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The Vibrant Life of Suzanne Somers in 16 Rare Photos

From 'Three's Company' to the ThighMaster, join us as we remember the beloved actress

Suzanne Somers was one of the most beloved pop culture icons of the ’70s and ’80s, thanks to her fabulously funny turn as Chrissy Snow on the sitcom Three’s Company. On Sunday, October 15, the actress, author and businesswoman sadly passed away at age 76 (just one day shy of her 77th birthday), following her 23-year battle with breast cancer. Somers was known for her vivaciousness, beauty and humor, and her legacy extends far beyond entertainment, as she was also something of an original “influencer” given the many books she wrote and her ubiquitous ’90s informercials for the ThighMaster workout device. In honor of Somers’ vibrantly singular spirit, we’re taking a look back at Suzanne Somers’ life in pictures.

Suzanne Somers’ early years

Born Suzanne Marie Mahoney in 1946 to a working-class family, Somers has described a traumatic childhood due to what she’s described as an abusive, alcoholic father. Following her high school graduation in 1964, she was eager to make a new life for herself.

Suzanne Somers' 1964 high school yearbook photo
Suzanne Somers’ 1964 high school yearbook photo© Roger Ressmeyer/CORBIS/VCG via Getty

In 1965, at 19, she married Bruce Somers, the father of her only child, also named Bruce. The couple divorced in 1968, though Somers kept the last name. She struggled mightily during this time, and was was even arrested for check fraud in 1970, but soon enough, Suzanne Somers’ life would be back on the road to success, and leave those dark days in the past.

Becoming an actress

Somers began her journey into the entertainment world in the late ’60s, working as a model on the game show The Anniversary Game. This job proved pivotal in her life, as it was where she met her future husband, Alan Hamel. They would marry in 1977, and remain together until her death.

In 1973, Somers got attention in the small but powerful role of a beautiful and mysterious woman driving a Thunderbird in George Lucas’ classic film American Graffiti. Her character didn’t have a name — she was credited as “Blonde in T-Bird” — but her charisma was such that she was featured on The Tonight Show.

Suzanne Somers in 'American Graffiti,' 1973
Suzanne Somers in American Graffiti (1973)@erinmurphybewitched/Instagram

Following this fortuitous film appearance, Somers began appearing on classic TV shows of the era like The Rockford Files, One Day at a Time, The Love Boat, Starsky and Hutch and The Six Million Dollar Man.

Suzanne Somers in Three’s Company

With a variety of single-episode TV appearances under her belt, Somers was ready to take on bigger and better roles, and in 1977, she was cast as the lovably ditsy Chrissy Snow on Three’s Company. The classic sitcom, in which Somers, Joyce DeWitt and John Ritter played a trio of roommates, quickly became a hit, thanks in large part to the charisma of its cast.

Joyce DeWitt, John Ritter and Suzanne Somers in promotional shot for 'Three's Company,' 1979
Joyce DeWitt, John Ritter and Suzanne Somers in a 1979 promotional shot for Three’s CompanyABC Television/Courtesy of Getty

The often silly and innuendo-filled humor of Three’s Company defined late-’70s TV, and Somers became a sex symbol. Somers was always much more than the archetypal “dumb blonde” she so perfectly embodied on the show, and she wasn’t afraid to advocate for herself. In 1980, she demanded a raise. The show’s network, ABC, responded by firing her.

Suzanne Somers in 1979
Suzanne Somers flashes her signature smile in 1979Harry Langdon/Getty

In a 2022 Woman’s World interview, Somers recalled, “I was at the top of my game and the show was number one. But all the men were being paid more than me so I was at the bottom of the totem pole.” Somers knew her worth, explaining, “I created Chrissy — a dumb blonde that people care about. It’s not easy to do!” (Click through for ‘Three’s Company’ Cast: Behind the Scenes Secrets and Follow the Stars Through Time.)

Suzanne Somers posing with hay in 1979
Suzanne Somers posing in 1979Harry Langdon/Getty

While being fired from Three’s Company was a setback, it didn’t end Somers’ career. In fact, Somers would thrive in the following decades, and her fight for higher pay and acknowledgement that there was more to her blonde, smiling surface than meets the eye still resonates over 40 years after the fact.

Suzanne Somers at her home in 1979
Suzanne Somers at home in 1979Joan Adlen/Getty

Suzanne Somers in the ’80s

After Somers was let go from Three’s Company, she appeared in TV movies and mini series. “I had to reinvent,” she told Woman’s World in a 2021 interview. This need for reinvention led her to live performance, as she started a Las Vegas act and performed for US soldiers overseas.

Promotional shot for 'The Suzanne Somers Special,' 1982
Suzanne Somers promoting The Suzanne Somers Special, a 1982 TV special filmed in front of an audience of soldiersBettmann/Getty

Somers also tried her hand at film acting, starring alongside Donald Sutherland in the 1980 comedy Nothing Personal. The movie was poorly received, and Somers would always be best-known as a TV star rather than a movie star.

