16 Regal Facts About Three's Company

ABC Television/Courtesy of Getty Images
ABC Television/Courtesy of Getty Images

Based on the British sitcom Man About the House, Three's Company starred physical comedy champion John Ritter in his breakout role as Jack Tripper, a culinary student who crashes a party and wakes up in Janet Wood (Joyce DeWitt) and Chrissy Snow’s (Suzanne Somers) bathtub. Janet and Chrissy and Jack end up becoming roommates, with Jack posing as a gay man in order to keep the coed living situation going. Here are some facts about the classic ABC sitcom that will impress your friends over at the Regal Beagle.

1. TWO OTHER PILOTS WERE MADE BEFORE THEY GOT IT RIGHT.

On the first attempt, M*A*S*H writer/producer Larry Gelbart wrote a Three's Company pilot script resembling Man About the House. John Ritter's character was named David Bell and was an aspiring filmmaker. The two female roommates were actresses named Jenny (played by Valerie Curtin) and Samantha (Susanne Zenor). A second unaired pilot was requested by ABC programming head Fred Silverman, written by All in the Family and The Jeffersons writer/producers Don Nicholl, Michael Ross, and Bernard West, and featured Joyce DeWitt and Suze Lanier-Bramlett as Chrissy. The third pilot filmed was the charm deemed worthy for broadcast; it premiered on March 15, 1977.

2. BILLY CRYSTAL AUDITIONED TO PLAY JACK TRIPPER.

Barry Van Dyke (Ritter hero Dick Van Dyke's son) and Michael Lembeck (later a director of sitcoms including Friends) also attempted to win the role. Crystal found employment on another ABC comedy a short time later, as Jodie Dallas in Soap (1977-1981).

3. LONI ANDERSON AUDITIONED FOR CHRISSY.

Anderson (later Jennifer Marlowe on WKRP in Cincinnati) didn't get the part. Ritter, who claimed she had a great audition, theorized that Anderson wasn't selected because no one would believe she couldn't live in her own apartment.

4. SUZANNE SOMERS WAS DISCOVERED BY ACCIDENT.

Desperately searching for the right Chrissy the day before production began, Silverman put in all of the audition tapes they had received and fast-forwarded through them. When he spotted Somers, he stopped the tape and liked what he saw. After never getting a clear answer on why she was passed on in the first place, Somers was summoned to the studio. "We got her in that day and she was on the set tomorrow and she was terrific in that part," the ABC programming chief remembered. "And that was an accident because she never should have gotten the part."

5. THE THEME SONG WAS COMPOSED BY THE SAME MAN WHO WROTE THE THEME SONGS FOR SESAME STREET AND THE ELECTRIC COMPANY.

Joe Raposo wrote it, but the producers of Three's Company flirted with the idea of having the stars of the show sing the theme. Despite their protests, Ritter, DeWitt, and Somers attempted it. "They didn't even come close," associate producer Mimi Seawell said. Ray Charles (not that one) and Julia Rinker provided the vocals instead.

6. THE BRUNETTE JACK LOOKS AT BEFORE FALLING IN THE OPENING CREDITS IS SUZANNE SOMERS IN A WIG.

"That brunette is Suzanne with a wig. You can tell by her little Suzanne buns," Ritter said. The bike Jack rode belonged to production associate Carol Summers.

7. NORMAN FELL BASED STANLEY ROPER ON A REAL GUY.

Norman Fell (who also played a landlord in The Graduate) based the character of landlord Stanley Roper on a man he knew back in his hometown of Philadelphia. "I was thinking of a guy I really know in Philadelphia,” Fell said. “The clothes are all wrong ... He was innocent and a guy who just can't do things right, whether it's being with a woman or fixing something. And yet he thought he was the cat's meow. He thought he was attractive, he liked his clothes. He thought people were looking at him because of how well-preserved he looked. He thought he was all things he's not.”

