Welcome to a new Wildcard Wednesday! This week, I’m paying tribute to the late Suzanne Somers, who sadly passed away last Sunday. Remembered by fans for her entrepreneurial spirit following her firing from Three’s Company, this sitcom diva’s talent has often been dismissed, largely because her shows are dismissed. In addition to regular roles on She’s The Sheriff and the long-running Step By Step — two series, okay, that weren’t great — her quick growth as a comedic actress during the golden years of Three’s Company, a reliably funny romp that’s emblematic of the late ’70s and early ’80s, is truly impressive and deserving of praise.
Although her role as Chrissy Snow eventually broadened to the point of near absurdity before the actress’ acrimonious departure — we won’t get into that now — Somers helped turn a barely defined dumb blonde part into a laugh-out-loud powerhouse, capable of carrying big comedy and believably motivating silly story. When discussing the series and her work on it, we usually focus on its larger-than-life and cartoony attributes (the characters were not very bright, so the show is often considered not very bright either), but her instincts as a performer made her a dynamic partner for the genius John Ritter and a congenial contrast to the balancing Joyce DeWitt. And when the show was thriving as the one-act bedroom farce it was designed to be, she was charming — a brilliant teammate who helped raise everyone’s game.
Beyond sitcoms, she also conquered movies, Vegas, and even Broadway. That’s right, Somers appeared in her own one-woman show on the Great White Way, The Blonde In The Thunderbird, which had a limited run in summer 2005. I didn’t have the pleasure of seeing it, but in honor of her passing, I thought I’d share — with subscribers who comment below to alert me of their private, non-commercial interest — access to a live audio recording of the show. Here’s an excerpt, where Somers sings “Fifty Percent” from the 1978 musical Ballroom.
And for my sitcom fans, I’ll throw in something that hasn’t been released on DVD. It’s the second season premiere of The Ropers, “The Party” (09/15/79) — sometimes aired in Three’s Company syndication packages as “Stanley, The Ladies Man” — which guests John Ritter, Joyce DeWitt, and Suzanne Somers as Jack, Janet, and Chrissy. Now, it is an episode of The Ropers, so don’t expect much, but for Three’s Company lovers, it’s a must-have. Here’s a brief clip.
Rest well, Suzanne Somers!
Come back next week for another Wildcard and the start of our look at Scrubs!