Suzanne Somers: From Fired Star to ThighMaster Entrepreneur
Before the world knew Suzanne Somers as the ThighMaster entrepreneur, she played Chrissy Snow on “Three’s Company,” for five seasons of the hit show, which aired from 1977 to 1984. But in 1981, she was fired for demanding the same pay as her male colleague and series star, John Ritter, which would have bumped her pay from $30,000 an episode to $150,000, plus a percentage of the show’s profits, per Fox News.
“At that time, the men were making 10 to 15 times more than I was,” Somers told Fox in an interview last year. “And I was on the No. 1 show. It just seemed wrong because I was clearly being underpaid.”
Somers, who passed away at age 76 on Sunday, was an equal pay pioneer — and took a lot of backlash for it.
ABC refused to meet her demands and slowly phased her out of the show. Her last episode was at the end of the show’s fifth season.
“Now, I was out of work and labeled ‘trouble’ only because I wanted to be paid fairly for doing my job,” she said.
After getting over “the shock and the hurt and the anger,” Somers remembered that there was great power to her name that now had “enormous visibility.”
“I was portrayed as greedy and ‘Who does she think she is?’ and was persona non grata in television,” Somers recalled.
She went on to cement a Las Vegas residency at the MGM Grand shortly after her exit from the show. “We did incredible business and my stage career was started,” she said in 2016 to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Her residency was cut short due to a fire at the MGM Grand, but she went on to star in Las Vegas Hilton’s “Moulin Rouge” show for two years.
Photo by ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images | “Video Mania” Behind-the-Scenes Coverage – Airdate: October 29, 1993.
But following her stint on stage, Somers turned her attention to entrepreneurship and became a brand ambassador for an at-home exercise device called the ThighMaster. She became known for her infomercials, with one particularly memorable for featuring her in high heels and workout wear.
She sold 10 million ThighMasters in the first two years, according to Fox. While she stopped counting how many she sold, she said she made $300 million from the deal.
During a March 2022 interview with “The Hollywood Raw Podcast,” she said she bought out the company, which was developed by tobacco heir Joshua Reynolds, and owns 100% of the ThighMaster business.
“We had partners — 50/50 — and they got drunk on money when it all started selling,” she said during the interview. “They overspent to the point where they could no longer afford to be in their side of the business, so we bought them out.”
She went on to develop her own products under her name ranging from clothing, jewelry, and health and wellness products. She was one of the top-selling brands on the Home Shopping Network in 1992, and since then, her business has remained in operation and she still sells products on her website today.
“I have over a thousand products,” she told Fox News Digital in May 2022, adding that she also published 27 books, 14 of which were best sellers.
“Would I have wanted to do it this way? No, but I allowed it to take me and us where it wanted to go,” she told Fox. My biggest complaint today is that I work too much. I’m always keeping busy.”
At her time of death, Somers had a reported net worth of $100 million.