September 12, 2012

Pop Culture Reunion: Three's Company & John Ritter Tribute

Today's post is a day late ... well, sort of.  For most Americans, September 11 marks the anniversary of the World Trade Center destruction by terrorists in 2001 (as well as attempts to hijack a commercial plane into the Pentagon which were foiled by American passengers on that flight).  As a result, the media coverage is typically fixated on the anniversary of those events.  However, September 11 also marks a pop culture anniversary of sorts: the death of actor John Ritter, who died (at age 54) rather unexpectedly on September 11, 2003 of heart failure.  Mr. Ritter was best known for his role of the goofy Jack Tripper on the 1970s to 1980s TV sitcom "Three's Company".

You can catch one classic iteration of the classic "Three's Company" theme song by visiting http://amzn.to/U8hNiA.

In "Three's Company", Mr. Ritter played a character who pretended to be gay so he could share an apartment with two, single women as his roommates.  It was based on a similarly-themed British TV show known as "Man About the House".  While the notion of a landlord being able to prevent certain types of tenants from co-habitating is pretty much illegal today, in the 1970s, it could be done, hence the core theme of "Three's Company".

NPR's "All Things Considered" featured a story of Mr. Ritter's death on September 12, 2003.  That can be listened to below, or by visiting http://n.pr/PcsbG4:


So far, I've only addressed the late John Ritter, but the original cast of "Three's Company" (ABC, 1977-1984) were Suzanne Somers, Joyce DeWitt as well as the late John Ritter.  Suzanne Somers and Joyce DeWitt did not talk to each other after Suzanne was replaced on the show due to a contract dispute.  After 31 years of not speaking, the two surviving original cast members were reunited briefly in a video which can be seen today online.  The depature of Suzanne Somers had many rumors associated with it back in the day, but the reality was about fairness in pay, so Somers, who played Chrissy Snow, was let go from the show.  Joyce DeWitt, who played Janet Wood stayed on along with Mr. Ritter.  However, rumors of DeWitt's disdain for Somers, among others, were widespread, and the fact that the two former cast members never spoke again added apparent credibility to the rumors, although as the following reunion proves, those rumors were unfounded.  Have a look at the following two YouTube clips:

Part 1: The Reunion of Two Former "Three's Company" Cast Members
See http://youtu.be/ks2NtZrSW8E


Part 2: The Surviving Cast Members Remember John Ritter
See http://youtu.be/Uq_XuhiXTWQ


You may also visit NBC's "The Today Show" for a clip at http://on.today.com/zcz3Vg.

Over it's lengthy duration (it ran for a now unheard-of 8 seasons on ABC), the show evolved with the times, and after Chrissy's departure, another ditzy blond character replaced her, first with Cindy Snow (Chrissy's cousin), who was later replaced by Priscilla Barnes as Terri Alden, who was blonde but far less ditzy, since she was trained as a Registered Nurse.  Also, the Roper's, the landlords in the first three seasons, were replaced (as they left to star in their own spinoff known as "The Ropers", which as I write this, is now airing on Antenna TV) and replaced by a TV legend, the late Don Knotts (known for his role on "The Andy Griffith Show" for his role of Barney Fife from the day's when TV was recorded in black and white).

"Three's Company" is still airing on Antenna TV, and all seasons have been released on DVD as well, so all have been digitized, hence the options for watching this show are varied, ranging from live streaming, or on the Android and iTunes app known as TV.com.

However, this posting is meant to honor the passing of John Ritter (who's father, as my grandparents reminded me, was Tex Ritter, an American country music singer and movie actor popular from the mid-1930s into the 1960s).  His presence on TV is missed.

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