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Three's Company To ThighMaster: Suzanne Somers, Then And Now

Entertainment | May 25, 2018

Left: Actress Suzanne Somers poses for a portrait in 1979 in Los Angeles, California. Right: Somers in 1977. Sources: Photo by Harry Langdon/Getty Images; eBay

Her claim to fame was playing Chrissy from 1977-81 on Three's Company, but Suzanne Somers has remained a celebrity for decades even though her acting career has been inconsistent. Today, she's better known as the ThighMaster spokesperson and an advocate of alternative medicine. While Three's Company was on the air, Somers was a TV A-lister, appearing on Battle Of The Network Stars, game shows, variety shows, and late-night talk shows like The Mike Douglas Show and The Tonight Show. Later projects included the series She's The Sheriff and Step By Step, as well as Dancing With The Stars. Through it all, Suzanne Somers has retained her bubbly California charm and pinup-poster good looks.

'Three’s Company' Was Somers’ Breakout Role

Somers on 'Three's Company, with her castmates Joyce DeWitt and John Ritter. Source: IMDB

Suzanne Somers started acting in the late 1960s in a series of bit roles in television shows, including The Rockford Files and The Six Million Dollar Man, and in movies, such as American Graffiti in which she was the “blonde in the white Thunderbird”. She had an unaccredited appearance in the 1974 film Magnum Force as a topless pool girl. In 1977, she landed her breakout role as often-confused, stereotyped sexy secretary Chrissy Snow in the TV sitcom, Three’s Company, starring with John Ritter and Joyce DeWitt. Typecast as the ditzy blonde, Somers’ Cali-girl beauty gave the character of Chrissy an innocent, girl-next-door sexiness and propelled Somers to bona-fide sex symbol status.

Suzanne Somers’ Love/Hate Relationship with Playboy

Left: Somers in 'Nothing Personal' (1980). Right: On the cover of the December 1984 issue of Playboy. Source: IMDB; eBay

In 1970, Suzanne Somers posed for a set of nude photos, with photographer Stan Malinowski, for Playboy magazine, but the test shots of the then-struggling actress were not published. Nearly a decade later, while a guest on The Tonight Show, Somers claimed that she never posed nude. This prompted Playboy to run a cover feature of her previously-unpublished pics. Somers claimed that she only posed for those photos to pay for medical bills for her son, Bruce Jr, and that she did not want the boy, now 14, to see the provocative photographs of his mother. She sued Playboy and eventually settled for $50,000, which she donated to charity.

In the early 1980s, after she was terminated from Three’s Company, Playboy asked Somers to again pose nude for a photo spread in the magazine. At first, Somers was angered about the offer, but her celebrity status was plummeting and she needed to regain her sex appeal. With the blessing of her son, her mother, and her husband, talk show host Alan Hamel, agreed to a second photo shoot, this time with photographer Richard Fegley, which ran in the December 1984 issue of Playboy.

Showing Her Body Boosted Suzanne Somers’ Marketability

Left: Somers with Ritter on ;Three's Company.' Right: A pin-up poster of Suzanne Somers from the late '70s. Source: IMDB, eBay.

Somers capitalized on the burgeoning fitness craze and her own toned physique to launch a series of infomercials for health and fitness equipment. She gained a whole new following of fans with her ThighMaster commercials, which featured the spandex-wearing Somers squeezing the workout tool between her rock-hard thighs. When she wasn’t hawking workout videos or promoting exercise equipment, the ageless blonde worked as a Las Vegas performer and entertained the troops serving overseas.

From Ditzy Blonde to Successful Businesswoman and Advocate

The ThighMaster

Suzanne Somers may have played a dumb blonde on TV, but she’s one smart cookie! Her health and fitness empire included books, videos, exercise equipment, weight loss supplements, skincare products, cosmetics, clothing, jewelry, and even chemical-free home cleaning products.

Is She 'Dangerous'... Or A 'Pioneer?'

Left: A '70s pinup poster of Somers as Chrissy. Right: Somers with co-star Donald Sutherland in 'Nothing Personal' (1980). Source: IMDB

A breast cancer survivor, Somers defied her oncologist’s orders and replaced traditional chemotherapy with homeopathic treatments including Iscador, an extract made from fermented mistletoe. She supports a controversial and unproven hormone replacement therapy regime, which she has written about in her 2006 self-help book Ageless: The Naked Truth About Bioidentical Hormones. The American Cancer Association has called the actress’s views on cancer treatment “dangerous” and the organization has been openly critical of Somers’ medical views. Yet, they seem to be working well for her. Her unorthodox methods, which include daily injections, creams and approximately 60 daily supplements, got an unexpected thumbs-up from Oprah, who said of Somers, “she just might be a pioneer.”

Suzanne Somers is Ageless

We have to admit that Suzanne Somers is still stunning 40 years after she first captivated TV audiences with her low-cut t-shirts and long, tan legs. Her controversial medical opinions and fierce fitness routine seems to be working well for her. Her 41-year marriage to Alan Hamel is going strong -- a rarity by Hollywood standards. In fact, the still-sexy Somers credits the longevity of her marriage to their racy and intense sex life. Somers returned to television in Step by Step in the '90s and was a contestant on the 20th season of Dancing with the Stars in 2015. Somers, and her partner, professional dancer Tony Dovolani, finished in 9th place but her appearance on the popular show introduced her to a whole new fan base who were too young to remember the hot blonde’s run on TV’s Three’s Company.

Tags: Bikini Babes | Celebrities When They Were Young | Ladies | Suzanne Somers | The 1970s | Then And Now

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Karen Harris

Writer

Karen left the world of academic, quitting her job as a college professor to write full-time. She spends her days with her firefighter husband and four daughters on a hobby farm with an assortment of animals, including a goat named Atticus, a turkey named Gravy, and a chicken named Chickaletta.