8. FELL WAS PROMISED HE COULD RETURN TO THREE’S COMPANY IF THE ROPERS DIDN'T LAST FOR MORE THAN ONE YEAR.

Fell wasn’t interested in leaving the very popular Three's Company, but Audra Lindley (Mrs. Roper) was game for a spin-off towards the end of the third season. To appease Fell, ABC promised him that if The Ropers was cancelled after one year, Fell and Lindley could return to Three’s Company. After The Ropers drew the second highest ratings for a series debut in television history at the time in March of 1979, it moved to Saturdays for the second season and viewership dropped enough for it to get cancelled. Fell wanted to return to Three's Company, but producers noted that The Ropers had technically lasted for one and a half years. Besides, the Ropers had already been replaced by Don Knotts as Ralph Furley.

9. JEFFREY TAMBOR PLAYED THREE DIFFERENT CHARACTERS.

After he starred as snobby neighbor Jeffrey P. Brookes III in The Ropers, Tambor found employment again and again and again in late-season episodes of Three’s Company. He was a rich man, Winston Cromwell III, who was after Chrissy in "Father of the Bride"; in “Two Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” he played Dr. Tom Miller, a psychiatrist who Jack and Janet confuse for a mental patient; he was also dentist Dr. Phillip Greene, a crazy dentist who was recently dumped by Terri.

10. WHEN JOHN LARROQUETTE GUEST STARRED AS A COP, HE CHANGED THE SCRIPT SO THAT THE AUDIENCE WOULD SEE HIS FACE.

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In the third season episode "Jack Moves Out" (spoiler: it doesn't last), Larroquette figured that because he was supposed to keep his cop cap on, nobody would get to see his visage. He rationalized it for The A.V. Club as such: "So I had to figure out a way to get my hat off. And this is all completely selfish and premeditated. So inside my hat, I've written the Miranda rights. So I take my hat off and tell him, 'You have the right to remain silent.' So my hat is off for the remainder of the scene, which allows you to see my face and my confidence, as it were. Had I not thought of that, it would have just been this hated cop figure for 30 seconds or whatever, and no one would have really known who he was." The producers clearly didn’t mind the change; they left the scene intact.

11. SOMERS LEFT THE SHOW BECAUSE SHE WANTED TO BE PAID AS MUCH AS RITTER.

Somers asked for an increase from $30,000 to $150,000 per episode, Ritter's salary at the time, as well as 10 percent of the show's profits. ABC was offering a $5000 pay raise. For the fourth season, after Ritter and DeWitt stopped speaking to Somers when she feigned a broken rib injury and the contract negotiations became a distraction, Somers was effectively written off the show. Chrissy was stuck in Fresno caring for her sick mother, calling back home to fill the last minute of episodes. (Jenilee Harrison played Chrissy's cousin, Cindy, that year.) After her contract expired at the end of that season, Somers was not asked to return.

12. HEATHER LOCKLEAR WAS LAUGHED AT DURING HER AUDITION TO REPLACE SOMERS.

Sweating in her peach silk blouse on her way to her audition, Locklear resorted to putting Kleenex under her arms. Despite performing a funny scene, nobody laughed at her audition. After hearing laughter as soon as she closed the door, the actress noticed the Kleenex had come out of her blouse. “So I guess they thought I stuffed my bra,” Locklear recalled.

13. PRISCILLA BARNES WAS CONSIDERED “TOO BLOND” SOMETIMES.

Barnes portrayed nurse Terri Alden, a replacement for Cindy (who was a replacement for Chrissy) for the final three seasons of the show. "Our bosses were very, very controlling,” Barnes told CNN in 2002. “If my hair was too blond, I'd get called up in the office.”

14. RITTER'S ONE-YEAR-OLD SON, JASON, WAS THE KID WHO RAN UP TO JANET AT THE ZOO.

The younger Ritter (later Dipper Pines in Gravity Falls and Mark Cyr on Parenthood) didn't remember the incident that was immortalized in the opening credits for seasons six through eight. "But the story is they were shooting a bunch of things at the zoo and I got away from my mom," Jason told The Huffington Post. “I just walked into the shot and it made Joyce DeWitt laugh so they kept it in the opening credits."

