Three’s Company star Suzanne Somers tried to buck the system back in 1980. Four years into her very successful run as Chrissy Snow, Somers asked for more money.
Her reasoning for a pay jump was sound. Or so she thought. Somers was the breakout star of the show. She wanted to be paid the same as co-star John Ritter. So she asked for a significant raise, demanding an increase from $30,000 to $150,000 an episode, with 10 percent of the show’s profit. That was a big ask. Not only did she not get the raise, producers iced her character to about a minute an episode and then dumped her from the cast after the season ended in 1981.
Somers said she thought to herself, surely Three’s Company “wouldn’t get rid of Chrissy.”
Then she got her answer. “Never think you’re not replaceable.”
Somers talked about Three’s Company and the rest of her career during an interview with Archive of American Television. She admitted to going through some difficult times.
“For a year after that, I went from being the No. 1 actress on television on those desired demographics to now I couldn’t get an interview,” Somers said. “It wasn’t like today where (your) negatives can propel you. You go on Hard Copy and go on ET or Insider, there wasn’t all that. And so I sat home for the better part of the year thinking why did I do it? Why did I blow it? Here I thought I wanted to be paid like the men, what did I do?”
Somers, the Three’s Company Star, Listened To Loud Voice Inside Her Head
Then Somers admitted to some good old-fashioned self-talk. And, she conceded to hearing a voice inside her head talk back.
“And one day,” Somers said, “I hear voices, sometimes, in a weird way. I hear a voice in my head like a loud speaker, saying, ‘why are you focused on what you don’t have? Why don’t you focus on what it is you do have.’ I sat back and thought, what do I have? I have nothing — what do I have? Visibilty. Wow. Everybody in this country knows my name. I have visibility. That’s something. Most people would never get that. What can I do with that? “
Somers said she sent her husband, Alan Hamel, to negotiate for her. Hamel also served as her business rep.
“And that’s when I sent Alan in to Vegas. Went in and five years later, I walked up on the stage with Frank Sinatra. He was the male entertainer of the year and I was the female entertainer of the year. So, like the reinvention began.”
In this case, Somers went from a ditzy secretary in Three’s Company to a stage act in Las Vegas. She had a decade-long run in Vegas, performing at casinos.
And Somers also did every unconventional thing that came her way. She was in infomercials, specifically for Thighmaster, a piece of exercise equipment. Somers tried Broadway. She wrote self-help books, calling herself an expert on bio-identical hormones. Somers posed for Playboy. And she earned more roles on television.
By 1991, she starred with Patrick Duffy on Step By Step, a family-friendly comedy on ABC.
Sometimes, it’s good to listen to the voice inside your head, especially if it sounds like a loud speaker.