Suzanne Somers is doing just fine decades after her stint of fame on the beloved sitcom “Three’s Company” abruptly ended.
The actress who brought the lovely and ditzy Chrissy Snow into the living rooms of millions of American households was fired from the show in 1980 after asking for a raise from $30,000 an episode to $150,000, which would have brought her up to the rate of John Ritter, the show’s principal star.
Rather than make a counter-offer, ABC simply gave her the boot.
“At that time, the men were making 10 to 15 times more than I was,” the 75-year-old told Fox News Digital. “And I was on the No. 1 show. It just seemed wrong because I was clearly being underpaid. And it’s not like I stopped the show. My contract was up. We had a meeting with the lawyers [at ABC] … But, by then, they had already decided.”
“I was waiting at home — and remember, this was a time before cell phones, so it felt like an eternity,” Somers recalled. “It was a gray day. And the front door opened in a way that you knew bad news was coming. It was really slow. And I heard my husband going up the stairs really slowly. I met him at the landing.
“He looked at me, shook his head, and said, ‘You’re out. You were gone within the first five minutes when I walked into the meeting.’ … Now, I was out of work and labeled ‘trouble’ only because I wanted to be paid fairly for doing my job.”
The star who had already appeared on the cover of 55 magazines and was heralded as a favorite of legendary late-night TV icon Johnny Carson was suddenly toxic to the press and sank into a deep depression as a result.
“I just remember sitting in my living room — same gray, cold day, months later — just thinking, ‘Why?’” she recalled. “And I heard a voice. I think we all hear voices. We just don’t often tune in. But that voice said, ‘Why are you focused on what you don’t have? Why don’t you focus on what you do have? You have enormous visibility. Most of the people on the planet know your name at this point.’”
Somers’ husband and manager, Canadian producer and TV host Alan Hamel tried and succeeded in landing her a residency in Las Vegas which consistently sold out for 15 years and garnered her the title of Female Entertainer of the Year in 1987.
The deal was for more money than she had asked for from ABC, Somers told the outlet.
With a renewed sense of possibility, Somers decided to use her name to brand and sell products and in 1990, she launched the first advertisement for “Thighmaster.”
Ever heard of it?
“I bought a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes that made my legs look so good,” she chuckled. “It was mainly a vanity thing. But when I bought the shoes, I was in my dressing room and thought, ‘Oh my God, what is Al going to think? I’m so stupid for spending so much money on a pair of shoes.’ Well, it just happened that I was in my bra and underpants. So I walked out and asked, ‘Like my shoes?’ And he said, in his great, deep radio voice, ‘Great legs.’ That was the commercial. And I was able to write off the shoes because I wore them in the commercial.”
After sales of over 10 million, Somers says she stopped keeping track and in 1992, her brands became one of the Home Shopping Network’s top sellers.
“I have over a thousand products,” she boasted. “Would I have wanted to do it this way? No, but I allowed it to take me and us where it wanted to go. My biggest complaint today is that I work too much. I’m always keeping busy. The pandemic worked for me because we started doing Facebook Live shows and Instagram shows three times a week. We start the show with some tequila on ice, and it’s like having a drink together while my husband is running the camera. There’s just so much freedom on the internet than there is on mainstream television. I’m just loving where I’ve been and where I’m heading.”
Even with her off-screen success, Somers hasn’t ruled out a return to television.
“I never felt that I was finished with Chrissy Snow,” said Somers. “She was cut off right where she was really being developed. There’s a whole new generation discovering her. And she’s special to me. I remember when I got the role, I would have taken the part of a monkey because I was not working.
“I didn’t think I brought anything to the table because I hadn’t studied acting. I was that girl from ‘The Tonight Show.’ But I learned so much from watching John Ritter. He [was] a master, the greatest in physical comedy. I would just watch him over and over. I observed his rhythm. I realized one day that comedy is like a musical. It’s a set-up beat. And as soon as I heard that rhythm, I couldn’t be stopped.”
“Even before that, I remember Johnny Carson walked up to me [during an audition] and went, ‘Hey little lady … I hope you get the part.’ I just had this book of poetry with my picture in the front. And I guess they loved my poetry because I made my TV debut on ‘The Tonight Show.’ But for my national television debut, I bought a $75 dress that I couldn’t afford. I wrote a check, and I knew it was going to bounce. But, eventually, I paid it off. I was on ‘American Graffiti,’ and I hadn’t even seen the movie because I couldn’t afford to go. I was just a single, young mother, so unpolished … But, as I told everyone, I’m a really fast learner.”
To date, Somers has written 27 books and her name is ubiquitous on products from protein formulas to jewelry.
“How did I fare after ‘Three’s Company?’ Well, I’m still standing, and I’m standing strong,” said Somers.
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