Esteemed Actress Suzanne Somers, Cherished for Her Legendary Performance in the Beloved TV Show ‘Three’s Company,’ Departs at 76
Suzanne Somers, the radiant and talented actress celebrated for her portrayal in the classic television series ‘Three’s Company,’ who later forged a path as a thriving entrepreneur and a best-selling author on the New York Times list, has gracefully left us at the age of 76.
Somers had been battling breast cancer for more than 23 years, and she succumbed to it on Sunday morning, as announced in a statement provided by her family’s longtime publicist, R. Cory Shields.
At her side in Palm Springs, California, were her devoted husband, Alan Hamel, alongside her beloved son, Bruce, and a circle of close-knit family members.
The statement continued, remarking, “On October 16th, her 77th birthday, her family had initially assembled to celebrate.
However, in its place, they will commemorate her remarkable life and extend their heartfelt appreciation to the countless fans and supporters who held deep affection for her.”
Somers revealed on Instagram in July that her breast cancer had come back.
She expressed, “Like any cancer patient, when the fear returns, ‘it’s back,’ it gnaws at your gut. So, I geared up for the battle, donning my armor of determination,” she conveyed in her conversation with Entertainment Tonight during those trying moments.
“This is my field of ‘cancerpreneurs,’ and I’m very hard to kill.”
Her first diagnosis came in 2000 when she had previously battled skin cancer. To fight cancer, Somers faced some criticism for her reliance on alternative and holistic lifestyle, described in her books and on platforms like “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” which questioned the use of chemotherapy. The American Cancer Society had criticized her views.
Born in 1946 in San Bruno, California, Suzanne Somers entered this world as the child of a father who tended gardens and a mother who worked as a medical secretary. She later mentioned that her childhood was tumultuous.
Her father struggled with alcoholism and misconduct. She entered the institution of marriage at the tender age of 19, a decision that swiftly followed the joyful revelation of their impending son, Bruce.
Three years later, they divorced, and she began modeling to support herself, launching her career in “The Anniversary Game.” During this period, she met Alan Hamel, whom she married in 1977.
In the late 1960s, she embarked on her journey in the world of acting, making her initial mark with a credited role in Steve McQueen’s ‘Bullet.
However, it was her role as the attractive blonde driving a white Thunderbird in George Lucas’s 1973 film “American Graffiti” that brought her real fame. Her only line was, “I love you,” spoken to Richard Dreyfuss’s character.
At her audition, Lucas had asked if she could drive a car, and she later said that moment “changed her life forever.”
Somers later portrayed her life in a one-woman Broadway show titled “The Blonde in the Thunderbird,” which received mixed reviews.
During the 1970s, she made memorable appearances in various television series, leaving her mark on shows such as ‘The Rockford Files,‘ ‘Magnum Force,’ and ‘The Six Million Dollar Man. However, her most noteworthy role emerged in ‘Three’s Company,’ a hit series that aired on ABC from 1977 until 1984, although her involvement concluded in 1981.
In “Three’s Company,” she was the attractive roommate in the romantic comedy alongside John Ritter and Joyce DeWitt.
“It was really intellectual to make her. I wanted to make her likable and lovable… Stupid white people are irritating. I created an ethical code for her. I had imagined that this would be the childhood I wanted,” she told CBS News in 2020.
In 1980, following four seasons, she advocated for a substantial raise, pushing for her compensation to be raised from $30,000 per episode to a more equitable $150,000 per episode, in line with John Ritter’s earnings. Former television producer Hamel had encouraged this demand.
The show’s executives came back with a straightforward question, as Somers recounted in her 2020 interview with People, asking, “Who do you think you are?” They pointed out, “John Ritter is the leading star.”
Suzanne Somers leaves behind a legacy of a career that entertained and inspired many, both on and off the screen. Her legacy will live on, celebrated for her unwavering resilience and her invaluable contributions to the realms of entertainment and literature.
Quick Decision to Remove Her and Replace Her in the Show
She was immediately removed and soon replaced; over the remaining years of the show’s broadcast, her character was altered by two different roommates. This led to discord with her co-stars, and they didn’t speak for several years. Somers had made amends with Ritter before her passing, and then with DeWitt on her online talk show.
But Somers used the break as an opportunity to explore new avenues, including hosting a Las Vegas act, hosting a talk show, and becoming an entrepreneur.
In the 1990s, she took on the role of representing ThighMaster, becoming the face of this popular fitness product.
In that decade, she made a return to network television, most notably with “Step by Step,” which aired on ABC’s youth-oriented TGIF lineup. The network also aired a biopic about her life, in which she acted, called “Keeping Secrets.”
Somers was also a prolific author, writing books on aging, retirement, beauty, wellness, sex, and cancer as she grew older.
As the days passed before her final journey, she radiated positivity and took solace in the warm embrace of her family. She had even made arrangements to celebrate her birthday with her “nearest and dearest,” as shared in her interview with People magazine.
In the People story, Hamel mentioned that she had just returned from the Midwest, where she received six weeks of intensive physical therapy.