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

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.

YouTube

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.

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Marvel Entertainment
10 Facts About Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian
Marvel Entertainment
Marvel Entertainment

Nearly every sword-wielding fantasy hero from the 20th century owes a tip of their horned helmet to Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian. Set in the fictional Hyborian Age, after the destruction of Atlantis but before our general recorded history, Conan's stories have depicted him as everything from a cunning thief to a noble king and all types of scoundrel in between. But beneath that blood-soaked sword and shield is a character that struck a nerve with generations of fantasy fans, spawning adaptations in comics, video games, movies, TV shows, and cartoons in the eight decades since he first appeared in the December 1932 issue of Weird Tales. So thank Crom, because here are 10 facts about Conan the Barbarian.

1. THE FIRST OFFICIAL CONAN STORY WAS A KULL REWRITE.

Conan wasn’t the only barbarian on Robert E. Howard’s resume. In 1929, the writer created Kull the Conqueror, a more “introspective” brand of savage that gained enough interest to eventually find his way onto the big screen in 1997. The two characters share more than just a common creator and a general disdain for shirts, though: the first Conan story to get published, “The Phoenix on the Sword,” was actually a rewrite of an earlier rejected Kull tale titled “By This Axe I Rule!” For this new take on the plot, Howard introduced supernatural elements and more action. The end result was more suited to what Weird Tales wanted, and it became the foundation for future Conan tales.

2. BUT A “PROTO-CONAN” STORY PRECEDED IT.

A few months before Conan made his debut in Weird Tales, Howard wrote a story called "People of the Dark" for Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror about a man named John O’Brien who seemed to relive his past life as a brutish, black-haired warrior named … Conan of the reavers. Reave is a word from Old English meaning to raid or plunder, which is obviously in the same ballpark as barbarian. And in the story, there is also a reference to Crom, the fictional god of the Hyborian age that later became a staple of the Conan mythology. This isn't the barbarian as we know him, and it's certainly not an official Conan tale, but the early ideas were there.

3. ROBERT E. HOWARD NEVER INTENDED TO WRITE THESE STORIES IN ORDER.

Howard was meticulous in his world-building for Conan, which was highlighted by his 8600-word history on the Hyborian Age the character lived in. But the one area the creator had no interest in was linearity. Conan’s first story depicted him already as a king; subsequent stories, though, would shift back and forth, chronicling his early days as both a thief and a youthful adventurer.

There’s good reason for that, as Howard himself once explained: “In writing these yarns I've always felt less as creating them than as if I were simply chronicling his adventures as he told them to me. That's why they skip about so much, without following a regular order. The average adventurer, telling tales of a wild life at random, seldom follows any ordered plan, but narrates episodes widely separated by space and years, as they occur to him.”

4. THERE ARE NUMEROUS CONNECTIONS TO THE H.P. LOVECRAFT MYTHOS.

For fans of the pulp magazines of the early 20th century, one of the only names bigger than Robert E. Howard was H.P. Lovecraft. The two weren’t competitors, though—rather, they were close friends and correspondents. They’d often mail each other drafts of their stories, discuss the themes of their work, and generally talk shop. And as Lovecraft’s own mythology was growing, it seems like their work began to bleed together.

In “The Phoenix on the Sword,” Howard made reference to “vast shadowy outlines of the Nameless Old Ones,” which could be seen as a reference to the ancient, godlike “Old Ones” from the Lovecraft mythos. In the book The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, editor Patrice Louinet even wrote that Howard’s earlier draft for the story name-dropped Lovecraft’s actual Old Ones, most notably Cthulhu.

In Lovecraft’s “The Shadow of Time,” he describes a character named Crom-Ya as a “Cimmerian chieftain,” which is a reference to Conan's homeland and god. These examples just scratch the surface of names, places, and concepts that the duo’s work share. Whether you want to read it all as a fun homage or an early attempt at a shared universe is up to you.

5. SEVERAL OF HOWARD’S STORIES WERE REWRITTEN AS CONAN STORIES POSTHUMOUSLY.

Howard was only 30 when he died, so there aren’t as many completed Conan stories out in the world as you’d imagine—and there are even less that were finished and officially printed. Despite that, the character’s popularity has only grown since the 1930s, and publishers looked for a way to print more of Howard’s Conan decades after his death. Over the years, writers and editors have gone back into Howard’s manuscripts for unfinished tales to doctor up and rewrite for publication, like "The Snout in the Dark," which was a fragment that was reworked by writers Lin Carter and L. Sprague de Camp. There were also times when Howard’s non-Conan drafts were repurposed as Conan stories by publishers, including all of the stories in 1955's Tales of Conan collection from Gnome Press.

6. FRANK FRAZETTA’S CONAN PAINTINGS REGULARLY SELL FOR SEVEN FIGURES.

Chances are, the image of Conan you have in your head right now owes a lot to artist Frank Frazetta: His version of the famous barbarian—complete with rippling muscles, pulsating veins, and copious amounts of sword swinging—would come to define the character for generations. But the look that people most associate with Conan didn’t come about until the character’s stories were reprinted decades after Robert E. Howard’s death.

“In 1966, Lancer Books published new paperbacks of Robert E. Howard's Conan series and hired my grandfather to do the cover art,” Sara Frazetta, Frazetta's granddaughter owner and operator of Frazetta Girls, tells Mental Floss. You could argue that Frazetta’s powerful covers were what drew most people to Conan during the '60s and '70s, and in recent years the collector’s market seems to validate that opinion. In 2012, the original painting for his Lancer version of Conan the Conqueror sold at auction for $1,000,000. Later, his Conan the Destroyer went for $1.5 million.

