Suzanne Somers, sitcom star and fitness promoter, has died at age 76 after battling breast cancer for more than 20 years.
A post to her Instagram reads, “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. 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.”
Somers shot to fame in the sitcom “Three’s Company”, which premiered in 1977. It followed the antics of three roommates in Santa Monica who were trying to hide that the lone male roommate – Jack, played by John Ritter – was actually heterosexual. Somers played Chrissy Snow, the lovable “dumb blonde” with a moral code, as she described her.
However, she ended up being fired from the show before its tenure ended, after she unsuccessfully fought to earn as much as her male counterpart Ritter.
Later, she was known for her promotion of the exercise equipment the ThighMaster, which she was concerned may end up on her tombstone, according to her husband, Alan Hamel.
Younger audiences were introduced to her through her next hit sitcom, “Step by Step”. A 1990s mainstay in ABC’s TGIF lineup, it starred Somers and Patrick Duffy as a couple whose marriage created a blended family. Each parent brought three children into the marriage, much like “The Brady Bunch”.
She was also a longterm member of the breast cancer community, after an initial diagnosis in 2000. Cancer was nothing new for her, as she also battled different forms of the disease three times during her tenure on “Three’s Company”. Over the years, she’d had recurrences of her breast cancer, with the most recent happening this year. She shared the news in an Instagram post.
At the time, she wrote, “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. 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.”
She added, “My incredible family has been so supportive, and has helped so much by keeping the business running so you can still have access to all the wonderful products. Thank you for the continued love and support. It’s only about who you love and who loves you — and I love you!”
Her son Bruce wrote a heartfelt message to his mother the day after her death, to mark what would have been her 77th birthday. He said that she was so many things to the world, but to him, she was just Mom.
He wrote of all she taught him, adding, “Mom, you left me with all the tools, though I’ll still need your guiding spirit around me. I feel you and know you are there. But I will miss your sweet hand and caring eyes that would look deep into my soul for verification that everything was okay. Thank you for being the best mother any son could ever dream of. I miss you already. Call me greedy, but 57 years wasn’t enough. And yet, I received more love than I could ever imagine. I love you so dearly.”