Suzanne Somers, the star of “Three’s Company” and “Step by Step” who used her sitcom fame as a launching pad for a lucrative career as a fitness speaker and wellness author, has died at age 76. The news was confirmed by People Magazine.
“Suzanne Somers passed away peacefully at home in the early hours of October 15th. She survived an aggressive form of breast cancer for over 23 years,” Somers’ publicist wrote in a statement on behalf of Somers’ family. “Suzanne was surrounded by her loving husband Alan, her son Bruce and her immediate family. Her family was gathered on October 16 to celebrate her 77th birthday. Instead, they will celebrate her extraordinary life and would like to thank her millions of fans and followers who loved her dearly.”
Born in 1946, Somers rose to mainstream fame when, after years of small acting roles, she was cast as Chrissy Snow in “Three’s Company” in 1977. The show became a cultural phenomenon due to its frank discussions of sex, with Somers playing a large part in its success. Her role was eventually reduced due to disagreements with producers over her compensation and she was dropped from the series entirely after the fifth season.
But her departure from the show didn’t slow Somers’ career. She starred in a number of infomercials for ThighMaster, which helped her become a prominent voice in the fitness community. She wrote several self-help books and became a sought-after source of nutritional advice, although some of her views on alternative medicine were criticized by the medical community.
In 1990, she returned to sitcoms with Step by Step, an ABC sitcom in which she starred opposite Patrick Duffy as two single parents who get married and start a blended family together. The show ran for seven seasons and was considered the basis for ABC’s Friday night programming block “TGIF.”
Somers is survived by her husband and their son.