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The following is a list of major characters in the American television sitcom Three's Company (1977–84).
Jack E. Tripper, Jr. is portrayed by John Ritter. The character is based on the character Robin Tripp of the British sitcom Man About the House and Robin's Nest. Jack is the main character on Three's Company and its spinoff Three's a Crowd.
Jack E. Tripper is a San Diego native who is a veteran of the United States Navy, where he was a member of a boxing team. He is discovered in the bathroom of Janet Wood and Chrissy Snow's apartment in Santa Monica on the morning after a going-away party they threw for their departing roommate Eleanor, explaining, "I came with a friend who knew one of the gatecrashers." He previously lived at the YMCA and needed a place to stay, and the girls needed a new roommate to replace Eleanor. Janet reasoned with their landlord, Stanley Roper, who lived straight downstairs from the girls' apartment, and he agreed that Jack could stay because Janet told Mr. Roper that Jack is gay, without Jack's knowledge. Jack was, of course, straight (the comedy stemming from having to "play gay" provided much of the story for the sitcom), but to bypass Mr. Roper's policy against single men sharing an apartment with single women, Jack had to pose as a homosexual to Mr. Roper (and later to Mr. Furley, as well).
Jack attended LA Tech on the G.I. Bill to follow his dreams of running a small French restaurant one day. He pursues a degree in culinary arts and works odd jobs from time to time. After completion of his schooling, he finds full-time employment as a chef, working for a popular restaurant owner named Frank Angelino (Jordan Charney). He worked his way up to head chef, and, around season seven, finally opened his own French restaurant called Jack's Bistro.
Jack has an older brother named Lee, who once came to town for a visit (in the episode "Lee Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother"), and Jack displays his feelings of inferiority when compared to Lee (Jack felt perpetually in Lee's shadow since they were children, because Lee was always more successful). Jack and Lee's father, Jack Tripper, Sr. (played by comedian Dick Shawn), appeared in the episode "Like Father, Like Son". In the Season 7 episode "Extra, Extra", Jack's mother was played by actress Georgann Johnson.
Jack is known for being a klutz. Much of the character's humor is derived from slapstick comedy. He is extremely clumsy and accident-prone, and is well known for his comic pratfalls. Jack is somewhat of a ladies' man and a playboy, but is also kind, loyal - and protective of his roommates, family, and friends. Despite having been a boxer in the Navy, he often cowered and allowed other men to bully him (mainly because of their larger size). Also, Jack is plagued by a fear of flying, as revealed in the episodes "Up in the Air" and "Cupid Works Overtime." Jack has his own bedroom, while Janet and Chrissy share a second bedroom. A poster of The Beatles as they appeared late in their career can be seen hanging on the wall above Jack's bed. (The Beatles poster actually belonged to Ritter, an avid Beatles fan, and he lent it to the producers to hang on Jack's bedroom wall.)
After Three's Company
When Janet marries Phillip Dawson in the series finale "Friends and Lovers", Jack proposes to flight attendant Vicky Bradford. Though she loves him, Vicky turns Jack down since she does not want to marry and prefers that they live together instead. Jack refuses at first, but then he changes his mind and they move into the apartment above his bistro. Three's Company then ends its series run and the spin-off series Three's a Crowd begins, with Vicky and Jack living above the bistro and Vicky's father having purchased the restaurant from Mr. Angelino.
Janet Wood was portrayed by Joyce DeWitt.
Janet and her roommate Chrissy Snow (and later roommates Cindy Snow and Terri Alden) share an apartment in Santa Monica, California, and need a third roommate to help pay the rent after their old roommate, Eleanor, just had her baby, married, and moved out. On the morning after a going-away party they threw for Eleanor, Janet and Chrissy find Jack Tripper sleeping in their bathtub. Upon getting to know Jack, who at the time is staying at the local YMCA, Janet and Chrissy suggest that he move in as their new roommate (primarily because he is skilled in cooking, a skill that both girls lack). Their old-fashioned and curmudgeonly landlord, Stanley Roper, is opposed to the idea of a young man sharing an apartment with two young attractive women. However, Janet convinces Roper that Jack is gay to alleviate the landlord's concern about the living arrangement. Thus, Jack is allowed to move in under this guise.
