List of Three's Company characters
The following is a list of major characters in the television series Three's Company.
- 1 Jack Tripper
- 2 Janet Wood
- 3 Chrissy Snow
- 4 Cindy Snow
- 5 Terri Alden
- 6 Stanley Roper
- 7 Helen Roper
- 8 Ralph Furley
- 9 Larry Dallas
- 10 Lana Shields
- 11 References
Jack Tripper was portrayed by John Ritter. The character was based on the character Robin Tripp of the British sitcom Man About the House and Robin's Nest. Jack was the main character on Three's Company and its spinoff Three's a Crowd.
Jack E. Tripper was a San Diego native who was a veteran of the United States Navy, where he was a member of a boxing team. He was 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 gate-crashers." 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 was 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 in order 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 was studying to be a chef at LA Tech and dreams about running a small French restaurant someday. After four years he graduated and become a full time chef. He had a lot of chef jobs in season 5, but he found a job that he dreamed about working is Frank Angelino's five star restaurant. He worked his way up to head chef and around season 7, he finally land his dream running his own French restaurant called Jack's Bistro. Jack had 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 displayed 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 was known for being a klutz. Much of the character's humor was derived from slapstick comedy. He was extremely clumsy and accident-prone, and was well known for his comic pratfalls. Jack was somewhat of a ladies' man and a playboy, but was 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). Jack had his own bedroom, while Janet and Chrissy shared a second bedroom. A poster of The Beatles as they appeared late in their career could 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.)
Jack attended a local technical college on the G.I. Bill to pursue a degree in culinary arts, and worked odd jobs from time to time. After completion of his schooling, he found full-time employment as a chef, working for a popular restaurant owner named Frank Angelino (Jordan Charney). Later, with Angelino's help and financial support, Jack eventually opened his own restaurant named Jack's Bistro.
After Three's Company
When Janet married Phillip Dawson in the series finale "Friends and Lovers," Jack proposed to flight attendant Vicky Bradford. Even though she loved him, Vicky turned Jack down since she didn't want to get married, and preferred that they live together instead. Jack refused at first, but then he changed his mind and they moved into the apartment above his bistro. Three's Company then ended its series run and the spin-off series Three's a Crowd began, 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) shared an apartment in Santa Monica, California, and needed a third roommate to help pay the rent after their old roommate, Eleanor, had a baby, got married, and decided to move out. On the morning after a going-away party they threw for Eleanor, Janet and Chrissy found Jack Tripper sleeping in their bathtub. Upon getting to know Jack, who was at the time staying at the local YMCA, Janet and Chrissy suggested that he move in as their new roommate. Their old-fashioned and curmudgeonly landlord, Stanley Roper, was not fond of the idea of a young man sharing an apartment with two young, attractive women. However, Janet convinced Roper that Jack was gay to alleviate the landlord's concern about the living arrangement. Thus, Jack was allowed to move in under this guise.
Janet worked in and ultimately managed the Arcade Flower Shop. She was very fond of plants, which were seen throughout the apartment.
Janet was from Speedway, Indiana. She had a sister named Jenny (who came for a visit in the episode "My Sister's Keeper"), and a brother whose name was never mentioned. She graduated from college, but her major was never revealed. She was the daughter of Ruth and Roland Wood. In the episode "Chrissy Come Home," Janet stated that her father was of Italian descent. She spoke Italian, although not fluently (as displayed in the episode "Loan Shark"). (Like her character, DeWitt is from Speedway, Indiana 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 roommate, or Janet being perceived as less spontaneous and sometimes acting and coping like Jack Tripper before going out on a date.
In the episode leading to the series finale of Three's Company, Janet met Phillip Dawson at the reading of a will. In the series finale "Friends and Lovers," Janet and Phillip married in the apartment with the rest of the gang in attendance. After Janet returned from her honeymoon, she and Phillip settled 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 explained 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 stated that her name was Christmas due to having been born in December. However, in the episode "Roper's Niece," Janet stated that Chrissy's birth was "not until January." Yet, in the Season 4 episode "Chrissy's Hospitality," Chrissy fell and hit her head, ending up in the hospital as a result. She explained 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 twenties, 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 would share 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 found a man in their bathtub who had passed out. After waking up, the man 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 was 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 was modeled as an ingenue, a minister's daughter who sought her fortune in the big city. As the naif, she frequently and unknowingly made suggestive double entendres and was often oblivious to the attention she received 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.
