Veteran star Joyce DeWitt first showed interest in acting in high school, where she took stage acting lessons from age 13. Born to parents Paul and Norma DeWitt on April 13, 1949, in Wheeling, West Virginia, young DeWitt’s father was unsupportive of her aspiration.
But she ultimately convinced him to allow her to major in theater during college. DeWitt attended Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, where she received her bachelor’s degree in Acting. The future Hollywood star later enrolled at the University of California, Los Angeles, and obtained a master’s degree.
DeWitt worked as a legal secretary after graduation and went to auditions in between. Months later, ABC gave her a chance to choose from two comedy pilots but expected a response from her after only 24 hours.
She swiftly read through both scripts and opted for the one about one man living with two women, “Three’s Company,” which later won the People’s Choice Award. DeWitt made an excellent choice because the other show never worked out.
“Three’s Company” was one of the most popular series during that era, and it aired from 1977 to 1984 for eight seasons. It centered on three roommates living in Santa Monica, which included two women and one man.
Due to their unconventional living arrangements at the time, frequent misunderstandings made for comedy. The series was in the Top 10 ratings during most of its time on air.
Although DeWitt had appeared on an episode of “Barretta,” including multiple plays, before being cast on the show, she became well-known as Janet Wood.
While shooting the show, she always wore pantyhose or tights and refused to work with her legs on display. In turn, this caused conflict between her and the producers. But it had a positive outcome as she later became the spokeswoman in the late 1970s for ‘L’eggs pantyhose.
DeWitt starred in the show alongside actress Suzanne Somers (Chrissy Snow) and actor John Ritter (Jack Tripper). They all pretended that Jack was gay to keep landlords at bay.While Ritter was already a familiar face on television and Somers wanted superstardom, DeWitt was not interested in fame despite taking the acting route. Author, Chris Mann, revealed in a March 2019 interview:
“Joyce was a theater actor. She, I don’t think, was prepared for the machinations of Hollywood at all. I don’t think she was ready for the publicity machine either, and she pulled back after she decided to put herself out there.”
DeWitt and Somers became friends but fell out because of a pay dispute. Somers had wanted a salary increment from $30,000 per episode to $150,000.
That created a rift not only between her and DeWitt but also between her and Ritter. While trying to fight her case with the producers, Somers and her husband, Alan Hamel, revealed Ritter’s salary, and she aired her grievances from the show to the media, which did not sit well with the Emmy Award winner...CONTINUE READING