“My goal in life is to become the person my dog thinks I am.” Suzanne Somers
Starting out as a model, Susanne Somers enjoyed television stardom with her portrayal of Chrissy Snow on the hit sitcom “Three's Company,” a role she played from 1977 to 1981. She received a Golden Globe nomination for her acting in the series. Somers went on to gain success as a Las Vegas entertainer during the 1980s. She was also a spokesperson for ThighMaster. Following a failed attempt to return to series TV with “She's the Sheriff” (syndicated, 1987-1989), she experienced a revival with the popular sitcom “Step by Step” (1991-1998), where she starred as Carol Foster Lambert. Somers later became known as the author of best selling self help book “Ageless: The Naked Truth About Bioidentical Hormones” (2006). She has also published two autobiographies, several diet books and a book of poetry. Also a businesswoman, Somers has sold her Somersize products on The Home Shopping Network.
On January 23, 2003, Somers received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contribution to television. She is also the recipient of People's Choice Awards for Favorite Female Performer in a New TV Series (1992) and Favorite Female Performer in a New TV Program (1978).
Somers is an advocate of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. In 2001, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and has undergone a lumpectomy and radiation therapy in effort to remove the cancer. She, however, declined to have chemotherapy in favor of alternative treatment. Somers promotes alternative cancer treatments through her 2009 book “Knockout,” which has earned criticism from the American Cancer Society.
The Queen of the Jiggles
Childhood and Family:
Suzanne Somers was born Suzanne Marie Mahoney on October 16, 1946, in San Bruno, California, to Frank Mahoney, a laborer and gardener, and Marion Elizabeth, a medical secretary. Her father was an alcoholic who became hostile on occasion. In addition to living in fear of being hurt or even killed by her dad, young Suzanne had difficulty studying because of dyslexia. Fortunately, she found encouragement after landing a role in a high school production of “Guys and Dolls.” She stood out in the arts and actively participated in her school's drama program. After graduating from Capuchino High School, she attended the San Francisco College for Women on a music scholarship, but was kicked out after becoming pregnant. Suzanne married her child's father (Bruce Somers) on April 14, 1965, and gave birth to a son named Bruce Somers Jr., on November 8, 1965. However, the marriage ended in divorce in 1968 after her husband discovered she had an affair with a former drama teacher. She moved to San Francisco after the divorce and worked as a model to support herself and her child.
In the late 1960s, Suzanne got a job as a model on the television game show “Anniversary Game,” which was hosted by Alan Hamel (born in June 1931, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada), who was married at the time. She quickly embarked on an affair with Hamel and became pregnant with his child. Although she had to abort the pregnancy, which resulted in serious health complications, the couple eventually married on November 11, 1977. Hamel then became her business manager. Suzanne has two stepchildren.
Suzanne Somers is known by the nickname “The Queen of the Jiggles.”
Step by Step
Suzanne Somers began her career as a fashion model in San Francisco before branching out to acting in the late 1960s. The San Bruno native, who had performed in productions of “Guys and Dolls,” “Annie Get Your Gun,” “The Sound of Music” and “The Boyfriend” while in high school, made her film debut with a bit part in “Bullitt” in 1968, an action film directed by Peter Yates and starring Steve McQueen and Jacqueline Bisset. She was then hired as a double for star Carol White in the cult thriller “Daddy's Gone A-Hunting,” which was directed by Mark Robson the following year. While struggling to make it as a model, she was arrested by San Francisco police in 1970 for passing bad checks, but the charges were later dropped after she paid restitution. Also that year, she had an unaccredited part in Tom Gries' drama “Fools,” which starred Jason Robards, Katharine Ross and Scott Hylands.
In 1971, Somers was hired as panelist on the syndicated talk show “Mantrap,” which was hosted by her future husband Alan Hamel. It was her second partnership with Hamel after the game show “Anniversary Game,” where she became a prize model. Back to films, she portrayed a blonde in a Thunderbird on the critically acclaimed dramatic comedy “American Graffiti” (1973), which was co-written and directed by George Lucas and starred Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat, Charles Martin Smith, Cindy Williams, Candy Clark, Mackenzie Phillips, Bo Hopkins, Kathleen Quinlan and Harrison Ford. It was followed by a bit part in Ted Post's “Magnum Force” (1973), an installment to the 1971 film “Dirty Harry,” both starring Clint Eastwood.
Somers appeared in NBC's “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” in 1974, which marked her first of a series of appearances on the show. She also appeared in guest roles in “Lotsa Luck” (1974, as Gloria), “The Rockford Files” (1974, as Ginny Nelson), “One Day at a Time” (1976), “The Love Boat” (1977, as Lorraine Hoffman) and “The Six Million Dollar Man” (1977, as Jenny Fraser) and played different roles in the “Starsky and Hutch” episodes “Savage Sunday” (1975), “The Vampire” (1976) and “Murder Ward” (1977). She made her TV movie debut in the NBC thriller “Sky Heist” (1975, directed by Lee H. Katzin).
Somers' breakthrough arrived when she landed the role of Chrissy Snow, a ditzy blonde secretary from Fresno, in the new ABC situation comedy “Three's Company,” opposite John Ritter and Joyce DeWitt. A remake of the British sitcom “Man About the House” (ITV, 1973-1976), the successful series premiered on March 15, 1977, and ran until September 1984. Somers was nominated for a 1979 Golden Globe for Best TV Actress - Musical/Comedy for her performance. Despite the success, the actress was written out in 1981 after a salary dispute. She subsequently filed a suit against ABC claiming that her career had been impaired because of the negative publicity surrounding the contract topic. The case ended in a settlement.
