San Bruno, California – Suzanne Somers, a cherished figure in American television, passed away peacefully at her home on October 15, according to her longtime publicist. The actress, best known for her roles in popular sitcoms “Three’s Company” and “Step by Step,” was 76.
Somers, born Suzanne Marie Mahoney on October 16, 1946, began her acting career in the late 1960s. She first appeared in minor roles in films such as the 1968 action classic “Bullitt” starring Steve McQueen and Clint Eastwood’s “Magnum Force” in 1973. She also had a brief but memorable role in George Lucas’s “American Graffiti” in 1973, where she played the “Blonde in T-Bird.”
The actress gained significant recognition in the 1970s through her appearances on hit TV shows like “The Rockford Files,” “One Day at a Time,” “The Six Million Dollar Man,” “The Love Boat,” and “Starsky & Hutch.” However, her breakthrough came when she was cast as the lovable Chrissy Snow on the ABC sitcom “Three’s Company,” a role that made her a household name.
“Three’s Company,” which ran for eight seasons from 1977 to 1984, was a massive hit and spawned several spinoff series. The sitcom, based on the British show “Man About the House,” revolved around the comedic exploits of three single roommates. Somers’ character, Chrissy, lived platonically with Jack Tripper, played by John Ritter, and Janet Wood, portrayed by Joyce DeWitt.
Somers’ career faced a setback when she was let go from “Three’s Company” in 1981 after a dispute over pay. Despite the controversy, she continued to work in television, starring in the short-lived sitcom “She’s the Sheriff” from 1987 to 1989. She also headlined a series of one-woman shows on the Las Vegas strip in the 1980s and reprised these performances in 2015.
In the 1990s, Somers became the commercial spokesperson for the Thighmaster, a personal exercise equipment. Despite being widely mocked, the product was a success, selling millions of units and earning Somers induction into the Direct Marketing Response Alliance Hall of Fame. She later launched her own successful lines of personal products, including skin care, makeup, hair care, and health products.
A decade after her departure from “Three’s Company,” Somers returned to television with a significant role in ABC’s “Step by Step.” The sitcom, which ran for seven seasons, starred Somers and Patrick Duffy as two single parents who marry and blend their families.
Somers, who battled breast cancer multiple times, was first diagnosed with the disease in 2000. She underwent a lumpectomy and radiation therapy for treatment and also sought out alternative therapies. The actress continued to work sporadically in television after “Step by Step” ended, including brief forays into talk shows. She also gave Broadway a shot in 2005 with her one-woman show “The Blonde in the Thunderbird.”
Somers was married twice and is survived by her husband, Alan Hamel, and her son, Bruce. A private family burial will take place this week, and a memorial will be held next month.