show and ostracized in Hollywood.

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Photo: Walt Disney television via Getty pictures Photo Archives/Walt Disney television via Getty Images

When the star that the fight sitcom asked because that the exact same salary as her male counterparts, she to be booted indigenous the show and also ostracized in Hollywood.

Every illustration of Three’s Company centered about a misunderstanding, but Suzanne Somers’ sudden exit from the present was a genuine discrepancy that network executives to be unwilling to fix.

When the sitcom debuted on march 15, 1977, it to be a mid-season display with only six episodes, but the lovable dynamics between the titular 3 roommates — john Ritter as Jack Tripper, Joyce DeWitt together Janet Wood and Somers as Chrissy snow — quickly ended up being a mainstay that the Nielsen height 10 shows. The fictitious comedic antics in apartment 201 likewise catapulted the young stars right into real-life fame, with Somers gracing the consists of numerous magazines.

In 1980, the actress to be seemingly in ~ the top of her game and she knew she worth. As soon as it come time because that contract negotiations, she set a reasonable threshold — the tantamount of her masculine costars. What she didn’t suppose was come walk out jobless.

“The show’s response was, ‘Who carry out you think you are?’” the actress told People. “They said, ‘John Ritter is the star.’”

The guys were making five times as lot as the women

When Somers very first signed on to the show, she agreed come a $3,500 a week salary to beat the bubbly Chrissy. Together the show gained traction, she salary climbed and also soon she was making $30,000 a week. 

“I had actually the highest demographic the all ladies in tv 18 to 49,” she claimed in one interview for the Academy of television Arts and also Sciences in 2009.

With a far better understanding the the market than once she started, she got in her contract negotiation because that the 5th season v equal salary in mind. “I’m looking around and also thinking, ‘Why are all the men...making 10 time more?” she questioned. Her costars, Ritter and also DeWitt, currently had their contracts set, so she provided them a heads up that she to be going to go in strong.

“I say to John and Joyce…’I’m going come ask for big money and also a item of the earlier end and also if you two back me up...we’ll all obtain it, therefore I’ll it is in the patsy,” she continued.

So she husband, previous television producer Alan Hamel, saw negotiate for her, questioning for $150,000 a week, which was the mean that males were earning on tv at the time, and on par v what she costar Ritter was making. (She states she didn’t recognize at the time Ritter to be making more since the 3 of them had a favored-nations clause.)


The actors of "Three's Company: (L-R) Joyce DeWitt, john Ritter and Suzanne Somers

Photo: Walt Disney tv via Getty photos Photo Archives/Walt Disney television via Getty Images

Another show's negotiations affected the outcome

Before heading come the meeting that morning, Hamel checked with Somers again, hypothesizing that it can all “blow the end of the water.” “I said, ‘They’re not going to remove Chrissy,’” she recalled in the Academy interview.

What Somers and also Hamel didn’t understand at the moment was the the abc executives were holding onto your pursestrings extra tight since they had just cleared up a address the stars that Laverne & Shirley, coin Marshall and Cindy Williams — and were payment the 2 women an ext than they had actually hoped.

Laverne & Shirley had just negotiated a monster deal, and afterwards, they decided they needed to make an example of mrs actresses so the no various other woman would certainly ask come be paid what men were making,” Hamel told People.

In a time prior to cell phones, Somers waited at home anxiously. “So ns hear the former door open and I have the right to tell by the way the door closes and the sound the his feet walking increase the stairs that this is not good,” she recalled. That’s once he said her the she had been fired.

“Never think that you are not replaceable — dominion number one,” Somers said.

After she was fired, Somers was escorted by a police security on set

As if the sudden punch wasn’t difficult enough, they hadn’t perfect filming the fifth season yet, for this reason she had actually to go ago to set. However it wasn’t organization as usual.

“So what they did perform was force me to end up out the year, but diminish me to a minute,” Somers defined in the Academy interview. “They built this little side set — it was crazy what they did. They would have a police guard come fulfill me at the back door, to walk me in. I was not permitted to view anybody native the initial show, just the wardrobe guy, who would bring me a pair of shorts and also something.”

On the sparse collection was a chair, phone and also lamp — v one camera filming her saying lines on the phone. “It just felt so prefer I was being punished choose I to be a bad girl. It carried up every my old feelings of short self-worth,” Somers remembered.

The demeaning therapy came all because she asked to be paid the exact same as the men. “It was just a terrible time,” she said.


The actors of "Three's Company: (L-R) Joyce DeWitt, john Ritter and Suzanne Somers

Photo: Ron Galella/Ron Galella repertoire via Getty Images

The market shunned she so she transformed herself

Offset, life wasn’t any kind of better. She went from gift the most coveted actress in the demographic to not also being maybe to acquire an interview with any press outlet.

“I sat home for the better part the the year, thinking, ‘Why walk I perform it? below I had the civilization by the tail… why did ns think that I have to be paid what they’re payment the men?’” Somers claimed in the Academy interview.

But one day, whatever clicked. “I hear voices sometimes, not in a monster way,” she explained. “I listen a voice in my head, like a loudspeaker. It says, ‘Why room you concentrated on what friend don’t have? Why don’t you focus on what it is you execute have?’” and also that’s once she realized the gift Three’s company had given her that they couldn’t take away: visibility.

Using her name and also face recognition, she plotted not a comeback, however a reinvention. “Everybody in this nation knows my surname — I have actually visibility,” she said of the realization. “That’s something.”

Soon she to be starring in a ras Vegas production with 13 dancers and a 27-piece orchestra, performing a lively revue with classic stage songs like “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” and also in 1987, she was called Las vegas Entertainer of the Year along with Frank Sinatra.

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Now she’s also a effective entrepreneur, fitness and beauty line owner, author and talk display host, and also has worn so many other hats — and it all stemmed from her asking for equal pay.

“That to be the great thing around being fired,” Somers said People. “I would have never been able to perform what I perform now.