Interview With Richard Kline (Larry Dallas On Three’s Company)

Posted: 12/22/2016 in Actors, ICON, Television

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Interview Done By Mike Wilkerson

Mike: Please introduce yourself?
Mr. Kline:I’m Richard Kline. aka Larry 
Dallas. aka Larry Dalliapolis. I am NOT Greek.
 
Mike: How did you get into show business?
Mr. Kline:I received a BA in Speech at Queens College, NY and  Masters Degree at Northwestern University.
After NU, I went to an open call for The American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, CT. I received my equity card for that company but was drafted into the US Army out of rehearsal. After the army, I became a member of the Lincoln Center Repertory Company and appeared in four shows.
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Mike: How did you get the part of Larry Dallas on Three’s Company?
Mr. Kline:I auditioned for a one-time guest spot.
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Mike: Tell the readers about your first time on the set of Three’s Company?
Mr. Kline: It was April of 1977. ABC-TV was doing a tryout of  TC for 6 episodes. I was in the fourth one. Nobody knew who any of the regulars were at the time because the show obviously hadn’t be around that long. From the get go, things were loose and funny and friendly. I immediately felt at home and John and I kinda clicked.
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Mike: Was that the first time you had met John Ritter?
Mr. Kline:yes.
 
Mike: What did you think of the cast of Three’s Company?
Mr. Kline:Everybody was welcoming and friendly. On the night we shot the show, I remember Norman Fell coming up to me and unsolicited he said “they’re gonna have you back.” And they did.
 
Mike: Take me through the first season of Three’s Company. Did you all think it would go 8 seasons and have 2 spin offs?
Mr. Kline: It was an instant hit. It was in that block of shows that included Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley. I don’t think any of us consciously thought it would have THAT much longevity but we did think it would stay on top for a while.
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Mike: How was it working with John Ritter?
Mr. Kline:Simply the best. I learned much from watching him work, just as I learned a lot from observing Bea Arthur when I had a 3-show arc on Maude. His physicality and her timing were a Phd course in comedy.
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Mike: Tell the readers a story about John Ritter on the set of Three’s Company?
Mr. Kline:As you know, my character was ALWAYS  ringing the doorbell, and either one of the girls or Jack would answer. John would occasionally come up with zany bits after opening the door (during camera blocking). Like, he’d either have his pants down to his ankles, or he scream “LARRY!” in a Jerry Lewis voice. All determined to crack me up…which of course it did.
 
Mike: Do you remember the day and what you were doing when you had got the news John Ritter had passed away?
Mr. Kline: My wife awakened me in the morning–she had been on the computer–and told me the news. I was devastated. And then the phones started ringing off the hook with friends and/or media wanting quotes.
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Mike: How was it working with Joyce Dewitt?
Mr. Kline:Joyce was a doll. I knew she was a university trained actress and she was always exploring ways to make her “Janet” real and believable.
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Mike: How was it working with Suzanne Somers?
Mr. Kline: Suzanne was funny on and off screen.
 
Mike: When all the stuff happened with Suzanne Somers did the cast think Three’s Company was over?
Mr. Kline: Personally, I had some uncertainty where the show would be headed and who they would get to replace her. But the show’s overwhelming strength was John and so it proved to not be as catastrophic as some might have thought.
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Mike: How was it working with Don Knotts?
Mr. Kline: When I heard that Don had been hired to do the new landlord role, I was thrilled. A five time Emmy winner joins our show?? Always was a fan. Don and I spent a lot of time together, including a trip to Vegas in which neither of us got arrested. Fun times.
 
Mike: When you look back over the 8 years what do you remember most?
Mr. Kline: the “family’ that was part of making the show–which includes the crew , everyone associated with the show.
 
Mike: Why did Three’s Company even get cancelled?
Mr. Kline:John wanted to go out a winner, not floundering at the bottom of the ratings pile. Plus it was thought that a spin-off would inject new life into the franchise.
 
Mike: Now that Three’s Company is in syndication did you think it would be so popular 40 plus years later?
Mr. Kline: I still can’t believe it.
 
Mike: After all three shows were cancelled did the cast ever get back together one last time?
Mr. Kline: there were no reunions on or off camera.
 
Mike: Did you keep anything from the set of Three’s Company that you have today?
Mr. Kline: no
 
I could go on and on about Three’s Company as my wife Hope and I watch it every night before bed. I think our DVR has 45 episodes on it as we speak.
 
Mike: What did you do when Three’s Company went off the air?
Mr. Kline:I was immediately cast in a pilot “His and Hers” with Shelly Fabares, for CBS. It was not picked up.
 
Mike: What was your favorite game show to do? And why?
Mr. Kline: 25,000 Pyramid because I liked the speed and the word association qualities of the show.Annnd, I was always a fan of Dick Clark. I watched American Bandstand as a kid religiously
 
Mike: How can fans reach out to you to say hi or maybe buy a signed 8×10?
Mr. Kline: I have a website; www.richardkline.net and there are a variety of photos to be purchased.
 
Mike: Will you be doing any conventions in 2017?
Mr. Kline: There is one scheduled for April in Texas, in a suburb of Dallas.
 
Mike: What else does 2017 hold for you?
Mr. Kline: I am doing a play at UCPAC in New Jersey in January. Hopefully, I will recur again on Bluebloods and The Americans- shows I’ve appeared on twice
 
Mike: What would you like to say in closing? My favorite comment from fans of the show has always been “Thanks for the laughs.” Lord knows we need a few.
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Let me say first it has been a honor to be able to send you these questions today. You are true TV Legend/ICON and I will never forget what you and the rest of the gang from Three’s Company did for TV.
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