When word leaked out about Suzanne Somers’s passing, the entertainment industry was in deep sorrow. Beneath her on-screen attractiveness, the adored Three’s Company performer had a difficult and sad childhood. She had a long and prosperous career.
Born Suzanne Marie Mahoney in San Bruno, California, on October 16, 1946, Suzanne Somers hailed from a humble beginning. Her father, Francis, aspired to be an athlete but battled alcoholism, while her mother, Marion, was employed as a medical secretary. Suzanne’s early years would be marred by this conflict.
Suzanne disclosed as a child that she had verbal abuse from her father, who called her “worthless” and “stupid.” It was not easy to grow up with an alcoholic parent. Suzanne did, however, eventually reach a turning point thanks to her tenacity and resolve.
Suzanne felt she had had enough after suffering abuse for years. She saw it as a turning point in life, one that might either lead to good or bad outcomes. Using the bad experiences to strengthen herself from the inside out, she went with the latter option. After all, she had forgiven her father and he had expressed regret for the suffering he had caused. To Suzanne, having an alcoholic father had been the “greatest training ever” in a bizarre sense, because it had taught her how to stand up for herself.
After some explicit love letters she had written were found by the nuns, Suzanne, a Catholic high school student, was expelled. She overcame this obstacle and graduated from San Bruno’s Capuchino High School. Suzanne was obviously going to make a great career out of the entertainment business. With a natural flair for acting, she had even drawn the interest of famous gossip columnist Walter Winchell while she was in a high school production of “Guys and Dolls.”
When Suzanne enrolled in Lone Mountain College, which is now the University of San Francisco, her life took a dramatic change. When she found out she was pregnant in 1965, she left school. Bruce, the father of the child, and she were married. Their son, Bruce Jr., was born. Their child’s involvement in an almost fatal vehicle accident, however, almost brought an end to their happiness. Suzanne’s difficult background with her father came to light during their therapy sessions as a result of this horrific event, which affected both mother and son. Her deep-rooted poor self-esteem—a result of her difficult upbringing—was brought to her attention by the counsellor.
Suzanne Somers was adamant about following her dreams in spite of these obstacles. Her career turned around when she was cast in a small part in George Lucas’s “American Graffiti.” Lucas was drawn to her one-line performance, which consisted of her merely saying, “I love you,” and it laid the groundwork for her future success.
She performed poetry readings in front of a national audience on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,” which helped her career take off. She became known as the “Mysterious Blonde in the Thunderbird” due to her remarkable presence. Once she gained popularity, she was offered a part in the popular television series “Three’s Company,” playing the endearing but occasionally naive Chrissy Snow.
With Don Knotts, Joyce DeWitt, and John Ritter as co-stars, Suzanne Somers’ tenure on “Three’s Company” was particularly successful. Her stay on the show lasted for 100 episodes, but her quest for equal compensation caused her to leave abruptly in 1981.
Suzanne Somers sought parity with her male co-star, John Ritter, and demanded a 500% rise during a period when discussions about equal pay for men and women were almost nonexistent. A flurry of criticism resulted from the producers’ decision to terminate her rather than grant her request. Speaking to The New York Times, Suzanne expressed her dissatisfaction, claiming that she never got the respect she deserved despite playing one of the greatest stupid blondes on television. Her spouse, Alan Hamel, who acted as her attorney during the talks, thought that her termination was an attempt to dissuade other women from pursuing comparable requests.
As Suzanne Somers thought back on this time in her life, she acknowledged that following her termination, she had felt inadequate and guilty. She wondered who she thought she was and wondered why she had sought for equal pay, regretting that she should never have made the request. She went through a year of poor self-esteem and spent a year alone because she didn’t think she was worth it.
Following the argument, she struggled to find new opportunities, which hurt her career. She was viewed as a nuisance and had issues getting interviews even though she was on the top show.
Tensions increased on the “Three’s Company” set. She was forbidden from communicating with any of the cast members, including co-star Joyce DeWitt, when their relationship drastically worsened. Her roles were restricted to odd phone calls recorded on an other set, and a police guard escorted her to and from the location. The play went on without Suzanne, and Cindy Snow (Jenilee Harrison) and then nurse Terri Alden (Priscilla Barnes) eventually took over as Chrissy.
An atmosphere of hatred and animosity was fostered by Suzanne Somers and Joyce DeWitt’s non-communication for more than thirty years. But in February 2012, they made up on Somers’ talk programme “Breaking Through.” They gave each other hugs and talked about their different outlooks on life. In addition to expressing gratitude for the chance “Three’s Company” had given her, DeWitt also showed respect for Somers’ achievements. She recognised that the concert had given its audience a priceless gift of joy and laughter.
Suzanne Somers persisted in her prosperity, advancing women’s rights and forging a prosperous business and writing career. She became a well-known entrepreneur, wrote books, and pushed fitness gear and apparel for women. She was tragically lost to breast cancer at the age of 76, ending her life. During her dying moments, her son Bruce, her beloved husband Alan, and her immediate family were by her side. Instead of celebrating her 77th birthday on October 16, they came to honour her wonderful life.
For her fans and the entertainment business, Suzanne’s passing was a great loss. Her publicist, R. Couri Hay, said that she had fought an aggressive form of breast cancer for more than 23 years, demonstrating her incredible fortitude and tenacity. Until the very end, Suzanne continued to be very involved in both her family and her career.
Tributes began to arrive from all over the world as word of Suzanne Somers’s dying spread. Condolences were sent by friends, coworkers, and even opponents from the past. Suzanne’s longtime friend and co-star Joyce DeWitt offered her condolences to her family, recognising the close relationship between them and wishing that Suzanne was met by angels beyond the grave. She also discussed Suzanne’s tremendous influence on the world as a result of her tireless activism and effort.
Suzanne Somers was to be buried in private, family style, but in November there would be a memorial service honouring her life. The entertainment business lost a popular personality, a strong advocate for women’s rights, and a gifted actress. The admirers and those she had influenced during her remarkable life would always carry Suzanne Somers’ legacy with them. May Suzanne Somers rest in peace.