Suzanne Somers, the star of “Three’s Company” and “Step by Step” who used her sitcom fame as a launchpad for a lucrative career as a fitness spokesperson and wellness author, has died at the age of 76. The news was confirmed by People magazine.
“Suzanne Somers passed away peacefully at home in the early morning 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 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.”
Born in 1946, Somers rose to mainstream fame when she was cast as Chrissy Snow on “Three’s Company” in 1977 after years of small acting parts. The show became a cultural phenomenon for its frank discussions of sex, with Somers playing a large part in its success. Her role was eventually reduced over disagreements with producers over her compensation, and she was written out of the show entirely after Season 5.
But her departure from the show did not slow Somers’ career. She starred in a series of infomercials for the ThighMaster, which helped turn her into a prominent voice in the fitness community. She went on to write several self-help books and become a sought-after source of dietary advice, even as some of her views on alternative medicine were criticized by the medical community.
She returned to sitcoms in 1990 with “Step by Step,” an ABC sitcom that paired her with Patrick Duffy as two single parents who marry and raise a blended family together. The show ran for seven seasons and was viewed as a foundational piece for ABC’s Friday night “TGIF” programming block.
Somers is survived by her husband and their son.