In 1977, Somers starred as Gloria Henderson in the TV film “It Happened at Lakewood Manor” (ABC), alongside Robert Foxworth, Lynda Day George, Bernie Casey, and Myrna Loy, and was featured as a party girl in the fourth and last film in the Billy Jack series, “Billy Jack Goes to Washington,” which was directed, co-written by and starred Tom Laughlin. She next starred as Mattie in the CBS television film “Happily Ever After” (1978, with Bruce Boxleitner) and Bonnie Katt in the NBC TV film “Zuma Beach” (1978) before reprising her role of Chrissy Snow in a 1979 episode of the short lived series “The Ropers” called “The Party.” She returned to the big screen with costarring roles in “Yesterday's Hero” (1979) and “Nothing Personal” (1980, as Abigail Adams; opposite Donald Sutherland).
After leaving “Three's Company,” Somers headed to Las Vegas and became a successful live performer there thanks to work at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel and Caesar’s Place. She also appeared in Lake Tahoe and Laughlin, Nevada, and was named Las Vegas' “Female Entertainer of the Year” in 1986. In addition, Somers became a commercial spokesperson for ThighMaster and appeared in “Playboy” in 1980 and 1984.
Somers resumed her acting career in 1985 when she played Gina Germaine in the TV miniseries “Hollywood Wives,” opposite Candice Bergen, Joanna Cassidy and Angie Dickinson. She next starred in the TV series pilot “Goodbye Charlie” (1985) and costarred with Robert Carradine in “Disney's Totally Minnie” (1988). She did not return to a series TV until she portrayed the title role in the syndicated sitcom “She's the Sheriff.” Produced by Lorimar Television, the show ran from September 1987 to May 1989. She also wrote an episode of the series titled “Kissing Cousins” (1989).
Entering the 1990s, Somers starred as Paige in the TV film “Rich Men, Single Women” (1990, with Heather Locklear). The following year, she launched her jewelry line that was sold through the Home Shopping Network. It was also in 1991 that Somers rebounded to series TV with the popular sitcom “Step by Step,” which ran on ABC from September 1991 to August 1997 and then on CBS from September 1997 to June 1998. Costars of the series included Patrick Duffy, Brandon Call, Staci Keanan, Angela Watson, Christine Lakin and Christopher Castile. While working on the show, Somers also worked in several television films. She starred as Marcy Singer in the ABC thriller “Exclusive” (1992), Leigh Lindsay in the based on book “Seduced by Evil” (1994) and Sally McCormick in Lifetime's comedy “Devil's Food” (1996). She then supported Cynthia Gibb, Costas Mandylor and Annabelle Gurwitch in the Family Channel comedy “Love-Struck” (1997) and played Emma Poleski in the USA Network drama “No Laughing Matter” (1998). In 1994, she hosted the daytime talk show “The Suzanne Somers Show,” which she executive produced. Four years later, in 1998, she began her co-hosting gig on the CBS hidden camera show “Candid Camera,” with Peter Funt. She would remain with the show until 2000.
After “Step by Step” left the airwaves, Somers returned to the big screen by providing the voice of Malley the Dog in the family film “Rusty: A Dog's Tale” (1998), helmed by Shuki Levy and starring Hal Holbrook and Rue McClanahan. The next year, she starred in the TV film “The Darklings.” In 2001, she made a cameo appearance in the film “Say It Isn't So.” In 2005, Somers starred in the one woman show “The Blonde in the Thunderbird.” It marked her Broadway debut.
Somers has made public appearances in various TV shows, including “Howard Stern,” “The Daily Show,” “Late Night with Conan O'Brien,” “The Rosie O'Donnell Show,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “The Sharon Osbourne Show,” “The Tony Danza Show,” “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee,” “E! True Hollywood Story,” “Entertainment Tonight,” “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List,” “Larry King Live” and “Rachael Ray,” among others.
Also a published writer, Somers has written several books. In 1980, she released “Touch Me: The Poems of Suzanne Somers” and her autobiography, “Keeping Secrets,” in 1988, which detailed her life as the child of an alcoholic parent. In 1992, she released “Wednesday's Children: Adult Survivors of Abuse Speak Out.” She then released a fitness book titled “Suzanne Somers' Eat Great, Lose Weight” in 1996, which was followed by “Suzanne Somers' Get Skinny on Fabulous Food” in 1999, another fitness book that spent 18 weeks on the New York Times How-To Best Seller list. In between, she released the book “After the Fall: How I Picked Myself Up, Dusted Myself Off and Started All Over Again” (1998). Other books she has been written include “The Sexy Years: Discover the Natural Hormone Connection: The Secret to Fabulous Sex, Great Health and Vitality, for Women and Men” (2004), “Ageless: The Naked Truth About Bioidentical Hormones” (2006), “Breakthrough: 8 Steps to Wellness: Life-altering Secrets From Today's Cutting Edge Doctors” (2008) and “Knockout: Interviews with Doctors Who are Curing Cancer and How to Prevent Getting It in the First Place” (2009).
People's Choice: Favorite Female Performer in a New TV Series, 1992
People's Choice: Favorite Female Performer in a New TV Program, 1978