With news of Suzanne’s Somers passing just one day shy of her 77th birthday, we went back into our archives to rediscover some of the life lessons she shared with us over the years.
More than 40 years ago, Suzanne Somers was cast as Chrissy Snow on the hit ’70s sitcom Three’s Company. She thrilled and delighted audiences in that role from 1977 to 1981, when she was famously fired from the show. But that was only the beginning.
In the years to come, Somers made frequent appearances in movies, talk shows and on the 1990s sitcom, “Step by Step.” Meantime, she and her husband, Alan Hamel, were making the Thighmaster one of the most famous products in informercial history, one which would go on to bring in more than $100 million in sales.
Suzanne also wrote more than 25 books, many of them bestsellers, which tended to focus on issues related to the body and aging and helped her transition from from her role as an actress into a powerful voice for women’s health and wellness.
Yet a fall down the stairs at her home in late 2020 showed Suzanne just how fragile one’s health can be. She described the fall to First for Women 8 months later: “I was standing at the top of the bedroom stairs waiting for Alan. He came out, grabbed my hand, he tripped and I went down on top of him. I actually saw stars but I didn’t think it was all that bad. My shoulders and back hurt so much I’d keep asking Alan to rub them. Finally went to the doctor, took an x-ray and she called 911. They put me in surgery within 2 hours,” she told us. “I broke my neck and spine, fractured my hip and dislocated my jaw — my right hand still has nerve damage. It’s been quite the recovery, but it’s made me a better person.”
Here, our favorite gems of wisdom from the last three interviews we had with Suzanne:
1. Find the silver lining
Suzanne explained to us in 2021: “At the time of my firing from ‘Three’s Company,’ my contract was up and I had to negotiate. When I signed on, I was nobody so I just took whatever they gave me. But I was on the #1 show in the country for 6 years and had the highest ratings of any woman of that time. The men were making 15 times more than me including my great co-star. So Alan went in to renegotiate and said I wanted to get paid like the men. If that happened today, I would own ABC,” she said laughing. “I had to re-invent myself — I couldn’t get a job on television anywhere. So I said to Alan that I wanted to do a Vegas act and I did. That that led to writing books. And the books are clearly such a large part of why I’m supposed to be here.”
2. Savor small acts of love
Together for over 54 years, Suzanne told First for Women in February of 2023 that she fell more in love with her husband every day. “I asked him the other day, ‘Are we more in love than ever?’ and he said, ‘I’m so in love with you today that I’m going to burst!’ she smiled. “Who gets that?” One of their secrets: “Every morning, Alan makes me coffee and brings it to me in bed. He makes the best coffee – strong and organic from Trader Joe’s. He uses way more coffee to water than most people, and it’s a spectacular way to start the day after my meditation.” Suzanne said they also gave each other a lot of attention. “We compliment each other and we spoil one another. The emotional connection feeds the physical connection. I think it’s about honoring and respecting one another and giving your partner what they need. He starts off my day in romantic bliss and we keep it going.”
3. Enjoy stolen moments of pure fun
Suzanne told us in 2023 that another way she and Alan bonded was to skip the news in the evening and replace it with some good tunes. “We crank up the music and have a tequila!” she smiled. “We love listening to Sarah Vaughn, Diana Krall, Bobby Darin, Frank Sinatra and Ella. That’s our vibe. It’s the simplest things that have become so meaningful to me!”
4. Believe it to achieve it
In February of 2020, Suzanne shared with First for Women how she believes you need to visualize what you want clearly in order to get it: “You have to see it already finished, and then there is simply the process of doing the work to get ‘there.’ I saw that something big was going to happen to me when I was a little girl. My mother used to get these rosary beads in the mail from the Maryknoll missionaries that glowed in the dark. I would go sit in the back of my mother’s closet with the rosary beads to watch them glow,” Suzanne remembers. “Sitting there, I always had this vision about achieving world peace. Back in my childhood, it was all about communism and the and the nuns at my school used to say ‘you’ve got to fight communism.’ So in my little girl fantasy with the glow-in-the-dark rosary beads, I would walk up to the top of the ‘hill,’ and I would say to the communists, ‘Why do you want to fight?’ And they would say to me, ‘You know, you’re right.’ And I created world peace! Haha, that was my childhood fantasy! (or was it a reality I was creating???) All I know is that I was thinking big.”
5. Forgiveness is freedom
“The key to being happy is forgiveness — not just for others but for yourself — it’s a gift,” Suzanne says. “I’ve taken responsibility for the bad choices I’ve made, and it changed my life.” After 45 years, Suzanne also forgave her father, who struggled with alcoholism. “I confronted him, and he sent me a letter where he took responsibility for all the awfulness. I said, ‘It’s all okay, Dad.’ And that moment of forgiveness freed me. Once I stopped looking at others as the reason for my unhappiness and realized I have the power to find peace, everything changed for the better.”
6. Make time to chat with God
“I love the line from the book The Secret: ‘Worry is a prayer for what you don’t want,’” Suzanne shared. “I meditate every morning: it’s a great way to start the day. It’s my form of prayer. I just talk to God, casually like a friend, and I thank Him for all the blessings in my life,” she explained. “It’s so easy to focus on our obstacles but by practicing gratitude, I focus on what I have and how grateful I am.”
7. Relax and celebrate
“Holidays used to bring sadness to me, having to live with an alcoholic father,” Suzanne revealed. “But as an adult, I decided to make it all about being together — and food! As a family, we decorate and sit around the table, and I make everybody’s favorite dish, but with a twist. I do a sausage stuffing that’s always a crowd-pleaser, and instead of pies, I make salted caramel pot de crème.” When guests stopped in, Suzanne was always at the ready with appetizers like crab legs, crackers, and truffle honey. “They’re delicious, and after, you don’t need dinner! It’s just a happy way to celebrate.”
8. Give perfection the boot
For our 2023 Valentine’s Day issue we featured Suzanne on the cover and she shared with us, “I used to beat myself up and always felt I needed to be better, but if I were to tell my younger self something now, I’d say, ‘Stop trying to be perfect — enjoy each day, you lucky girl!’”
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