Janet worked in and ultimately manages the Arcade Flower Shop. She is very fond of plants, which are seen throughout the apartment.
Janet is from Speedway, Indiana. She has a sister named Jenny (who came for a visit in the episode "My Sister's Keeper"), and a brother whose name is never mentioned. She graduated from college, but her major is never revealed. She is the daughter of Ruth and Roland Wood. In the episode "Chrissy Come Home", Janet states that her father is of Italian descent. She speaks Italian, although not fluently (as displayed in the episode "Loan Shark"). (Like her character, DeWitt is from Speedway and her father is of Italian descent.)
Janet was portrayed as the intelligent, responsible, and "reliable" roommate as opposed to her more ditzy blonde counterparts Chrissy, Cindy, and Terri, with early episodes focusing on her self-consciousness over being less endowed than her female roommates, or at being perceived as less spontaneous. Perhaps because of her above-mentioned responsibility, Janet is the one who often reprimands Jack over his mischief.
In the episode leading to the series finale of Three's Company, she meets Phillip Dawson at a reading of a will. In the series finale "Friends and Lovers", Janet and Phillip marry in the apartment with the rest of the gang in attendance. After Janet returns from her honeymoon, Phillip and she settle in their newly married life in another part of town.
Christmas Noelle "Chrissy" Snow was portrayed by Suzanne Somers.
In the original unaired pilot of Three's Company, Samantha, the character who would become Chrissy, was portrayed by Susanne Zenor. Zenor was not picked for the second filming of the pilot, so actress Susan Lanier took over the role of Chrissy. Somers ultimately won the permanent role in the third and final pilot.
Chrissy was born in Fresno, the eldest child of Reverend Luther Snow (Peter Mark Richman) and his wife (Priscilla Morrill). In one episode, she explains that she was named "Christmas" because her father was a big fan of Bing Crosby (whose song "White Christmas" became a signature song of his). In another episode, she states that her name is Christmas due to having been born in December. However, in the episode "Roper's Niece", Janet states that Chrissy's birth was "not until January." Yet, in the season-four episode "Chrissy's Hospitality", Chrissy falls and hits her head, ending up in the hospital as a result. She explains to the nurse that her father named her Christmas because "she was the best present he ever got."
Chrissy was born into a religious family and always loved her family traditions, such as Christmas with the family. Every Sunday, the Snow family would go to church to hear her father preach. She always loved her family and friends, and upon moving to Santa Monica, she assured them that she would eventually return home to Fresno.
In her early 20s, Chrissy moved to Santa Monica, where she found a job as a typist. She found an apartment, owned and operated by Stanley and Helen Roper, which she shared with two other women, Janet Wood and Eleanor Garvey.
In the pilot, a pregnant Eleanor got married in a reception in the apartment, but went into labor just as she was cutting the cake. After Eleanor had her baby and moved away, Janet and Chrissy were left needing a new roommate to help with living expenses. On the morning after a going-away party the girls threw for Eleanor, they find a man in their bathtub who had passed out and, after waking up, claimed that he was a friend of one of the party crashers. The girls suggested that the man, Jack Tripper, move in as their new roommate instead of other, less desirable candidates (one of them being a pompous, nasal-voiced woman named Patricia, nicknamed "Pattikins").
Concept and creation
Chrissy's personality was an exaggerated characterization of the "dumb blonde" stereotype, as evidenced by her repeated confusion and misunderstandings, malapropisms, and girlish behavior. Chrissy is depicted as being quick to laugh at her own jokes, and quick to cry in an exaggerated, whining fashion (as a young child would do). Chrissy's behavior was reflected somewhat by her cousin, and eventual replacement, Cindy Snow, although Cindy was more klutzy, and less dim.
