Suzanne Somers graduated from a TV sitcom in which she played a stereotypical shapely blond to become a self-help guru and successful businesswoman.
Somers played the dizzy blond in the role that catapulted her to stardom — Chrissy Snow in "Three's Company," a series about three roommates who shared an apartment in Santa Monica. The comedy, which also starred John Ritter and Joyce DeWitt, debuted in 1977 and gained wide popularity.
Somers left the cast in 1981 amid a contract dispute with ABC. She had demanded a sizable raise, from $30,000 to $150,000 per episode, plus 10% ownership of the show. Somers was fired and tried unsuccessfully to sue the network for $2 million.
Afterward, Somers made the second of two appearances in Playboy, performed in Las Vegas and developed and marketed, with husband Alan Hamel, the ThighMaster, an exercise device that helped to launch the infomercial. She returned to TV in "Step by Step" (1991-98) and a new version of "Candid Camera" (1998). She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001 — a personal crisis that led her to write a book, "Knockout," advocating controversial alternative cancer treatments.
Somers commented on her success as a self-help advocate by saying, "I sell my problems. . . . I've had problems since the day I was born, and I have found a way to turn my problems into assets."