PALM SPRINGS – Actress Suzanne Somers, who rocketed to fame as ditzy blonde Chrissy Snow on ABC’s “Three’s Company” in the late 1970s and later enjoyed a successful career as a businesswoman and author, died in Palm Springs today after a long battle with breast cancer, one day before her 77th birthday.
“Suzanne Somers passed away peacefully at home in the early morning hours of Oct. 15th,” her publicist R. Couri Hay said in a statement released to the media. “She survived an aggressive form of breast cancer for over 23 years. Suzanne was surrounded by her loving husband Alan, her son Bruce, and her immediate family. Her family was gathered to celebrate her 77th birthday on October 16th. Instead, they will celebrate her extraordinary life, and want to thank her millions of fans and followers who loved her dearly.”
The celebrity news site Page Six reported that Somers died in Palm Springs.
After many small roles in films and TV shows, including a non-speaking part as the iconic woman in the Thunderbird in 1973’s “American Graffiti,” Somers hit it big when “Three’s Company” premiered in 1977.
Alongside John Ritter and Joyce DeWitt, she played one of two single women sharing an apartment with Ritter’s character, who pretends to be gay to avoid the disapproval of the trio’s landlord. Slammed by critics as a low-brow “jiggle show” whose plots often relied on tired tropes of sexual innuendo and mistaken identity, the series nevertheless was enormously popular.
Somers left the show at the height of its popularity after a contract dispute in its fifth season.
The late 1980s brought another, albeit less successful leading sitcom role in “She’s The Sheriff,” which ran for two seasons, and the 1990s saw Somers star with Patrick Duffy in the sitcom “Step by Step,” which ran for seven seasons.
She gained renewed notoriety as the spokeswoman for the Thighmaster in a series of commercials for the popular piece of exercise equipment in the 1990s.
Over the last two-plus decades of her life, Somers wrote several books on aging, diet and health-related issues.
She married Canadian producer and television host Alan Hamel in 1977, her second marriage. Hamel is 87.
Somers was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000. In July of this year, she posted on Instagram that her cancer had returned.
“As you know, I had breast cancer two decades ago, and every now and then it pops up again, and I continue to bat it down,” she wrote. “I have used the best alternative and conventional treatments to combat it. This is not new territory for me. I know how to put on my battle gear and I’m a fighter.”
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