We’re not sure if the word “Bimbo” was coined before Suzanne Somers took on the role of Chrissy on Three’s Company in 1977, but it sure became well-used to describe her character. But, sadly, almost no one understood that the woman behind the role was anything but a dumb blonde.
Suzanne Somers, who passed away from cancer one day shy of her 77th birthday, actually had a good head for business–no matter the color of the hair on top of it. She was a business woman, writer, and health and wellness advocate. But we all should celebrate about her life is that she had the gumption in 1980 to ask ABC to pay her the same salary as her co-star John Ritter. This was not a dumb blonde move; this was a woman who knew her value and demanded respect.
This was not a dumb blonde move; this was a woman who knew her value and demanded respect.
Unfortunately, ABC decided to fire her rather than boost her pay from $30,000 to $150,000 per episode. We assume they thought they were putting her in her place. Now, of course, it’s almost unbelievable that the network brass thought the man on the show was worth five times more than his co-stars. Shame on those suits.
“I’ve been playing what I think is one of the best dumb blondes that’s ever been done, but I never got any credit,” she told The New York Times the year she was fired. “I did it so well that everyone thought I really was a dumb blonde.”
A (Blonde) Head for Business
Somers’ career didn’t end with her firing. She went on to star in other TV series. Nor did her earning power diminish. Through the diet and health business she started with her husband Alan Hamel, she reportedly earned hundreds of millions.
Her family had gathered this weekend to celebrate her birthday, but instead were with her when she passed.
Her most famous role after Chrissy was as an infomercial pitch woman. She was generally derided for her ThighMaster demonstrations (there was something faintly sexual about the contraption), but a woman’s got to do what a woman’s got to do.
According to a statement by her publicist, she had battled an aggressive form of breast cancer for 23 years. She revealed last summer that the breast cancer had recurred. This time she couldn’t beat it. Her family had gathered this weekend to celebrate her birthday, but instead were with her when she passed.
We think Somers can best be remembered as a fighter–taking on ABC misogyny and the demon cancer. She will be missed.