Food You Can Eat: Celebrity Sunday Matinee: Joyce DeWitt’s Diet Regimen

See you at The Reagle Beagle, Janet!

During the 1981 edition of "Battle of the Network Stars" coach Gabe ("Mr. Kotter") Kaplan consoled Joyce DeWitt over the tanking ratings of the Suzanne Somers-free "Three's Company."

Before I begin, when I looked for inspiration for today’s installment of CSM I learned that tons of celebs share this birthday. Google this yourself. But since I already did Suzanne Somers I thought I should balance that out with the forgotten other woman from Three’s Company. And before I get into that, Three’s Company is “based on” a British sitcom called Man About the House. No it’s not, it’s a complete and total rip-off, right down to character names, occupations…you can see episodes of Man About the House on Youtube, if you want to look for that, and I encourage you to do so because the Jack character (he’s named Robin) has this amazing faux-fur/faux-Flintstones jacket thing he’s often seen wearing, very Sonny Bono pre-divorce from Cher, and their landlords, the Ropers (yes, that is their name) also embody a certain British style circa 1972. The only confusing thing is the ditzy blonde is named Jo, not Chrissy, and the sensible raven-haired one is named Chrissy, not Janet, which FINALLY leads us back to Joyce DeWitt. 

Joyce’s resume is a little thin, sadly. She was born in Wheeling, WV, and grew up in Speedway, Indiana. This must be where the Indy 500 is held? She went to Ball State and must have overlapped with America’s most famous gap-toothed former weatherman/Ball State alumnus David Letterman. Then she went off to UCLA to get an MFA in theater.

She made her small-screen debut on Baretta, and boy would I like to see that, and I’m sure I did when it was originally broadcast because my parents were big fans. She screen-tested for Three’s Company. She got the part! But talk about a poisoned chalice.

There are several terms for what Three’s Company was, “T&A TV” being one of them. So you have Suzanne Somers providing the T&A, you have the extremely gifted John Ritter (nepo-baby, son of Tex Ritter) providing the physical comedy, and Joyce…was kind of like Shemp. I won’t explain what I mean by this. ADD TO THAT you had Norman Fell and Audra Lindley as the Roper landlords, and the horn-dog neighbor stopping by all the time, I can’t remember who he was, and that makes for a very crowded sitcom premise. Some shows, like Seinfeld, could pull it off, and Cheers, but Three’s Company was never really meant to be an ensemble comedy with that many members in the ensemble. I’m guessing, anyway, because Janet/Joyce didn’t get a lot of air time from the writers or the directors or producers.

Then, Suzanne Somers, realizing that so many viewers watched the show for her, in the same way that men bought Playboy to read the articles, made some contract demands. The network said no, and she said “Goodbye and good luck.” I bet the language wasn’t quite that G-rated. John Ritter and Joyce DeWitt soldiered on. They went through two Chrissy replacements, and the ratings just got worse and worse. Finally the execs put the needle in and brought it to a compassionate end. 

And speaking of that, suffice it to say that Joyce DeWitt never did something as successful as Three’s Company ever again, although she did some interesting and little-seen stuff. There may have to be a Part 2, but for now let’s draw this to a merciful end and move along to find out how Joyce still looks so ageless. Seriously. She’s of Italian descent, despite the name, maybe that helps. 

I don’t have any recipe per se, but I do have excerpts from an interview she gave to betternutrition.com.

Waking up to a protein-rich breakfast—often including scrambled eggs—supercharges the effervescent actress’s day ahead. “It’s really essential to put some protein in your body in the morning, because it burns so much slower than carbs,” she says.

I couldn’t agree more. And could I add that vodka has absolutely zero carbs, so you could wash your eggs down with a healthy and nutritious Bloody Mary. Or maybe not. On July 4, 2009, DeWitt was pulled over for suspected drunken driving in El Segundo (that’s where LAX is, but west of that is the nice part and the ocean) and ordered to undergo a mandatory nine-month alcohol program. 

“For me, particularly when I’m working, and because I don’t have to make three meals a day for a family, I tend to eat five or six little meals. Lunch for me often is a slice of turkey wrapped around string cheese. I eat two of those and I’m done. Three hours later, I’ll want a half of an apple with almond butter on it. And three hours later I’ll make up some chicken and toss up a salad. And I eat plenty of vegetables—I love broccoli!”

Joyce was in a romantic relationship with an “actor/director” for a while during the beginning of the Three’s Company years but never married him and never had children. But you are seen, Joyce. I’ve never had children either. When I’m on vacation and I don’t have to do the cooking and Better Half is picking up the tab I, too, eat five or six meals a day. MY problem is none of those meals would be a buttered half an apple, I’ve never heard of such a thing, and might include something like a bistecca alla fiorentina the size of my head eaten at 10 pm. Also, turkey-wrapped string cheese sounds like something a social media underling would come up with under deadline pressure. No. The thing to do is, you get out your special charcuterie board  and survey the contents of your fridge. Be modest if you must, and pick only one meat and one cheese.

“My personal experience using pure, raw cacao thus far is that this is very accurate—at least for my body’s chemistry.”

Now we’re talking. Maybe something like this?

To sweeten tea while dining out or on the go, “I have a little dropper bottle of stevia that’s in my purse all the time,” she says.

Aside from the very Hillary “I have a packet of hot sauce in my purse at all times” (what 70-something from whitebread suburban Chicago wouldn’t?) feel to this comment, I can cosign, because when Better Half and I first started living together in New York we were b-r-o-k-e and we’d go to cheap diners. I used to adulterate my small Cokes with my dropper bottle of stevia, otherwise known as a smuggled-in nip bottle of rum, when the surly Greek waiter wasn’t looking.

And there we have it, friends.

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4 Comments

  1. Peanut butter on an apple is a lunchtime staple where I grew up. I had a friend in my mid 20s from Georgia and she discovered that as an adult and was blown away. I was like you’re from Jimmy Carter peanut farm Georgia and you didn’t grow up eating apples and peanut butter???

    Anyways, I’m sure it’s basically the same with almond butter, just pricier. Maybe go all out and use those fancy honeycrisp apples for it, too.

  2. The thing is, the show was pretty successful. It trudged along for eight years, and DeWitt hung in there the whole time. Suzanne left, the Ropers left, but she and Ritter soldiered on to the bitter end. And it was apparently bitter — Ritter accepted a spin-off called Three’s A Crowd or something like that without including DeWitt. The show was developed in secret without any of the cast but Ritter knowing about it. That pretty much put a stake in DeWitt’s career. Reportedly, Suzanne tried to get rehired for the new show, but they didn’t go for it. The new show barely lasted a season.

    TV was weird back then. Very, very weird.

    • One of my favorite type of TV show is where a castmember of a popular TV show will present, decades later, a “Behind the Scenes” show about that very same show. Dawn Wells hosted one about “Gilligan’s Island” that was amazing. Watch that if you can find it.

      There was also a “Partridge Family” one but I can’t remember who from the cast hosted that, if anyone. In that one we learn that as time went on Shirley Jones/Mrs. Partridge would sometimes slip and forget herself so when there was an on-set dispute she would say to one of her “children”, “Go to your room” and point up the living room stairs. Problem was that was a Hollywood set and the stairs went nowhere.

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