15. SOMEONE SAW MORE OF JACK TRIPPER THAN SHE WANTED.

In March 2001, a viewer claimed that a certain part of John Ritter's anatomy was briefly visible in the episode titled "The Charming Stranger.” The complaint was taken seriously enough that Nickelodeon edited the short scene out soon thereafter. In response to the controversy, Ritter infamously said, “I’ve requested that [Nickelodeon] air both versions, edited and unedited, because sometimes you feel like a nut, and sometimes you don’t.”

16. THERE WAS ANOTHER SPIN-OFF, CALLED THREE'S A CROWD.

After the events of the 1984 series finale to Three's Company, Jack moved in with his new girlfriend, Vicky (Mary Cadorette). The person who made his new digs a "crowd" on the show was Vicky’s father, who was also Jack's new landlord (Robert Mandan). The show lasted for one season.

10 Facts About Ken Miles, the Race Car Driver at the Center of Ford v Ferrari

Raycrosthwaite Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
Raycrosthwaite Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Though you’d be hard-pressed to find a car enthusiast who doesn't know the name Carroll Shelby, it wasn't until recently—with the release of Ford v Ferrari—that Shelby's teammate, Ken Miles, has been allowed to share the spotlight. The movie, which centers around the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mansa race that’s been the center of more than a few heated debates—has finally given Miles his due.

Director James Mangold said that the first cut of Ford v Ferrari was close to four hours long, but that he eventually had to cut it down to its final two-and-a-half-hour running time. Naturally, a lot of great material didn’t make it into the final cut, including some of the most interesting facts about Miles's life. Here are 10 fascinating facts that you won’t find in Ford v Ferrari.

1. Ken Miles started racing when he was just 11 years old.

Ken Miles was born on November 1, 1918 in Sutton Coldfield, England, a town located less than 10 miles north of Birmingham. At the ripe old age of 11, Miles started motorcycle racing on a 350 cc Triumph bike. A crash broke his nose and cost him three teeth—which led to him purchasing a larger motorcycle.

2. Ken Miles met his wife when he was a teenager.

When he was just 15 years old, Miles met a young woman named Mollie, then turned to a friend and said, “I’m going to marry that girl.” And he eventually did. The courtship was so all-consuming that at one point the headmaster of Miles's school called his parents and asked if there was something they could do about “this whole Mollie business.”

3. Ken Miles built his first car when he was 15 years old.

Miles was a busy teenager. When he was 15, he built an Austin 7 Special that he named “Nellie,” and some of the mechanical modifications he made on the car became signatures of his later vehicles. Mollie, who seemed to be a fan of the wooing, painted Nellie a British Racing Green. Miles sold Nellie during World War II, but continued to design cars after the war was over.

4. Ken Miles was a military man.

For seven years, Miles served in the British Territorial Army. His primary job was tank recovery, a job that required him to reclaim tanks and get them operational again. In 1944, he took part in the D-Day landings as part of a tank unit. Miles was also one of the first British soldiers at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, an experience he rarely talked about even though he was frequently photographed wearing his military coat.

5. Ken Miles loved American engines.

Christian Bale as Ken Miles in 'Ford v Ferrari' (2019)
Christian Bale as Ken Miles in James Mangold's Ford v Ferrari (2019).
Merrick Morton © 2019 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

During his military service, Miles found time to study and keep up with developments in engine technology. Separated from his racing friends, Miles had to work a little harder to share this love. In a letter to Motorsport Magazine, Miles went into the specifics about exactly what he loved about a new engine and how much potential he saw in it. He looked forward to designing his own supercharged version of the engine and installing it into a four-wheel drive vehicle.

6. Ken Miles understood how important physical fitness was for a driver before everyone else did.

Though physical fitness wasn’t as emphasized for drivers back then, Miles thought it was crucial, something we now know to be true. At five-foot-11-inches, Miles was a remarkably lean 147 pounds. Miles was an avid jogger who would carry two-pound weights in each hand.

7. Ken Miles once toilet-trained a cat—then was said to have done the same with a bobcat.

Miles once trained a cat to use the toilet. In addition to being a fun story he shared at parties, it was a fact that emphasized his stubbornness and his willingness to stick with a challenging assignment.