Suzanne Somers and Donald Sutherland in 'Nothing Personal,' 1980
Suzanne Somers and Donald Sutherland in Nothing Personal (1980)American International Pictures/Getty

That same year, Somers published Touch Me, a book of poetry. An autobiography, Keeping Secrets, followed in 1987 (in 1991, this book would be adapted into a TV movie biopic in which Somers played herself). From 1987 to 1989, Somers would return to a starring TV role in She’s the Sheriff. The show wasn’t nearly as popular as Three’s Company, but soon enough she’d totally reinvigorate her career.

Suzanne Somers in 1980
Suzanne Somers sparkles in 1980Harry Langdon/Getty

A new hit and an unforgettable infomercial

By the ’90s, Suzanne Somers’ life had changed and she was officially a small-screen veteran. In 1991 she was cast in the family sitcom Step by Step. She played Carol Foster-Lambert, a widowed mother of three who marries a divorced father (played by Patrick Duffy, of Dallas fame) with three kids of his own, making for a quirky but lovable blended family.

The show ran until 1998, and Somers was on it longer than Three’s Company, proving that she could play more mature characters and winning over new fans in the process.

Suzanne Somers and Patrick Duffy in 1994
Patrick Duffy and Suzanne Somers in 1994Walter McBride/Corbis via Getty

Not only did Somers make a triumphant return to the sitcom world in the ’90s, she also established herself as a serious businesswoman. If you ever flipped channels during the decade, you surely remember her ubiquitous infomercials for the ThighMaster, a workout device intended to firm up one’s thighs.

(Read more about retro fitness workouts here!)

Suzanne Somers in 1990
Suzanne Somers rocks a pastel workout look in 1990Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty

The ThighMaster was a huge success, and made Somers millions. She further established herself as a fitness guru by writing a number of books on natural health, diet and aging, and selling branded supplements and natural beauty products.

Suzanne Somers signs a copy of her book 'Eat Great, Lose Weight,' 1997
Suzanne Somers at an event for her 1997 book Eat Great, Lose WeightMark Perlstein/Getty

Today many actresses have ventured into the wellness space and branded themselves as lifestyle experts, but Somers did this long before it was a common path to take. Her ThighMaster infomercials remain some of the best-remembered ads of the ’90s, and you can still buy the device today.

Suzanne Somers ThighMaster packaging
The ThighMaster was all over TV in the ’90s@mikesdeadformats/Instagram

Somers in the 2000s

Throughout the early ’00s, Somers continued her reign as a savvy saleswoman with frequent appearances on the Home Shopping Network. She put her name on a variety of products and made appearances on Dancing With the Stars in 2015 and a slew of talk shows (she even hosted her own talk show in 2012!).

Suzanne Somers in 2003
Suzanne Somers flexes her muscles in 2003Vince Bucci/Getty

Suzanne Somers’ long marriage

Through all the ups and downs of her long career, Somers’ decades-long marriage helped her stay grounded. It was her husband, Alan Hamel, who encouraged her to advocate for better pay for her Three’s Company role, and in 2000, when Somers was first diagnosed with breast cancer, Hamel helped keep her positive.

Suzanne Somers and husband Alan Hamel poses for a portrait in 1980
Suzanne Somers and Alan Hamel in 1980Harry Langdon/Getty

In a 2021 Woman’s World interview, Somers gushed over Hamel, saying, “I must tell him I love him at least 10, 20 times a day.” In 2022, she added, “When I fall asleep at night and look over at my husband who’s so beautiful… I think ‘I’m so lucky.’ … After 54 years together he still says to me, ‘I’m so in love with you.'” Somers and Hamel were blessed with many years of happiness.

Alan Hamel and Suzanne Somers in 2022
Alan Hamel and Suzanne Somers in 2022Jamie McCarthy/Getty

Her vibrant light shines on

While Suzanne Somers may no longer be with us, her infectious positive energy will remain. In 2021, she told Woman’s World, “I wanted to be a weather girl and that was as high as my expectations ever went. I never dreamed that I’d have the life I have. I never dreamed I’d have the success I’ve had. But as it came, I put my arms around it and embraced it and had gratitude.” In her memory, we’ll be channeling her gracious and ever-smiling spirit and Suzanne Somers’ fervor for life.

Click through to see moving and heartfelt celebrity tributes to Suzanne Somers.


Read more about Suzanne Somers here:

7 Beautiful Principles That Suzanne Somers Swore By as Her Guiding Light

The 8 Gems of Wisdom Kept Suzanne Somers on a Carousel of Joy Throughout Her Life

Hollywood Pays Tribute to Suzanne Somers: “She Was a Pure Light That Will Never Be Extinguished”

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