Chrissy is modeled as an ingenue, a minister's daughter who seeks her fortune in the big city. As the naif, she frequently and unknowingly makes suggestive double entendres and is often oblivious to the attention she receives from ill-intentioned men. Her roommate Janet remarked that Chrissy totally fell apart at the littlest hint of "sweet talk." In one episode, Chrissy was picked up by a police officer who assumed she was a prostitute, despite her innocence and good intentions.
Regarding the character's look, for season three the makeup artist said that Chrissy should have snow-white hair, pink cheeks and dark eyes, and Somers suggested the hairstyle of an Afghan hound, and her signature side ponytail was created to hide an over-bleaching mishap.
Somers had emerged as a breakout character in the show. In 1978, she appeared on 50 magazine covers. Also, best-selling Chrissy Snow posters were produced and ABC even launched a doll which portrayed Somers as Chrissy. Somers was promoted as a rival to Farrah Fawcett by her manager, Jay Bernstein, who also managed Fawcett and other actresses of the day, such as Cheryl Ladd. After marrying former game show host Alan Hamel (whom Somers met for the first time while modeling prizes on a game show he hosted), Somers made him her manager. Somers was eventually axed from the series in the fifth season after a bitter and highly publicized salary dispute with the producers. On the series, her character of Chrissy was written out as having moved back home to Fresno to care for her ill mother. However, for a brief time (and to finish Somers' contract), Chrissy continued to appear briefly on the show in the episode's closing tag wherein she would call Janet or Jack from home and speak to one of them over the telephone, and more often than not Jack or Janet would fill Chrissy in on what happened on that episode. A couple episodes after Chrissy left, her cousin Cindy moved into the apartment with Jack and Janet for the remainder of the season. Upon the arrival of Terri Alden in season six; references to Chrissy vanished, only to be referred to once when the trio was being interviewed and Chrissy was mentioned as "the other girl" with whom Janet was living when she met Jack. From what is implied, especially by the time of Terri's arrival, Chrissy simply decided to stay home in Fresno and never kept in contact with her old roommates again.
Cindy Snow was portrayed by Jenilee Harrison during the show's fifth and sixth seasons (1980–82). The cousin of the character Chrissy Snow, Cindy was phased out to make way for Chrissy's permanent replacement Terri Alden. Ironically, Priscilla Barnes, who landed the role of Terri, had auditioned for the role of Cindy, but was turned down.
Cindy hails from Fresno, the daughter of Mr. Snow (Alan Manson), niece of Reverend Luther Snow and first cousin of Chrissy Snow. Raised on a farm, she grew to have a great love of animals, and enjoyed helping her father and mother out on the farm. Although Cindy is a very pretty girl, she claims she always "played second fiddle to Chrissy, because she was so beautiful." She was raised to enjoy the Snows' many wonderful traditions, such as going to church on Sundays to hear Reverend Snow preach, and being together for lavish, old-fashioned Christmas celebrations.
One day when Cindy was a young woman, Mrs. Snow found her daughter's diary and read it from start to finish, and subsequently fell asleep. She said it was the most boring thing she had ever read and told Cindy that it would be a good idea if she did more with her life and got out of Fresno. When Chrissy went back to Fresno to care for her mother, Cindy took the opportunity to move out and into the apartment, taking Chrissy's place as the third member of the trio.
Cindy debuted on the show in 1980 after producers needed a replacement for Chrissy after Suzanne Somers was fired over her salary dispute.
At first, Jack Tripper and Janet Wood, Chrissy's roommates, worried about what it would be like to live with the klutzy farm girl, but they soon adjusted and became close friends with Cindy. When Chrissy declines to return (and Somers' contract expired), Cindy's temporary stay became permanent. She also takes Chrissy's old office job, working for Mr. Charles Hadley.
Although she shares some of her cousin Chrissy's dim-witted and naive attitude, Cindy's trademark was that she was highly clumsy and accident-prone, often bumping into things or spilling things (with Jack more often than not bearing the brunt).
In the season-six premiere, "Jack Bares All", Cindy announced that she was moving out of the apartment to attend UCLA. Her replacement would be Terri Alden, a nurse. Producers of the show were seeking a permanent third roommate and were not confident with Jenilee Harrison in that role. Cindy did, however, continue to make appearances on the show during the sixth season, and was retained as a supporting character (and given cast billing credit). She has many pivotal appearances through midseason, and becomes the trio's part-time housekeeper in the episode "Maid to Order", but still hung out with the trio.
