It’s hard to overstate the late 1970s stardom of Suzanne Somers, who died on Oct. 15 in Palm Springs at 76. “Three’s Company” made Somers one of the most popular faces on TV, thanks to Chrissy Snow, the naive and charming character she played on the ABC sitcom. Somers fought for equal pay decades before it became a rallying cry for female actors — and she wound up getting fired for it. But Somers bounced back with TV series like “She’s the Sheriff” and “Step by Step,” and became a ubiquitous author and TV pitch woman. Perhaps even more importantly, she inspired a new generation of stars — including Jenny McCarthy-Wahlberg. Here, the ‘Masked Singer’ panelist, SiriusXM host and performer pays tribute to her mentor and longtime friend.
We all aspire to leave behind a positive impact, and Suzanne Somers achieved that and much more. In Hollywood, she shattered stereotypes, proving that ditsy blondes were often played by some of the sharpest women in the industry. Suzanne’s brilliance was undeniable.
During my formative years, watching “Three’s Company,” I was captivated by Suzanne. It wasn’t just her physical beauty that left an impression, but her impeccable comedic timing, her remarkable ability to poke fun at herself and, most notably, her uncanny gift for winning over hearts effortlessly.
Shortly after arriving in Hollywood, I had the privilege of sharing a meal with Suzanne. They say “Never meet your heroes,” but this adage didn’t hold true when it came to Suzanne. She embodied everything my younger self had admired. She was intelligent, beautiful, humorous and, above all, compassionate. Suzanne took the time to mentor me, influencing not just my career but also my personal life.
I proudly own and have read and reread all 27 of her books, a testament to her pioneering spirit and profound impact on women’s health, including my own.
Suzanne can be described in numerous ways: icon, legend, actress, author, trailblazer, entrepreneur, activist, daughter, sister, mother, wife and friend. Yet one descriptor stands out to me, and that is “survivor.” She triumphed over a traumatic childhood, faced adversity as a single mother, stood up for equal pay rights when she was unjustly terminated in 1980 and courageously battled aggressive breast cancer in 2000. She further exhibited remarkable courage by advocating for alternative treatments in the face of powerful adversaries like big corporations in both Hollywood and the pharmaceutical industry.
I cherish many personal memories of Suzanne, from her heartfelt Thanksgiving dinners with Barry Manilow to witnessing the genuine affection she and her husband Alan shared, reminiscent of high school sweethearts. However, one memory that I hold most dear is when I asked her to reenact Chrissy Snow as my “mom” on my MTV sketch show, “The Jenny McCarthy Show,” for which she was also gracious enough to sing the theme song. My childhood dream transformed into reality as I had the privilege of acting alongside Suzanne, witnessing the enchantment of Chrissy Snow in person. Just like Chrissy, you couldn’t help but fall in love with her.
Suzanne was a radiant force of transformation in countless lives, and it’s hard to convey the depth of my appreciation for her in words. She leaves behind a loving family and a world of fans who will dearly miss her.
Thank you, Suzanne, for making our world a better place.
(Watch the “Jenny McCarthy Show” sketch with Suzanne Somers below.)