When Miles’s toilet-trained cat died, his friends sent him a wire telling him to go to the airport, where a new cat would be waiting for him. When he went to pick up the crate, Miles discovered that they’d sent him a bobcat. Carroll Shelby said in his biography that Miles was able to toilet train the bobcat as well (though Shelby was known for not letting the truth get in the way of a good story).

8. Ken Miles had a knack for sarcasm.

James T. Crow wrote an obituary for Ken Miles for Road & Track in which he wrote that Miles had "wit and charm like almost no one I’ve ever known. But if he could be elaborately polite, he also had a command of sarcasm that could make your teeth shrink." Crow’s obituary stands as one of the more complete reflections on who Miles was, and also observed that "It was said about [Miles] that he was his own worst enemy and this was undoubtedly true as he could have had almost anything he wanted if he could have been more tactful." Shelby at least was delighted by Miles’s total lack of tact.

9. Ken Miles saw himself as a mechanic first and a driver second.

Though he’s most remembered as a driver, Miles saw himself first and foremost as a mechanic. In A.J Baime’s book, Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans, Miles is quoted as saying “I am a mechanic. That has been the direction of my entire vocational life. Driving is a hobby, a relaxation for me, like golfing is to others.” Miles was hired on as the test driver and competition director for Shelby-American, a position that allowed him to use his mechanical expertise as well as his uncanny driving capability.

10. Ken Miles’s death changed the racing world.

On August 17, 1966, Ken Miles died when the Ford J-car he had been testing for almost an entire day at California's Riverside International Raceway flipped, crashed, and caught on fire, then broke into pieces and ejected Miles, who was killed instantly. But the J-car had been specifically designed to avoid this type of accident, and the damage done to the vehicle made it impossible to determine an exact cause for the crash.

"We really don't know what caused it," Carroll Shelby said. "The car just disintegrated. We have nobody to take his place. Nobody. He was our baseline, our guiding point. He was the backbone of our program. There will never be another Ken Miles."

Though it wasn’t uncommon for race car drivers to die in the 1960s, what was uncommon was the reaction Miles’s friends and family had to his death. Shelby said that it broke his heart when they lost Ken, and Shelby-American withdrew from Le Mans racing after 1967.

If there was a silver lining to Miles's death, it was that additional safety precautions—including a steel tube rollover cage—were implemented into the J-car's design that saved the lives of multiple other drivers, including a young Mario Andretti when he was involved in a similar crash a year later.

Ken Miles's death was a tragedy, for his young son and wife, for his team, and for the entirety of racing. Thanks to Ford v Ferrari though, Ken Miles is finally receiving the attention and recognition that should have been his all along.

11 Fun Facts About Dolly Parton

Brendon Thorne, Getty Images
Brendon Thorne, Getty Images

Over the past 50-some years, Dolly Parton has gone from a chipper country starlet to a worldwide icon of music and movies whose fans consistently pack a theme park designed (and named) in her honor. Dolly Parton is loved, lauded, and larger than life. But even her most devoted admirers might not know all there is to this Backwoods Barbie.

1. You won't find Dolly Parton on a Dollywood roller coaster.

Her theme park Dollywood offers a wide variety of attractions for all ages. Though she's owned it for more than 30 years, Parton has declined to partake in any of its rides. "My daddy used to say, 'I could never be a sailor. I could never be a miner. I could never be a pilot,' I am the same way," she once explained. "I have motion sickness. I could never ride some of these rides. I used to get sick on the school bus."

2. Dolly Parton once entered a Dolly Parton look-alike contest—and lost.


Getty Images

Apparently Parton doesn't do drag well. “At a Halloween contest years ago on Santa Monica Boulevard, where all the guys were dressed up like me, I just over-exaggerated my look and went in and just walked up on stage," she told ABC. "I didn’t win. I didn’t even come in close, I don’t think.”

3. Dolly Parton spent a fortune to recreate her childhood home.

Parton and her 11 siblings were raised in a small house in the mountains of Tennessee that lacked electricity and indoor plumbing. When Parton bought the place, she hired her brother Bobby to restore it to the way it looked when they were kids. "But we wanted it to be functional," she recounted on The Nate Berkus Show, "So I spent a couple million dollars making it look like I spent $50 on it! Even like in the bathroom, I made the bathroom so it looked like an outdoor toilet.” You do you, Dolly.