Still, despite all of Frazetta’s accomplishments, his granddaughter said there was one thing he always wanted: “His only regret was that he wished Robert E. Howard was alive so he could have seen what he did with his character.”

7. CONAN’S FIRST MARVEL COMIC WAS ALMOST CANCELED AFTER SEVEN ISSUES.

The cover to Marvel's Conan the Barbarian #21
Marvel Entertainment

Conan’s origins as a pulp magazine hero made him a natural fit for the medium’s logical evolution: the comic book. And in 1970, the character got his first high-profile comic launch when Marvel’s Conan The Barbarian hit shelves, courtesy of writer Roy Thomas and artist Barry Windsor-Smith.

Though now it’s hailed as one of the company’s highlights from the ‘70s, the book was nearly canceled after a mere seven issues. The problem is that while the debut issue sold well, each of the next six dropped in sales, leading Marvel’s then editor-in-chief, Stan Lee, to pull the book from production after the seventh issue hit stands.

Thomas pled his case, and Lee agreed to give Conan one last shot. But this time instead of the book coming out every month, it would be every two months. The plan worked, and soon sales were again on the rise and the book would stay in publication until 1993, again as a monthly. This success gave way to the Savage Sword of Conan, an oversized black-and-white spinoff magazine from Marvel that was aimed at adult audiences. It, too, was met with immense success, lasting from 1974 to 1995.

8. OLIVER STONE WROTE A FOUR-HOUR, POST-APOCALYPTIC CONAN MOVIE.

John Milius’s 1982 Conan movie is a classic of the sword and sorcery genre, but its original script from Oliver Stone didn’t resemble the final product at all. In fact, it barely resembled anything related to Conan. Stone’s Conan would have been set on a post-apocalyptic Earth, where the barbarian would do battle against a host of mutant pigs, insects, and hyenas. Not only that, but it would have also been just one part of a 12-film saga that would be modeled on the release schedule of the James Bond series.

The original producers were set to move ahead with Stone’s script with Stone co-directing alongside an up-and-coming special effects expert named Ridley Scott, but they were turned down by all of their prospects. With no co-director and a movie that would likely be too ambitious to ever actually get finished, they sold the rights to producer Dino De Laurentiis, who helped bring in Milius.

9. BARACK OBAMA IS A FAN (AND WAS TURNED INTO A BARBARIAN HIMSELF).

When President Barack Obama sent out a mass email in 2015 to the members of Organizing for Action, he was looking to get people to offer up stories about how they got involved within their community—their origin stories, if you will. In this mass email, the former Commander-in-Chief detailed his own origin, with a shout out to a certain barbarian:

“I grew up loving comic books. Back in the day, I was pretty into Conan the Barbarian and Spiderman.

Anyone who reads comics can tell you, every main character has an origin story—the fateful and usually unexpected sequence of events that made them who they are.”

This bit of trivia was first made public in 2008 in a Daily Telegraph article on 50 facts about the president. That led to Devil’s Due Publishing immortalizing the POTUS in the 2009 comic series Barack the Barbarian, which had him decked out in his signature loincloth doing battle against everyone from Sarah Palin to Dick Cheney.

10. J.R.R. TOLKIEN WAS ALSO A CONAN DEVOTEE.

The father of 20th century fantasy may always be J.R.R. Tolkien, but Howard is a close second in many fans' eyes. Though Tolkien’s work has found its way into more scholarly literary circles, Howard’s can sometimes get categorized as low-brow. Quality recognizes quality, however, and during a conversation with Tolkien, writer L. Sprague de Camp—who himself edited and touched-up numerous Conan stories—said The Lord of the Rings author admitted that he “rather liked” Howard’s Conan stories during a conversation with him. He didn’t expand upon it, nor was de Camp sure which Conan tale he actually read (though it was likely “Shadows in the Moonlight”), but the seal of approval from Tolkien himself goes a long way toward validation.

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iStock
The Annual Festivals That Draw the Most People in Every State
iStock
iStock

Every state has that one big event each year that draws residents from across the region or even across the nation. Louisiana has Mardi Gras. Kentucky has the Kentucky Derby. South Dakota has Sturgis. Genfare, a company that provides fare collection technology for transit companies, recently tracked down the biggest event in each state, creating a rundown of the can't-miss events across the country.

As the graphic below explores, some states' biggest public events are national music and entertainment festivals, like Bonnaroo in Tennessee, SXSW in Texas, and Summerfest in Wisconsin—which holds the world record for largest music festival.

Others are standard public festival fare. Minnesota hosts 2 million people a year at the Minnesota State Fair (pictured above), the largest of its kind in the U.S. by attendance. Mardi Gras celebrations dominate the events calendar in Missouri, Alabama, and, of course, Louisiana. Oktoberfest and other beer festivals serve as the biggest gatherings in Ohio (home to the nation's largest Oktoberfest event), Oregon, Colorado, and Utah.

In some states, though, the largest annual gatherings are a bit more unique. Some 50,000 people each year head to Brattleboro, Vermont for the Strolling of the Heifers, a more docile spin on the Spanish Running of the Bulls. Montana's biggest event is Evel Knievel Days, an extreme sports festival in honor of the famous daredevil. And Washington's biggest event is Hoopfest, Spokane's annual three-on-three basketball tournament.

Mark your calendar. Next year could be the year you attend them all.

A graphic list with the 50 states pictured next to information about their biggest events
Genfare

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