How Suzanne Somers Fought for Equal Pay on ‘Three’s Company’

THREE'S COMPANY, Suzanne Somers, (1981) 1977-84
Jim Britt/TV Guide/ABC/Everett Collection

Suzanne Somers passed away at 76 after a battle with cancer, just a day before her birthday. Fans remember her for her iconic roles in Three’s Company and Step by Step, as well as her fun Instagram Lives with her husband Alan Hamel in recent years. Things weren’t always easy for her working as a woman in Hollywood but she did blaze the trail for many to come by demanding equal pay to her male co-workers.

Somers played Chrissy Snow for four seasons on Three’s Company, alongside John Ritter and Joyce DeWitt. At first, she was being paid $3,500 per week and admitted that she was “thrilled” with the pay at the time. As the show grew in popularity, she soon realized that her co-star Ritter received a huge raise. So, her husband helped her renegotiate her contract to add the same raise for the fifth season of the show.

THREE'S COMPANY, 1977-84, Suzanne Somers, John Ritter, Joyce DeWitt, second season

Everett Collection

What Somers and Hamel didn’t realize is that ABC was just forced to give raises to Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams from Laverne & Shirley and didn’t want to continue to give raises around to female stars. Instead of getting a raise, she got fired from the show. Somers revealed back in 2018, “You can’t really fire Laverne or Shirley on Laverne & Shirley. [Alan] said, ‘You’re out, they’re making an example out of you.’ I was fired from the No. 1 show at the height of my success, and I couldn’t get a job in television. I couldn’t get an interview, I was considered trouble.”

THREE'S COMPANY, Suzanne Somers, 1977-1984

Everett Collection

Unfortunately at the time, the studio was so powerful and ran smear campaigns against Somers calling her “greedy,” and the whole incident led other women to be afraid to ask for raises. Roseanne Barr was the first woman after eight years to request an increase in pay. Even so, many call Somers a trailblazer and she eventually went on to star in Step by Step and create a hugely successful lifestyle business.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 06: Alan Hamel and Suzanne Somers attend the Clive Davis 90th Birthday Celebration at Casa Cipriani on April 06, 2022 in New York City

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

She once shared that the situation, while awful, was a blessing in disguise. It was the motivation that Somers and Hamel needed to become entrepreneurs, selling products such as the famous Thigh Master. She concluded, “I kind of smiled to myself, like, you know, I didn’t wallow in anger and darkness and negativity. I don’t hate any of them. I just feel indifferent. You’re not worth my expending emotion on it. I just try to keep my thoughts in such a healthy place.”

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