4. Dolly Parton won't apologize for Rhinestone.


Getty Images

Parton is well-known for her hit movies Steel Magnolias and 9 to 5, less so for the 1984 flop Rhinestone. The comedy musical about a country singer and a New York cabbie was critically reviled and fled from theaters in just four weeks. But while her co-star Sylvester Stallone has publicly regretted the vehicle, Parton declared in her autobiography My Life and Other Unfinished Business that she counts Rhinestone's soundtrack as some of her best work, especially "What a Heartache."

5. Dolly Parton is Miley Cyrus's godmother ... sort of.

"I'm her honorary godmother. I've known her since she was a baby," Parton told ABC of her close relationship with Miley Cyrus. "Her father (Billy Ray Cyrus) is a friend of mine. And when she was born, he said, 'You just have to be her godmother,' and I said, 'I accept.' We never did do a big ceremony, but I'm so proud of her, love her, and she's just like one of my own." Parton also played Aunt Dolly on Cyrus's series Hannah Montana.

6. Dolly Parton received death threats from the Ku Klux Klan.

A photo of Dolly Parton on stage
Getty Images

In the mid-2000s, Dollywood joined the ranks of family amusement parks participating in "Gay Days," a time when families with LGBTQ members are encouraged to celebrate together in a welcoming community environment. This riled the KKK, but their threats didn't scare Dolly. "I still get threats," she has admitted. "But like I said, I'm in business. I just don't feel like I have to explain myself. I love everybody."

7. Dolly Parton started her own "library" to promote literacy, and has given away more than 100 million books.

In 1995, the pop culture icon founded Dolly Parton's Imagination Library with the goal of encouraging literacy in her home state of Tennessee. Over the years, the program—built to mail children age-appropriate books—spread nationwide, as well as to Canada, the UK, and Australia. When word of the Imagination Library hit Reddit, the swarms of parents eager to sign their kids up crashed the Imagination Library site. It is now back on track, accepting new registrations and donations.

8. There's a statue of Dolly Parton in her hometown of Sevierville, Tennessee.

A stone's throw from Dollywood, Sevierville, Tennessee is where Parton grew up. Between stimulating tourism and her philanthropy, this proud native has given a lot back to her hometown. And Sevierville residents returned that appreciation with a life-sized bronze Dolly that sits barefoot, beaming, and cradling a guitar, just outside the county courthouse. The sculpture, made by local artist Jim Gray, was dedicated on May 3, 1987. Today it is the most popular stop on Sevierville's walking tour.

9. The cloned sheep Dolly was named after Dolly Parton.

In 1995 scientists successfully created a clone from an adult mammal's somatic cell. This game-changing breakthrough in biology was named Dolly. But what about Parton inspired this honor? Her own groundbreaking career? Some signature witticism or beloved lyric? Nope. It was her legendary bustline. English embryologist Ian Wilmut revealed, "Dolly is derived from a mammary gland cell and we couldn't think of a more impressive pair of glands than Dolly Parton's."

10. Dolly Parton turned down an offer from Elvis Presley.

After Parton made her own hit out of "I Will Always Love You," Elvis Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker, reached out in hopes of having Presley cover it. But part of the deal demanded Parton surrender half of the publishing rights to the song. "Other people were saying, 'You're nuts. It's Elvis Presley. I'd give him all of it!'" Parton admitted, "But I said, 'I can't do that. Something in my heart says don't do that.' And I didn't do it and they didn't do it." It may have been for the best. Whitney Houston's cover for The Bodyguard soundtrack in 1992 was a massive hit that has paid off again and again for Parton.

11. In 2018, Dolly Parton earned two Guinness World Records.

Parton is no stranger to breaking records. And on January 17, 2018 it was announced that she holds not one but two spot in the Guinness World Records 2018 edition: One for Most Decades With a Top 20 Hit on the US Hot Country Songs Chart (she beat out George Jones, Reba McEntire, and Elvis Presley for the honor) and the other for Most Hits on US Hot Country Songs Chart By a Female Artist (with a total of 107). Parton said she was "humbled and blessed."

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