Her last appearance is in the episode "Janet Wigs Out" near the end of season six. Cindy and Janet have a falling out when Janet buys a blonde wig and develops a condescending attitude toward her friends. When Janet wants to keep her wig a secret from her date, Cindy tries to prevent herself from revealing the truth.
Terri Alden was portrayed by Priscilla Barnes.
Terri was born in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, works as a registered nurse, and is portrayed as far less "ditzy" than her predecessors. She is written into the story as being Janet and Jack's new (and final) roommate.
Although Jack originally disliked Terri, owing to a disastrous first meeting at the hospital when she administered a tetanus injection for a stubbed finger into his behind, he forgave her and warmed up to her eventually. It was Terri, in fact, who convinced Jack to move in with Victoria Bradford three seasons later, thus paving the way for the spinoff series Three's a Crowd.
In response to complaints about the characterization of blondes on the show, the writers portrayed Terri as a "smart blonde", and a "woman with brains", electing to steer away from the ditziness of Chrissy Snow and the clumsiness of Cindy Snow, Terri's blonde roommate predecessors. A dedicated professional at work, Terri is more relaxed when off duty and out of uniform.
In the series finale "Friends and Lovers", Terri quits her job at Wilshire Memorial Hospital and moves to Hawaii to continue her career as a nurse, caring for sick natives.
Stanley Roper was portrayed by Norman Fell.
Stanley owns and manages the apartment building in Santa Monica that is home to Jack Tripper, Janet Wood and Chrissy Snow. He has a love-hate relationship with his wife, Helen. Although they care deeply for each other, Helen and Stanley regularly bicker and engage in one-upmanship, with Helen usually the intellectual victor. A significant amount of their tension is due to Helen's ongoing desire for romance with Stanley, while Stanley is either clueless or uninterested. During the character's time on the series, he was known for breaking the fourth wall by smiling and snickering at the camera after telling a one-liner joke, often at his wife's expense. One of his catchphrases is "Not tonight, Helen; I got a headache." Although seemingly impotent, Stanley is sometimes known for spying on young women in bathing suits on the beach through his binoculars.
Stanley is generally friendly toward the trio, but can be very angry if the rent is late. He is also not above exploiting his tenants' fear of raised rents to get chores and favors done. He is told that Jack is homosexual to bypass any objections he might have to a man living with two women. He does not appear to dislike Jack or homosexuals in general, but he does keep his distance whenever Jack gets "too close" to him and sees Jack's supposed homosexuality as a source of amusement and makes several jokes at his expense, often calling Jack "Tinkerbell".
Stanley is extremely cheap (as revealed in the episode "Stanley's Hotline", in which the trio calls him "the cheapest man alive" and very much penny wise, pound foolish). Stanley drives a run-down 1958 Chevrolet Bel Air, which he attempted to sell to the trio, but reneged when he learned he could get a lot more money for it from another buyer (who thought it was the classic and far more valuable 1957 model). After the intended buyer learned it was actually a 1958 model, he added insult to injury by offering to tow it away if Stanley paid him $25.
After Stanley sold the building to Bart Furley, Bart's brother Ralph took over as landlord.
In the Three's Company spinoff series The Ropers, Stanley and Helen move to Cheviot Hills, California and live next door to snobby real estate agent Jeffrey P. Brookes III (who eventually sells them their house).
Stanley intensely disliked Jeffrey, and the feeling is mutual. When Stanley and Helen were investigating buying the house, Jeffrey's son David explained to Stanley that if his father did not like Stanley and Helen, he would never let them move in. When Jeffrey arrived for the showing, Stanley began telling a false story that the house was perfect for his "drums" and "wild parties." Very quickly, Stanley and Helen were thrown out of the building by Jeffrey, but with much prompting from Helen, soon came back to get another look at it. Jeffrey then posted a phony "sold" sign in front of the house to deter them. Stanley concealed his joy, but for Helen's sake he feigned sadness, saying, "I would buy it in an instant if it wasn't sold!" David reveals that the house was not sold and Stanley is stuck with buying it.
