“They’re going to hang a nun in the marketplace, and the nun is Suzanne,” Alan Hamel, Somers’ husband and manager, told The Hollywood Reporter. Somers brushed it off, saying it was a negotiation and at worse, they’d come back with a poor counter offer.
All Suzanne Somers wanted was pay equal to her co-star John Ritter, the male lead of Three’s Company. Ritter made $150,000 an episode. Somers made $30,000. In her favor, she believed, was that she was coming off of a Golden Globe nomination the year before in 1979 and a People’s Choice Award for “favorite female performer” in 1978, Business Insider said. Plus, Three’s Company was performing well. She didn’t believe the network would upset one of its biggest shows.
She was wrong.
“They wanted to make me an example, the thinking being that if they could fire Chrissy Snow, every other woman on television beware,” she told Closer Weekly in 2019. “And it worked. It worked for a long time until Roseanne Barr. In today’s world, I could have sued their ass and owned ABC, but at the time there were no movements or anything. But I decided not to be a victim.”
Hamel said Somers was in the unfortunate position of being replaceable.
“The network was willing to do this because earlier that year the women on Laverne & Shirley had gotten what they asked for and (the network) wanted to put a stop to it,” Hamel told THR. “They’d destroy the chemistry on Three’s Company to make a point.”
Suzanne Somers Has to Reinvent Herself
Shortly after ABC fired her, Suzanne Somers said her career nosedived. She went from being on one of the biggest television shows and now, suddenly, no one would take her call.
She had to reinvent herself. Suzanne Somers wasn’t a dumb blonde, bereft of abilities. She only played one on TV. So, along with continuing to audition for jobs, she posed for Playboy and took jobs that she wouldn’t have beforehand. She hosted a QVC show and became the pitchwoman for The Thighmaster. Ironically, this made her more famous than any television show ever had.
She also began quietly working on a stage show. She realized that people would want to know what happened to Chrissy from Three’s Company. So, she signed a performance deal with a Las Vegas casino and got to work.
“I hired the best Hollywood writers and choreographers and put together this big act,” she told Closer Weekly. “I brought Chrissy to life on stage in the middle of the show and people would give her a standing ovation every night.”
She was named Female Las Vegas Entertainer of the Year in 1987. Frank Sinatra won Best Male Entertainer.
“Life isn’t fair,” Somers tells THR. “Getting fired for asking for a raise wasn’t fair, but I landed on my feet and I’ve done OK.”