Suzanne Somers, the star of sitcoms “Three’s Company” and “Step by Step” and author of several self-help, health and wellness books, died Sunday morning at the age of 76.
“Suzanne Somers passed away peacefully at home in the early morning hours of Oct. 15. She survived an aggressive form of breast cancer for over 23 years,” her publicist R. Couri Hay wrote in a statement to People.
“Suzanne was surrounded by her loving husband Alan, her son Bruce, and her immediate family,” the statement continued. “Her family was gathered to celebrate her 77th birthday on Oct. 16. Instead, they will celebrate her extraordinary life, and want to thank her millions of fans and followers who loved her dearly.”
A cause of death was not given.
After several small roles on TV shows like “The Rockford Files” and “The Six Million Dollar Man,” Somers landed the role of Chrissy Snow on ABC’s sitcom “Three’s Company” in 1977 opposite John Ritter and Joyce DeWitt. She rose to fame thanks to the role, but exited the series after five seasons over contract disputes.
In 1990, Somers starred in ABC’s “Step by Step” opposite Patrick Duffy, this time as a matriarch. The series ran for seven seasons.
Somers also helped spearhead a fitness craze when she released the ThighMaster in the 1990s. The easy-to-use device turned a mighty profit that Dax Holt calculated to be at least $300 million when Somers appeared on the “Hollywood Raw” podcast in March 2022.
Her career as a writer was a “privilege” for Somers. She told publisher Penguin House that authoring over 25 books was “an opportunity to express my point of view or share a particular interest I have at the time. It’s also been an incredible source of self-education – I have used my celebrity status to pick the brains of the best and the brightest.”
Somers was born in San Bruno, California, on Oct. 16, 1946. She described a difficult childhood in her memoir “Keeping Secrets,” and revealed that her father was an abusive alcoholic. She married her first husband, Bruce Somers, at the age of 19 and gave birth to the pair’s son in 1965.
Her career in the entertainment industry began in earnest when Somers made her film debut in 1968’s “Bullitt.” She moved to Hollywood and continued to pick up roles until she was cast in “Three’s Company.” After a few successful seasons, Somers asked to increase her salary to $150,000 per episode and for 10% of the show’s royalties.
Her costars were angered by her demands and the show’s producer refused, and as a result, Somers’ screen time was reduced until she was written out of the show. She later told InStyle: “It wasn’t even about being a feminist, it was more like, I’m selling more tickets than any of them. And shouldn’t it be about how many tickets you sell and how many viewers you have? After I was fired, I couldn’t get a job.”
After spending a few years working as a singer in Las Vegas, Somers was cast in “Step by Step,” a role that she described as not “the greatest gig ever in terms of my work as an actress’ but one that fans enjoyed. Plus, Duffy was easy to work with.
“I loved having my other TV husband, Patrick Duffy,” she said. “We had great chemistry, we never fought, we had so much fun, and we still keep in touch.”
Somers is survived by her husband of over 40 years, Alan Hamel, and her son Bruce Somers Jr.
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