Tragic Details About Suzanne Somers

Suzanne Somers was born Suzanne Mahoney in San Bruno, California, in 1946. While the blonde beauty is known for her roles on the long-running sitcoms "Three's Company" and "Step by Step"; her iconic fitness device, the ThighMaster; and her 17 books on health, wellness, and aging, Somers came from humble beginnings. She did not have much money growing up, and her father's substance abuse created a chaotic atmosphere in her family's household. Before her big break came, Somers couldn't even afford to cross the Golden Gate Bridge for auditions, handing over lipstick as collateral in lieu of paying the toll.

Of course, Somers eventually became a household name. And not only that, she has used her business acumen to stay relevant and continue working well into her 70s. But even as a popular actor and savvy entrepreneur, Somers encountered many difficult obstacles that others might not have had the strength to overcome. Read on to find out the tragic details of Somers' life and how she has fought back against adversity time and again.

Suzanne Somers' father abused her

The odds were stacked against Suzanne Somers from the very beginning. She has spoken at length about her father's alcoholism and how it affected her early life, recounting her story in a memoir titled "Keeping Secrets." "I remember being berated over and over again as a child ... 'You're nothing, you're stupid, you're hopeless, you're worthless, you're a piece of crap.' And I believed it," she told Closer Weekly.

Somers also witnessed her father's physical abuse of her mother and eventually stood up to him when she was 16. "[H]e punched my mother in the breast and knocked her down to the floor. I picked up my tennis racket and, with all my might, I brought it down on his head. ... I'm absolutely powerless, and he was a champion prizefighter, but I did give him a concussion." Somers recalled.

The actor said the experience, while terrifying, taught her something she would carry with her throughout her life and career. "We all have moments where your life can fall apart, or you can use it like judo — using forward energy to win, making the negative work for you," she told Good Morning America. And she would need that energy to endure the many obstacles to come.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

She struggled to make ends meet as a young single mom

Suzanne Somers' natural talent and all-American beauty did not go unnoticed when she was performing in high school plays. In fact, her performance in a production of "Guys and Dolls" led to a scholarship to college, and her future seemed bright. But during her first year at San Francisco College for Women, a Catholic school, Suzanne became pregnant and subsequently got married. "[A]t that time, if you got pregnant, you had to get married. I was thrown out of school and sent away from home in shame," Somers told Closer Weekly.

The man she married was her high school boyfriend Bruce Somers, and they had a son together when the actor was just 19. The marriage lasted from 1965 until 1968. Divorce was less common in those days, and Somers explained, "[I]t was shameful for my family, shameful for the small town, and I moved further away. It was just me and my little boy."

Somers' career hadn't yet gained any traction, and she did what she could to support herself and her son, Bruce Somers Jr. "I made my living by making chocolate desserts and selling them to restaurants in Sausalito, California, and by making children's dresses and selling them on consignment to little children's stores. That didn't go well ... But somewhere in there was that attitude: 'I'll show you.'" Although she didn't know it at the time, her big break was coming soon.

Suzanne Somers was fired from Three's Company after asking for fair pay

Suzanne Somers landed a small but memorable role in the star-studded film "American Graffiti," which led to an appearance on "The Tonight Show," which led to her getting cast as Chrissy Snow on the sitcom "Three's Company." Chrissy was a fan favorite. Somers took a potentially one-note "dumb blonde" character and made her lovable, funny, and childlike. Somers starred on the hit show for five years, and although her popularity was at an all-time high, she was getting paid significantly less than her male co-star, John Ritter.

When Somers tried to negotiate for fair pay, it backfired. "I renegotiated on 'Three's Company' because my contract was up. ... It never, never entered my mind that they were gonna fire me to make an example so that women wouldn't want to expect to be paid what the men were being paid," Somers told Good Morning America.

Not only was getting fired a shock for the actor, having to leave the show on bad terms added insult to injury. "Oh, it was so sad ... it was like being shunned from your family," Somers told Entertainment Tonight. "[The producers] painted me greedy, they painted me, 'She's trying to ruin the show,' and so the whole show, cast and crew, shunned me."

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001

Despite the setback of losing her job on such a popular show, Suzanne Somers continued working, starring on series such as "She's the Sheriff" and "Step by Step." Somers also made a small fortune selling the ThighMaster, a fitness device that took the world by storm in the '90s. Life was good for Somers, but in 2001 she received a devastating diagnosis. "I went for my yearly mammogram, which was normal, and then the doctor said, 'I see something suspicious here,'" Somers told Good Morning America. "And that's when I heard those words: 'You have cancer.'"