Somers had emerged as a breakout character in the show. In 1978, she appeared on 50 magazine covers. There were also best-selling Chrissy Snow posters 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, it was written in that Chrissy went back to Fresno to care for her ill mother. 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 Fresno and speak to one of them over the telephone. Soon after, 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" Janet was living with when she met Jack. From what was implied, Chrissy simply moved back home to Fresno to stay, and never kept in contact with her old roommates again.
Near the end of the series, Hamel tried unsuccessfully to convince the producers to have Somers return for the series finale, with Chrissy becoming Jack's love interest (as opposed, apparently, to the character of Vicky).
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 hailed from Fresno, was the daughter of Mr. Snow (Alan Manson), the niece of Reverend Luther Snow, and the first cousin of Christmas "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 was a very pretty girl, she claimed 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 away from the farm and into the apartment, taking Chrissy's place as the third member of the trio.
Cindy debuted on the show in 1980, when 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 became close friends. When Chrissy declined to return (and Somers' contract expired), Cindy's temporary stay became permanent. She also took Chrissy's old office job, working for Mr. Charles Hadley.
Although she shared 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 6 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. However, Cindy did continue to make appearances on the show during the sixth season, and was retained as a supporting character (and given cast billing credit). She had many pivotal appearances through mid-season, and became the trio's part-time housekeeper in the episode "Maid to Order," but still hung out with the trio.
Her last appearance was in the episode "Janet Wigs Out" near the end of Season 6. Cindy and Janet had a falling out when Janet bought a blonde wig and developed a condescending attitude toward her friends and others. When Janet wanted to keep her wig a secret from her date, Cindy tried to prevent herself from revealing the truth.
Terri Alden was portrayed by Priscilla Barnes.
Terri was born in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, worked as a registered nurse, and was portrayed as far less "ditzy" than her predecessors. She was 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 into his behind for a stubbed finger, he eventually forgave her and warmed up to her. It was Terri, in fact, who convinced Jack to move in with Victoria Bradford, 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 was more relaxed when off duty and out of uniform.
Stanley Roper was portrayed by Norman Fell.
Stanley owned and managed the apartment building in Santa Monica that was home to Jack Tripper, Janet Wood and Chrissy Snow. He had a love-hate relationship with his wife, Helen. Although they cared deeply for each other, Helen and Stanley regularly bickered and engaged in one-upsmanship, with Helen usually the intellectual victor. A significant amount of their tension was due to Helen's ongoing desire for romance with Stanley, while Stanley was 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 was sometimes known for spying on young women in bathing suits on the beach through his binoculars.
Stanley was generally friendly toward the trio, but could be very angry if the rent was late. He was also not above exploiting his tenants' fear of raised rents to get chores and favors done. He was told that Jack was homosexual in order to bypass any objections he might have to a man living with two women. He did not appear to dislike Jack or homosexuals in general, but he did see Jack's supposed homosexuality as a source of amusement, and made several jokes at his expense, often calling Jack "Tinkerbell."
Stanley was extremely cheap (as revealed in the episode "Stanley's Hotline," in which the trio called him "the cheapest man alive," and very much penny-wise, pound-foolish). Stanley drove 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 offered 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 moved to Cheviot Hills, California and lived next door to snobby real estate agent Jeffrey P. Brookes III (who eventually sold 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 didn't 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 wasn't sold and Stanley is stuck with buying it.
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). Mildred Roper was played by Yootha Joyce.
Helen always yearned for romance and sex with her uninterested husband, Stanley, and he almost never delivered, which frustrated her.
Helen enjoyed a friendship with the three tenants who lived above her: Jack Tripper, Janet Wood, and Chrissy Snow, whom she affectionately called "the kids." Helen, unlike her husband, knew that Jack was not gay, but out of fondness for the trio, played along with the charade. Contrary to her tightfisted and very suspicious husband, Helen did not mind that Jack lived with Janet and Chrissy, and was very understanding of their situation. She frequently tried to defuse tense situations between her husband and the trio.
