Suzanne Somers Dead at 76

( – Actress Suzanne Somers has died following a battle with breast cancer. Somers, who achieved fame in the late 1970s for her role in “Three’s Company,” went on to build a second career as a health writer and businesswoman. She had been fighting cancer on and off for more than 20 years.

Suzanne Marie Somers was born in San Bruno, California, on October 16, 1946. The third of four children, she grew up in a dysfunctional family and suffered from dyslexia, which made school a struggle for her. The only high point of her high school career was the drama club, where she quickly became one of the school’s leading amateur actresses. Somers dropped out of college in her freshman year after becoming pregnant and married at age 19.

In the late 1960s, Somers started to land small acting parts and also began appearing on talk shows to promote her poetry and the movies she appeared in. By the early 1970s, she was getting parts in popular shows like “The Rockford Files” and “The Six Million Dollar Man.” In the first episode of “The Love Boat,” Somers was one of the passengers.

Her big break came in 1977 when she was picked by the producers of “Three’s Company” to replace two female leads who hadn’t impressed viewers in the pilots. Somers’s character, Chrissy Snow, was a stereotypical blonde secretary who proved popular with audiences.

After leaving “Three’s Company” in 1981, Somers continued to get parts in sitcoms, but she also started writing health books. These were often controversial, as she focused on treatments that weren’t always accepted by doctors. After one appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show where she was praised by the host, seven doctors wrote an open letter slamming her “dangerous” views on alternative cancer treatments.

Cancer, unfortunately, was a subject Somers was all too familiar with. In her 30s she suffered from skin cancer. She was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer in 2000 and had surgery and radiation treatment. It was that cancer, which returned early this year, that finally led to her death on October 15, just one day before her 77th birthday.

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