Actress Suzanne Somers, the actress, spokeswoman and author best known for the sitcom “Three’s Company,” died Sunday after a long battle with breast cancer.
Somers, who rocketed to fame as ditzy blonde Chrissy Snow on the ABC hit in the late 1970s, later enjoyed a successful career as a businesswoman. She died 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.”
Though the family had been gathered for her birthday, Hay said, “instead, they will celebrate her extraordinary life.” The family also wanted “to thank her millions of fans and followers who loved her dearly.”
The New York Times and 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 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 their landlord.
Slammed by critics as low-brow “jiggle show” whose plots often relied on tired tropes of 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.
She gained renewed fame in the 1990s as the spokeswoman for the “Thighmaster,” a popular exercise device, in a series of commercials.
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.”
– City News Service