Suzanne Somers Reveals Lessons She Learned After Breaking Her Neck, Learning to Walk Again
In the late 1970s, Suzanne Somers became TV’s hottest property playing beautiful, bubbly Chrissy Snow on the hugely popular sitcom Three’s Company. “When I go out, people still point at me. They’ll come up and sheepishly ask about Chrissy. For a character to last that long and become iconic, it was just a major opportunity,” Suzanne tells Closer. In the ensuing years, Suzanne, 76, put her popularity to good use on the TV hits She’s the Sheriff and Step by Step, but she’s become just as well known for her self-help books, wellness products and supplements available on suzannesomers.com. “I wasn’t trying to be a guru. I just was loving helping people feel better,” says Suzanne.
The star’s life took a difficult turn in 2020 when Suzanne took a serious fall in her home. “I broke my whole right side — my neck, spine, hip, pelvis and knee,” she says. “And it’s been over a year of pain and recovery. I’m not all the way back yet, but I’m going to be OK.”
It’s great that you are doing better. How did your accident occur?
“My husband grabbed my hand at the top of our bedroom stairs. He uncharacteristically slipped at the top and fell and I fell on top of him. It’s 50 steps down. We didn’t get hurt. But the torque of that fall threw me back on the cement. Full force. I heard my neck break.”
Wow. That’s terrifying!
“It’s just been a long recovery. I had to go into rehab to learn how to walk again. But I did! You know, every bad thing that happens to you is an opportunity to look for the good. I’ve learned so much about gratitude. I’ve discovered God through all this in a way that I’ve never discovered God before.”
It’s nice that this health setback didn’t shake your optimistic outlook on life.
“I always think, “What good is that negative thought going to do me?” There’s nothing, there’s no payoff. So, I live in positives and try to speak in positives, because that’s what I believe.”
How did you get started in show business?
“I was a single mother at 18, and we needed to eat. It wasn’t that I wanted to act so badly; I wanted to make some decent money. So, I signed with an agent and became an extra in movies in San Francisco.”
Do you recall auditioning for ‘American Graffiti’?
“I remember the casting office, and it was filled with blondes. I said, ‘I can’t stay. I parked in the red out front and I don’t have any money to pay a ticket.’ I was admitted into [director] George Lucas’ office. He’s a small man and was slumped down in the chair, kind of shy. He said, ‘Can you drive?’ I said, ‘Yeah.; He said, ‘Thank you.’ When I walked in my house, there was a call saying I got the part.”
Did you have any idea the movie would become a classic?
“I didn’t know. When I interviewed, I didn’t know who George Lucas was. On set, I looked around [at co-stars] Cindy Williams, Ron Howard and Paul Le Mat. I thought, ‘It looks like a bunch of losers to me!’”
Ha! What was it like to star on Three’s Company?
“John Ritter was masterful at comedy and wonderful. Funny as hell. He had a way to make everything funny. So we had a really good time. Joyce DeWitt was absolutely ultra talented. She worked so hard.”
What did you enjoy about Chrissy?
“I created that character. When I was told to play a dumb blonde, I thought, ‘Everybody hates dumb blondes. How do I make her likable and lovable?’ And I did. And I loved working with John. It was like a tennis match where I hit it across the net and then he would bang it back. A lot of the laughs we created were not in the script.”
When you left the show in the fifth season over a salary dispute, you and John stopped speaking. When did you reconcile?
“Right near the end of his life, I get a call while I am at the beauty salon. It’s John and he said, ‘Hey, babe. I forgive you.’ That made me stop. You forgive me? And then I thought, ‘Take the high road.’ He wanted me to do a guest-star part on his show 8 Simple Rules. I would have loved to have done the series with John, but a month later, he died. That was tragic.”
You’ve written 27 books on wellness topics. When did you realize this was a new career?
“It started with my books. I went into menopause quite early, and no one ever mentioned the word menopause. But all these women were experiencing what I was experiencing. I call it the Seven Dwarfs of Menopause: itchy, bitchy, sleepy, sweaty, bloated, forgetful and all dried up. I was lecturing and I did that mantra. They laughed and laughed, and I thought, ‘OK, I’ve hit a chord.’”
Tell us about your superfood Gut Renew.
“It’s a smoothie mix that tastes great. I can’t keep it in stock. When bad things in food or chemicals from cosmetics come into our GI tract, it eats through the barrier wall which degrades your immune system. It’s called leaking gut. It creates bloating, discomfort and makes you feel sick all the time. Gut Renew kind of works like spackle. It’s not a weight-loss product, but its helping people get a flat stomach again. People love it because it makes their stomachs feel better.”
You’ve been married to Alan Hamel since 1977. What’s your secret?
“Give one another lots of attention. We tell each other we love one another many times a day — and we mean it. We rarely argue. We got past that after the first 10 years when we combined families. Respect is big in our marriage. I have never had a night out with the girls, and Alan had just one 35 years ago with his son, Bruce.”
Was it hard to blend your families?
“Very difficult. No child wants a new parent no matter how nice. It almost broke us up.”
But now you’re a grandmother! What do you love about it?
“Everything! It’s the payoff. Our six grandchildren: Three girls and three boys love us unconditionally, and we are crazy in love with them. We are fascinated by the lives they are living and careers they have chosen. They are smart and funny, and we see ourselves in them.”
What’s next for you?
“More years with Alan. He’s my everything. Words cannot explain why this works, but it just does.”