Eventually, Helen and Stanley moved to Cheviot Hills, California, an affluent suburb of Los Angeles, where her natural snobbishness asserted itself, often aided and abetted by her sister, Ethel Armbruster, who clearly despised Stanley.
Despite her attempts at adopting the behavior of her more affluent neighbors, she still retained her kindness. She befriended Anne Brookes, the wife of Jeffrey Brookes III, a real estate agent who lived next door, and enjoyed 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 (again?). 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 into the bedroom 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 was portrayed by legendary comedy actor Don Knotts.
Ralph Furley was the landlord and manager of a Santa Monica apartment building that was now owned by his brother, Bart, who acquired it from Stanley Roper. It was the home of Jack Tripper, Larry Dallas, Janet Wood and Chrissy Snow (and later Cindy Snow and Terri Alden). Mr. Furley fancied himself a playboy, a "ladies' man," and a "macho man," despite the facts that he hadn't had a date in years and was not appealing to women at all.
Mr. Furley was very subservient and seemed to fear his brother Bart.
Although, Mr. Furley probably wouldn't have cared so much himself, but his brother Bart would've had not tolerance for it, Mr. Furley, like Stanley Roper before him, was also tricked into believing that Jack was gay in order 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). Mr. Furley probably wouldn't have cared so much himself, but he knew his brother Bart would never tolerate a straight man living with two woman. Also, like Mr. Roper, Mr. Furley liked to occasionally crack gay jokes about Jack at his expense (calling Jack "Tippy Toes" as opposed to Mr. Roper's "Tinkerbell").
Although Mr. Furley's brother Bart was frequently mentioned by him, the character only appeared in one episode, played by Hamilton Camp. Mr. Furley defended 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 was based on Larry Simmonds from the British sitcom Man About the House. He lived upstairs from Jack Tripper, Janet Wood, and Chrissy Snow, and he was Jack's best friend. He was also a womanizing playboy who often lied about his occupation to impress girls, claiming to be "Playboy's best photographer," a doctor, an airline pilot, etc.; his actual profession was a used-car salesman. He habitually used 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 was 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 was of Greek descent, though this fact and his original last name were mentioned only in the episode where Jack opens Jack's Bistro, in which Larry explained that he shortened it to "Dallas" because he "could never spell 'Dalliapoulos' ".
Larry had 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 stated that he had moved to Bakersfield due to downturns in the used-car business.
Lana Shields was portrayed by Ann Wedgeworth.
Lana Shields was a bosomy, amorous, older, three-time divorcee who had an unrequited crush on Jack Tripper. She was constantly flirting with Jack, and tried to seduce him every time she was in his presence, while Jack, on the other hand, tried his best to avoid Lana at all costs, especially around new landlord Ralph Furley, who, like Mr. Roper before him, was deceived into believing that Jack was gay in order for Jack to continue living with Janet and Chrissy. Unlike Jack, though, Mr. Furley was attracted to Lana and regularly tried to "put the moves on her," but she disliked him, which he never came to realize.
Lana's first appearance was in the episode "Love Thy Neighbor" from Season 4, in which Jack took a job as a male escort, which was how he first met Lana, in order to make some quick cash. But he soon learned that Lana wanted to do much more with him than just have a casual dinner out on the town.
In the very next episode, "The New Landlord" (which introduced Mr. Furley), the trio accidentally sold all of Mr. Furley's furniture to a junk dealer, thinking it was furniture Mr. Roper left behind, and not realizing it belonged to their new landlord (who had not met anyone in the building yet). Mr. Furley became angry and gave the trio an eviction notice, but upon meeting Lana, he immediately became smitten. Mr. Furley and the trio then made a deal: Mr. Furley gets a date with Lana, and the trio won't have to move.
Even though she doesn't like Mr. Furley, Lana did seduce him on several occasions--to use him to get what she wanted. For example, in one episode she used 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 tricked Mr. Furley into going on a camping trip so she could be near Jack, who was talked into going for the weekend by his best friend Larry Dallas.
However, not long after this now-legendary episode, Lana disappeared from the show without explanation. Her final appearance was in the episode "A Black Letter Day." In the episode, Lana read a newspaper advice column about a man living with two female roommates, and the man was having an affair with one of them, and she assumed 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 didn't believe that the middle-aged Lana, only meant to be in her forties (whereas Jack was in his late twenties/early thirties), 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.