Joyce DeWitt

Actress, House painter
A feisty brunette with a knack for light comedy and musicals, Joyce DeWitt rose to fame in the mid-1970s as Janet Wood, the headstrong and seemingly normal roommate of John Ritter and Suzanne Somers' odd trio on the ... Read more »
Born: 04/22/1949 in Wheeling, West Virginia, USA

Filmography

Actor (31)

My Boyfriend's Dogs 2014 - 2015 (TV Show)

Actor

Failing Better Now 2008 (Movie)

(Actor)

TV Land Awards: A Celebration of Classic TV 2004 - 2005 (TV Show)

Actor

A Life of Laughter: Remembering John Ritter 2003 - 2004 (TV Show)

Actor

Suzanne Somers: The E! True Hollywood Story 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)

Actor

Twitch City 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Actor

Hope Island 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

TV Guide's Truth Behind the Sitcoms 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

Three's Company: The E! True Hollywood Story 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

Cybill 1995 - 1998 (Tv Show)

Actor

Living Single 1997 - 1998 (Tv Show)

Actor

Stand-Up Comics Take a Stand! 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

Saturday's the Place 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

The Real Trivial Pursuit 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

Battle of the Network Stars VIII 1979 - 1980 (TV Show)

Actor

Cheryl Ladd... Looking Back--Souvenirs 1979 - 1980 (TV Show)

Actor

John Ritter: Being of Sound Mind and Body 1979 - 1980 (TV Show)

Actor

Perry Como's Christmas in New Mexico 1979 - 1980 (TV Show)

Actor

Steve Martin: Comedy Is Not Pretty 1979 - 1980 (TV Show)

Actor

The Celebrity Football Classic 1979 - 1980 (TV Show)

Actor

Battle of the Network Stars V 1978 - 1979 (TV Show)

Actor

Celebrity Challenge of the Sexes 1978 - 1979 (TV Show)

Actor

Risko 1975 - 1976 (TV Show)

Actor

Spring Fling! (TV Show)

Actor

The B.B. Beegle Show (TV Show)

Actor

Three's Company (TV Show)

Actor

With This Ring (TV Show)

Actor

Biography

A feisty brunette with a knack for light comedy and musicals, Joyce DeWitt rose to fame in the mid-1970s as Janet Wood, the headstrong and seemingly normal roommate of John Ritter and Suzanne Somers' odd trio on the innuendo-heavy sitcom, "Three's Company" (ABC, 1977-1984). A theater performer since childhood, she headed out to Los Angeles after college to make her way in show business, but struggled until landing her role on "Company." An acrimonious relationship with Somers lead to DeWitt abandoning Hollywood for the relative calm of the stage, where she remained for much of the next three decades, aside from occasional TV appearances. The enduring popularity of "Company" in reruns, however, assured DeWitt some degree of lasting fame.

Born Joyce Anne DeWitt in Wheeling, WV on April 23, 1949, she and her three siblings were raised by parents Norma and Paul DeWitt in Speedway, a suburb of Indianapolis, IN. She developed an interest in acting while in high school and, despite her father's objections, majored in theater at Ball State University in Muncie, IN. A master's degree in Fine Arts from UCLA soon followed, and by the early 1970s, DeWitt was juggling numerous TV and film auditions with work as a legal secretary and occasional house painter. Guest shots on various series preceded her big break when ABC offered her a choice of two comedy pilots. DeWitt read both and chose "Three's Company" - a wise decision, since the latter unnamed series never made it to air, and the former was one of the biggest hits of the decade.

DeWitt's Janet served as an anchor of normalcy for the show's characters. Where John Ritter's Jack Tripper operated on pure zany libido, and Suzanne Somers' Chrissy Snow floated by on naiveté, Janet was no-nonsense to a fault; frequently pulling her friends down to earth when their schemes threatened to upset the (relative) calm of their apartment life. DeWitt brought a perky charm to her performance, but she was all but overshadowed by the response from male viewers to Somers' physical appeal. In time, that attention would go to Somers' head, and by its fifth season, the blonde bombshell was refusing to appear at tapings because her demands for pay increases went unmet. Such behavior was galling to Ritter and DeWitt, who eventually refused to work with her. All three would continue to act on the show, but not appear together in scenes until Somers was fired at the end of the season. She was soon replaced by Jenilee Harrison as Chrissy's cousin, and later Priscilla Barnes, who became a lifelong friend to DeWitt.

The experience on "Three's Company" left a bad taste in DeWitt's mouth in regard to Hollywood, and despite the popularity of the show, she slowly extricated herself from the community to concentrate on national and regional theater. There were a handful of guest shots on episodic series, as well as a stint as the spokesperson for L'eggs hosiery in the 1970s; the latter was predicated on her fondness for wearing pantyhose or tights during her stint on the series. By the late 1980s, she had disappeared entirely from television and features, which inevitably lead to several rounds of "where are they now?" features on entertainment news programs. The answer, invariably, was that DeWitt was busy on stage in a variety of comedies, dramas and musicals.

Eventually, DeWitt began making appearances on screen again in the late 1990s. There was even a rare lead in the independent feature "Spring Fling!" (1995), which cast her as a teacher who finds herself in a romance with an old boyfriend while leading a group of boys on a field trip. In 2003, DeWitt served as co-producer and on-screen host for "Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Three's Company" (NBC), a fairly sour take on the drama that ensued between Somers, her co-stars and the network during the series' first five seasons. The film's viewpoint was quite lopsided: DeWitt (played by Melanie Deanne Moore) was portrayed as a hard-working, infinitely patient trooper, while Somers (Jud Tylor) was a voracious social climber fueled by her near-berserk manager-husband, Alan Hamel (Christopher Shyer). Most critics, who found the project somewhat lacking, were not surprised to see that neither Ritter nor Somers were associated with the project.

For much of the new millennium, DeWitt was busy on stage in productions of "Dinner with Friends" and "The Last Night of Ballyhoo" in Canada and other stage work, as well as occasional TV appearances. She returned to the glare of the spotlight in September 2003 when her beloved co-star, John Ritter, died suddenly of a heart attack brought on by a genetic tearing of the aorta. She, along with Somers, paid tribute to the actor in live interviews on various programs. Then, after a calm of six years, she made headlines in 2009 for an arrest for suspicion of DUI in El Segundo, CA, after driving past a police barricade during the fourth of July weekend.

Relationships

Ray Buktenica Actor

Companion
Lived together for several years before the relationship ended in 1980

Levar Burton Actor

Companion
Dated for six months no longer together

Henry Bushkin Actor

Companion
Dated for several years no longer together

Paul DeWitt

Father

Norma DeWitt

Mother

EDUCATION

Ball State University

Muncie , Indiana

University of California at Los Angeles

Los Angeles , California

Milestones

2011

Made NY stage debut in the title role of "Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating & Marriage!"

2003

Co-produced and narrated the NBC TV-movie "Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Three's Company"

1998

Played herself in an episode of "Living Single" (FOX)

1982

Made film debut in "Airplane II: The Sequel"

1979

Guest-starred on an episode of the "Three's Company spin-off series, "The Ropers" (ABC)

1977

Best known for her role as Janet Wood on the ABC comedy "Three's Company"

1975

Made TV debut on an episode of "Baretta" (ABC)

Formed a friendship with actor Abe Vigoda, while painting his house

Bonus Trivia

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DeWitt was arrested July 4, 2009 on suspicion of DUI in El Segundo, CA

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