Helen Roper was portrayed by Audra Lindley and appeared on both Three's Company and The Ropers.
The character was based on the character Mildred Roper on the series Man About the House and its spinoff George & Mildred (the British shows on which Three's Company and The Ropers were respectively based), which was played by Yootha Joyce.
Helen always yearns for romance and sex with her uninterested husband, Stanley, and he almost never delivers, which frustrates her. Helen had a signature look featuring colorful flowing caftans and muumuus and oversize chunky necklaces.
Helen enjoys a friendship with the three tenants who live above her, to whom she affectionately refers as "the kids". Helen, unlike her husband, knows that Jack is not gay, but out of fondness for the trio, plays along with the charade. Contrary to her tightfisted and very suspicious husband, Helen does not mind that Jack lives with Janet and Chrissy, and is very understanding of their situation. She frequently tries to defuse tense situations between her husband and the trio.
Eventually, Stanley and she move to Cheviot Hills, an affluent neighborhood of Los Angeles, where her natural snobbishness asserts itself, often aided and abetted by her sister, Ethel Armbruster, who clearly despises Stanley.
Despite her attempts at adopting the behavior of her more affluent neighbors, she still retains her kindness. She befriends Anne Brookes, the wife of Jeffrey Brookes III, a real estate agent who lives next door, and enjoys the company of their son, David.
Return appearance on Three's Company
Helen and Stanley returned to the trio's apartment in a special guest appearance. Helen was frustrated with Stanley because he forgot their anniversary. She went downstairs to Ralph Furley's apartment to get some sleep (Mr. Furley was out of town at the time). A very tired Mr. Furley returned home early and went straight to bed, unaware that he was not alone. Soon, Mr. Roper came in the bedroom, finding Helen and Ralph in bed together, and said, "Helen, if this (a supposed affair with Mr. Furley) is what you want, so be it." Helen was upset and still angry. "Aren't you gonna fight for me?" she asked Stanley. Later, Stanley came back and started fighting for Helen against Mr. Furley, which made Helen happy. Soon, the two went to sleep in Mr. Furley's bed, which could have been the answer to Helen's wishes.
Ralph Furley is the landlord and manager of a Santa Monica apartment building that is now owned by his brother, Bart, who acquired it from Stanley Roper. It is the home to Jack Tripper, Larry Dallas, Janet Wood, and Chrissy Snow (later to Cindy Snow, then Terri Alden). Mr. Furley fancies himself a playboy, a "ladies' man" and a "macho man", despite the fact he has not had a date in years and is not appealing to women at all.
Mr. Furley is very subservient and seems to fear his brother Bart. Like Stanley Roper before him, he was also tricked into believing that Jack was gay for him to continue living with Janet and Chrissy (in fact, Mr. Roper was the one who told Mr. Furley about this when he sold the building). Because of his own playboy lifestyle, Mr. Furley probably would have approved of the situation himself, but he knew his brother Bart would never tolerate a straight man living with two women. Also, like Mr. Roper before him, Mr. Furley liked to occasionally crack gay jokes about Jack at his expense (calling Jack "Tippy Toes" as opposed to Mr. Roper's "Tinkerbell").
Mr. Furley often wears outlandish leisure suits in very loud colors with ascots, and has his apartment decorated like a playboy's pad. Usually, his shirts are very brightly colored. For his role of Mr. Furley, Knotts donned a toupee. Although Mr. Furley's brother Bart is frequently mentioned by him, the character only appears in one episode, played by Hamilton Camp. Mr. Furley defends his decisions as apartment manager by stating that his brother Bart, being the owner of the building, would (or would not) also approve of a decision. Many of the characteristics and mannerisms of Mr. Furley are comparable to Knotts' most famous character, Barney Fife from The Andy Griffith Show.
Larry Dallas was portrayed by Richard Kline.
