Saturday, April 13, 2024

RIP Suzanne Somers, 76, One of Hollywood’s Nicest People, Trailblazer for Equal Pay for Women


So sorry to hear that Suzanne Somers has died. She was 76 and battling cancer since her 40s.

Suzanne leaves her longtime husband, Alan Hamel, and her step children and grandchildren, plus her son, Bruce Somers Jr. and three granddaughters.

Suzanne was one of Hollywood’s nicest people. But she was also smart. She burst onto the scene in the 70s in the hit sitcom, “Three’s Company.” She quickly broke out as the key star and wanted to be paid as much as John Ritter, the male lead. When ABC refused, she left. It was very rare and unprecedented. She sued, the case went to arbitration, and she got just $30,000. She was right in every way. Unfortunately, not much has changed for actresses since then.

Somers starred in other series including a hit family show called “Step by Step” with Patrick Duffy of “Dallas,” also on ABC. But she and Hamel had a good business sense. She jumped on the working out craze with the much mocked but best selling “Thighmaster.” She also wrote many diet books in which she advocated cutting all sugar. She was ahead of her time.

I used to see Suzanne and Alan at least once a year at Clive Davis’s annual Grammy party. Every once in a while they came to New York to various events and she — both of them — were not like the usual Hollywood rabble. They loved to be “normal.” And we loved them for it.

Go back and look at “Three’s Company.” It was screwball comedy, and Suzanne was the engine behind. You have to pretty smart to make being dumb look so good.

PS Before “Three’s Company,” Suzanne got her big break in George Lucas’s “American Graffiti,” playing the elusive girl in the car who Richard Dreyfus becomes obsessed with.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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