In March 2001, Somers revealed her breast cancer diagnosis during an interview with Larry King because she wanted to put to rest rumors that she'd had liposuction. Somers had not wanted to go public with the news yet, but felt pressure to set the record straight. "Maybe my higher power is pushing me to come out before I'm ready to come out about it," she told King in the interview. She also revealed that she had undergone radiation treatment but opted to forgo chemotherapy. "I decided to find some alternative things to do," Somers said.

Suzanne Somers planned to collaborate with John Ritter again before his death

After Suzanne Somers was fired from "Three's Company," she didn't keep in touch with anyone from the show. Not even John Ritter, with whom Somers had such great onscreen chemistry. "I learned so much watching him," Somers told Entertainment Tonight. "He was my real coach. I would just sit there and watch and see his brilliance." Somers suggested that Ritter was angry when she left the show because they were so good at playing off one another. "I think he irrationally got mad at me because he lost his sparring partner," she said.

Twenty years passed before the two actors spoke again, and when Ritter finally reached out, it took Somers by surprise. "He said, 'Hey babe ... I forgive you,'" according to Somers. He then went on to tell her about a part he had in mind for her on his sitcom "8 Simple Rules," in which Somers and Joyce DeWitt would appear as their "Three's Company" characters, Chrissy and Janet, in a dream sequence, creating a mini-reunion for the cast.

Somers didn't particularly like the concept. "I said, 'you know, the public has such a craving for you and I to be together again. ... Why don't we look for a proper project for the two of us?'" The two spoke about finding a show to do together, but one month later, Ritter died tragically and unexpectedly of an aortic dissection.

She needed surgery after a nasty fall

In 2020, Suzanne Somers and her husband, Alan Hamel, fell down the stairs together at their home, and Somers needed surgery. Somers had been recovering from a hip fracture at the time (something she chalked up to "just one of those crazy things that happen" while speaking about it on her podcast), so the timing of the incident was unfortunate.

Somers addressed the extent of her injuries in an October 2020 Instagram post, using her signature good-natured humor to let fans know she was okay. "I had an intense amount of pain after the fall that was not resolving — even after having tequila!" she wrote. "After several scans, it was determined I had 2 vertebrae out of place which was causing pressure on nerves and creating that tremendous pain." The actor went on to explain that she had to have surgery on her neck, but that she was on the mend and would soon be returning for her live social media cocktail parties.

In an interview with Closer Weekly in April 2023, Somers revealed that her injuries were so serious that she needed physical therapy to learn how to walk again. Although she didn't bounce back as quickly as she'd hoped, Somers was optimistic. "[I]t's been over a year of pain and recovery. I'm not all the way back yet, but I'm going to be okay," she said.

An Instagram video had fans of Suzanne Somers concerned

While Suzanne Somers has weathered her fair share of illness and injury, she is also something of a wellness guru who touts the benefits of organic food, supplements and vitamins, hormone therapies, and other alternatives to traditional Western medicine. Somers prides herself on her health and how youthful she feels, even beyond the age of 70. But a video Somers posted on Instagram in March 2023 had fans worried. In the video, the actor appeared frail, her voice was shaky, and she didn't seem like her usual vivacious self.

Fans showed their concern in the comments, saying things like "Something is missing in her tonight," and "everything OK with Suzanne?" One user simply wrote "This is so sad," while another posted prayer hand emojis. Ironically, the video was posted to educate fans about cellular health and to promote supplements Somers sells via her website, While people are often critical on social media, unfortunately, Somers' fans did have a reason to be worried about the actor.

Suzanne Somers had a recurrence of breast cancer in 2023

In July 2023, Suzanne Somers revealed that she had once again been battling breast cancer. At the age of 76, the actor was determined not to let the illness bring her down, telling Entertainment Tonight, "Like any cancer patient, when you get that dreaded, 'It's back,' you get a pit in your stomach. Then I put on my battle gear and go to war. This is familiar battleground for me, and I'm very tough." Somers is clearly very tough indeed, and used the opportunity to promote her personal brand of wellness. "My doctors said that if I didn't lead a chemical-free life, supported by bio-identical hormones, I would not likely be here today," she said.

Along with her non-traditional approach to wellness, Somers credited her husband Alan Hamel, with helping her deal with her recurring illness. "Alan has been by my side every step of the way. I can't even explain how much he has done for me. If it's even possible, we are even closer than ever," Somers captioned a sweet Instagram pic of herself with her man. While Somers' husband, whom she married in 1977, seems to be her biggest supporter, her legions of fans are pulling for her as well. Somers has been through so much and has always come out on the other side, stronger and full of optimism.