Crown Publishing Group
updated 8/19/2004 1:23:39 PM ET 2004-08-19T17:23:39

Suzanne Somers “knocked on doors” of TV viewers from 1977-1984 when she portrayed the ditzy yet loveable blonde haired Chrissy Snow on ABC’s "Threes Company."  Beautiful and successful, Somers looked like she led the perfect life but on the inside not many knew of the personal demons she faced. 

Throughout her childhood, Somers’ family life was troubled: Her father was an alcoholic, verbally and physically abusing her. Diagnosed with dyslexia, she did not do well in school, yet excelled in the performing arts.  At a young age, she married Bruce Somers and became a mom to son Bruce Jr.

However, they were divorced two years later, making Somers a single mother.  She later met husband Alan Hamdel and she began to face her past through therapy and by distancing herself from her older brother and sister who were also alcoholics.

In 1977, Somers got her big break when offered a lead following alongside John Ritter and Joyce Dewitt in “Three’s Company.”  She parted ways with the show in the fifth season over a salary dispute. 

For the next couple of years, Somers had small roles and in the 1980s became the spokesperson for the infamous Thighmaster.  In 1986, she began work on her autobiography “Keeping Secrets,” which was made into a TV movie in 1991.

Before given the lead role of Carol Foster opposite Patrick Duffy in ABC’s family sitcom "Step By Step," Somers became a health guru urging people all over to “Somersize.”  This type of dieting introduced low-carb eating plans, and launched a series of eating healthy books written by Somers.

In early 2001, Somers was diagnosed with breast cancer. She caught the public’s attention when she opted not to use chemotherapy treatment but homeopathic treatment instead.  She has now become an advocate for breast cancer awareness and early detection.

Over the years Somers has created a multi-million dollar empire stemming the diet programs, exercise equipment, books, and jewelry line she created.  She also started the Institute for the Effects of Addiction on Families and has been awarded the Humanitarian Award from the National Council on Alcoholism, and the President’s Award from the National Association of American Drug Counselors.

Recently, Somers wrote “ The Sexy Years ,” chronicling her experience with menopause and breast cancer urging people to use natural hormones as therapy.

Deborah Norville sits down with Suzanne Somers on Friday to discuss her personal triumphs and her newest book.  Click here to read an excerpt of "The Sexy Years."

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