“Three’s Company” star Suzanne Somers died on Sunday morning after battling breast cancer for more than two decades.
The original fitness influencer, who made millions off of the ThighMaster by instructing at-home fitness enthusiasts to “just put it between your knees and squeeze,” passed away “peacefully at home” on October 15, a day before her birthday.
Her husband Alan and son Bruce were at the sitcom star’s side in the early morning, when she lost her 23-year-long battle with “an aggressive form of breast cancer.”
The family had planned a birthday party on Monday, but “instead they will celebrate her extraordinary life.”
Many people don't know what sacrifices Suzanne Somers made for equal pay.
By 1980, she had already won a People's Choice Award for "favorite female performer," and was nominated for a Golden Globe for her work on Three's Company.
But her male counterparts made more money – a… pic.twitter.com/iwzY4ZbqQc
— Jon Cooper (@joncoopertweets) October 15, 2023
They will hold a private funeral for Somers in the upcoming week and a memorial some time in the November.
Despite living breast cancer for 23 years, the actress has been battling the disease since she was in her 20s.
During her seven year tenure on “Three’s Company,” Somers had been diagnosed and treated for cancer three times.
“They call it severe hyperplasia in your uterus,” she said in an interview with CBS News in 2020. “I didn’t make a big deal about it.”
She also didn’t make a “big deal” about the malignant melanoma she was diagnosed with on her back while in her 30s.
Based on her track record for keeping her health issues under wraps, Somers likely wouldn’t have disclosed her breast cancer diagnosis, but was forced to defend the ThighMaster’s brand reputation due to a news report.
Suzanne Somers, ‘Three’s Company’ and ‘Step by Step’ Star, Dies at 76 https://t.co/qiTHyk6kVE via @variety So saddened to hear this. She was a friend & supportive when I was diagnosed with black mold. When we ran into each other, she would lean over & whisper, "We're survivors!"
— Morgan Fairchild (@morgfair) October 15, 2023
During an interview on Larry King Live the “Step-By-Step” star revealed that she had been diagnosed with the disease in April 2000.
When a tabloid ran a story that she got liposuction, despite her brand selling $300 million in thigh busting devices, and Somers revealed that did in fact, have the surgery to “even things out.”
“The thing is, my program works,” she said about the device. “But I did have to have something done to the other part of my body.”
Devastated to hear about the passing of Suzanne Somers. A true icon and overall amazing human being. You will be greatly missed, my friend. pic.twitter.com/Hls9eMQObt
— Adam Carolla (@adamcarolla) October 15, 2023
Fifteen years later, Somers announced that the 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 posted on Instagram in July.
“I have used the best alternative and conventional treatments to combat it.”
RIP Suzanne Somers. John Ritter finally gets some company up in heaven. pic.twitter.com/8cnJb5bSkI
— People in History (@pplinhistory) October 15, 2023
“This is not new territory for me,” her statement continued. “I know how to put on my battle gear and I’m a fighter.”
Somers lost the fight on Sunday, but historically wasn’t someone to be trifled with.
Her meteoric rise to success started with “Three’s Company,” but she wasn’t afraid to walk away from the show after seven years over a money dispute.
The ABC sitcom was paying male lead John Ritter $150,000 an episode, while she was only taking in $30,000. When her negotiations for equal pay failed, Somers departed the hit show.
She went on to be a Las Vegas entertainer and wrote her autobiography, Keeping Secrets, before heading back to Hollywood to star in 1987 sitcom “She’s the Sheriff.”
The new generation will never understand how iconic Suzanne Somers truly was. Keep your anime 'Step by Step' was peak television pic.twitter.com/ctJ6kpoA5U
— Deadpool Loki (@Dripmarvelshort) October 15, 2023
By the 1991 debut of ABC’s wildly popular TGIF sitcom “Step-By-Step” alongside Patrick Duffy, Somers shilling her thigh sculpting device on infomercials.
Her “passive income” side hustle sold 10 to 15 million ThighMasters by 2020, when Somers told People that she had bought out her business partners and owned the fitness equipment maker “outright.”
Celebrities took to social media on Sunday to share tributes to the legendary actress.
She was so gracious and she energized everyone around her.
Rest in peace Suzanne Somers 🙏🏻🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/JfvJCecXUU
— Jeanine Pirro (@JudgeJeanine) October 15, 2023
“The heaviness of this past week’s horrors just got worse with the loss of friend Suzanne Somers,” Fran Drescher, “The Nanny” star wrote on Instagram.
“Life is very hard, wherever we can bring joy, love, empathy and kindness as we move thru each day, do it! RIP dear Suzanne, you will long be remembered.”
Actress Morgan Fairchild was distraught by the news of Somers’ passing.
“So saddened to hear this. She was a friend & supportive when I was diagnosed with black mold,” she tweeted on Sunday.
“When we ran into each other, she would lean over & whisper, “We’re survivors!””
Along with a video tribute she posted on Instagram, actress Viola Davis wrote, “RIP Suzanne Somers. I grew up watching Three’s Company. You were a joy and forever young. Rest well.”
“Devastated to hear about the passing of Suzanne Somers,” added radio host Adam Carolla.
“A true icon and overall amazing human being. You will be greatly missed, my friend.”