The character is based on Larry Simmonds from Man About the House. He lives upstairs from the trio, and is Jack's best friend. He is also a womanizing playboy who often lies about his occupation to impress girls, claiming to be "Playboy's best photographer," a doctor, an airline pilot, etc.; his actual profession is a used car salesman. He habitually uses false names, including Jack's, when picking up women for one-night stands so that he might better forestall any attempts by such women to pursue a relationship, although the tactic backfired in "Will the Real Jack Tripper..." when a woman whom Larry impregnated was able to locate him because Jack's address and phone number were in the phone book (Larry's initial reaction was disgust at Jack for being "dumb" enough to allow such information to be available to the public). Larry is also constantly in debt, often owing Jack money. In one episode, when being questioned by his landlord Mr. Roper, Larry claimed to have served four years in the United States Marine Corps. Larry is of Greek descent, though this fact and his original last name are mentioned only in the episode where Jack opens Jack's Bistro, in which Larry explains that he shortened it to "Dallas" because he "could never spell 'Dalliapoulos' ".
Larry has the distinction of being the only other character besides Jack Tripper to appear on Three's Company and both of its spin-offs, The Ropers and Three's a Crowd. When appearing on Three's a Crowd near the end of its single season, he states that he had moved to Bakersfield due to downturns in the used car business.
Lana Shields was portrayed by Ann Wedgeworth.
Lana Shields is a bosomy, amorous, three-time older divorcee who had an unrequited crush on Jack. She is constantly flirting with Jack and tries to seduce him every time she is in his presence, while Jack, though, tries his best to avoid Lana at all costs, especially around new landlord Ralph Furley, who, like Mr. Roper before him, is deceived into believing Jack is a homosexual in order to allow Jack to continue living with Chrissy and Janet. Unlike Jack, though, Mr. Furley is attracted to Lana and regularly tries to "put the moves on her," but she dislikes him, which he never comes to realize.
Lana's first appearance was in the episode "Love Thy Neighbor" from season four, in which Jack takes a job as a male escort, which is how he first meets Lana, to make some quick cash. He soon learns that Lana wants to do much more with him than just have a casual dinner out on the town.
In the next episode "The New Landlord" (which introduces Mr. Furley), the trio accidentally sells all of Mr. Furley's furniture to a junk dealer, thinking it was furniture Mr. Roper left behind and not realizing it belongs to their new landlord (who has not met anyone in the building yet). Mr. Furley becomes angry and gives the trio an eviction notice, but upon meeting Lana, he immediately becomes smitten. Mr. Furley and the trio then make a deal: Mr. Furley gets a date with Lana, and the trio will not have to move.
Though she does not like Mr. Furley, Lana does seduce him on several occasions, to use him to get what she wants. For example, in one episode, she uses this tactic to convince Mr. Furley to accept the trio's rent money a few days late. In the episode "A-Camping We Will Go", Lana tricks Mr. Furley into going on a camping trip so she can be near Jack, who was talked into going by Larry Dallas, for the weekend. However, not long after this now-legendary episode, Lana disappears from the show without any explanation. Her final appearance was in the episode "A Black Letter Day". In the episode, Lana reads a newspaper advice column about a man living with two female roommates and the man is having an affair with one of them, and she assumes the column was about the trio.
According to the book Come and Knock on Our Door: A Hers and Hers and His Guide to Three's Company, the addition of Lana to the cast caused tension between John Ritter and the show's writers. Ritter believed it would be out of character for the sex-crazed Jack to inexplicably turn down the advances of a sexually voracious, attractive older woman. The writers reasoned that because Lana was older than Jack, he would be turned off. Ritter did not believe that the middle-aged Lana, only meant to be in her 40s (whereas Jack was in his late 20s/early 30s), would repel Jack. Ann Wedgeworth, in the same book, claimed that she asked to be released from her contract because of Lana's dwindling role in the show.
Frank Angelino was played by Jordan Charney. A restaurateur, he is Jack's short-tempered boss at Angelino's Restaurant and landlord/partner at Jack's Bistro. This character appeared in 13 episodes.
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