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TV satr Suzanne Somers dies at age 76 after breast cancer struggle

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Suzanne Somers, whose acting career exploded into stardom in “Three’s Company” and continued with “Step by Step,” has died.

She was 76.

“Suzanne Somers passed away peacefully at home in the early morning hours of October 15,” her longtime publicist R. Couri Hay wrote in a statement obtained by People. “She survived an aggressive form of breast cancer for over 23 years.”

She was surrounded by loved ones, including her husband, Alan; her son Bruce, and her immediate family, Hay said. They had come to celebrate her 77th birthday, which would have been Monday.

“Instead, they will celebrate her extraordinary life, and want to thank her millions of fans and followers who loved her dearly,” Hay wrote.

Born Oct. 16, 1946, Somers first attracted attention on the big screen, playing an enticing blonde at the wheel of a Ford Thunderbird as she mouthed, “I love you,” to Curt Henderson (Richard Dreyfuss) before driving off in 1973’s “American Graffiti,” sending him on a tantalizing, though fruitless, search.

In 1977 she was cast in the sitcom “Three’s Company,” playing a ditzy blonde, Chrissy Snow, alongside Joyce DeWitt and John Ritter. The three characters were roommates pretending that Ritter’s Jack Tripper is gay so that the landlord will allow single folks of the opposite sex to room together. Somers was fired from the show in 1980 after producers refused her request for a raise.

She went on to perform for several years in Las Vegas, then starred in the sitcom “She’s the Sheriff.” Somers worked opposite Patrick Duffy in “Step by Step” in 1991, a blended-family sitcom that ran for nine seasons, first on ABC and then for the last year on CBS.

Simultaneously Somers was forging a career as a health and fitness guru that turned into a multimillion-dollar empire.

Her first breast cancer diagnosis came in 2000, on top of skin cancer. In July of this year, the actress and entrepreneur announced that she’d had a breast cancer recurrence.

“Like any cancer patient, when you get that dreaded, ‘It’s back,’ you get a pit in your stomach,” she said in an interview at the time. “Then I put on my battle gear and go to war. This is familiar battleground for me, and I’m very tough.”

Other television show appearances included “The Rockford Files,” “Magnum Force” and “The Six Million Dollar Man,” in the 1970s.

Somers will be buried privately at a family service this week, with a memorial gathering to be held next month, Hay said.

With News Wire Services

 

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