Take it from Suzanne Somers: 'Never stop reinventing' yourself

NIDHI SINGH and WILL LINENDOLL
·5 min read

Take it from Suzanne Somers: 'Never stop reinventing' yourself originally appeared on goodmorningamerica.com

At 73, Suzanne Somers is "thigh-ving" with a strong sense of self.

The actress -- known for her roles on "Three's Company," "Step by Step" and as the face of the ever-popular ThighMaster -- has seen her self-esteem tested at every phase of her life.

"We women are so hard on ourselves ... we try to be perfect," she said.

But Somers said she's succeeded at achieving strong confidence in herself. She sat down with "GMA" to walk through different chapters of her life that helped her become the woman she is today.

Make the negative work for you

PHOTO: Suzanne Somers, bottom left, with her older sister Maureen, her little brother Danny, and her father, Frank Mahoney. (Courtesy of Suzanne Somers)
PHOTO: Suzanne Somers, bottom left, with her older sister Maureen, her little brother Danny, and her father, Frank Mahoney. (Courtesy of Suzanne Somers)

Growing up, Somers endured constant verbal abuse from her father, who struggled with alcoholism. For years, she was called things such as "stupid" and "worthless."

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"It's not easy growing up with an alcoholic," she told "GMA."

Somers said the abuse went on for a long time -- until one night, when she decided to take her power back.

"We all have moments where your life can fall apart, or you can use it like judo -- using forward energy to win, making the negative work for you," she said.

Years later, she forgave her father, who eventually apologized for all of the abuse. Looking back, Somers said being raised by a father dealing with alcoholism was the "greatest training ever" to be an advocate for herself.

You never know who's in the crowd

PHOTO: Suzanne Somers, fourth from the left, starring as Adelaide in her high school's production of 'Guys and Dolls.' (Courtesy of Suzanne Somers)
PHOTO: Suzanne Somers, fourth from the left, starring as Adelaide in her high school's production of 'Guys and Dolls.' (Courtesy of Suzanne Somers)

Somers was born a star and those around her took notice.

During her high school production of "Guys and Dolls," in which she starred as Adelaide, a familiar face was present in the audience who foresaw Somers' bright future: Walter Winchell, celebrity gossip columnist and radio show host.

After the show, Winchell walked on stage and straight up to Somers, telling her, "You're going someplace, sister."

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At the time, Somers didn't know the significance of him being there. That was until the next day, when she saw a cropped photo of her and Winchell on the cover of the San Bruno Herald.

"That was an inkling. A peek into the life I was going to have that I had no idea was going to happen," she said.

5 seconds can change your life

Somers bagged the role as a mysterious blonde in "American Graffiti." Little did she know how iconic her few seconds on screen would become.

Before the movie's release in 1973, Somers' agent booked her as an extra for a George Lucas film.

"Whoever George Lucas was at the time," she said of the "Star Wars" creator.

Somers won over Lucas and got the role. Her one line, "I love you," only had to be mouthed and those few seconds changed her life forever.

"This is a life-changing moment. Five seconds on film that will never be forgotten," she said.

Somers said Lucas told her, "Everybody will always remember the mysterious blonde in the Thunderbird."

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And he was right. The scene led to Somers' television debut on "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson." After a chance meeting with the legendary host, during which she showed him her book of poetry where she credited herself as the "Mysterious Blonde in the Thunderbird," Somers would eventually make an appearance on his show every month, during which she read her poetry to a national audience.

A TV executive and producer saw her on the show, and later hired her for her next role in television: "Three's Company."

Focus on what you like about yourself

PHOTO: Joyce DeWitt, as Janet, John Ritter, as Jack, and Suzanne Somers, as Chrissy, in a scene from 'Three's Company.' (Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)
PHOTO: Joyce DeWitt, as Janet, John Ritter, as Jack, and Suzanne Somers, as Chrissy, in a scene from 'Three's Company.' (Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)

Somers starred as Chrissy Snow on the popular sitcom, "Three's Company," with John Ritter and Joyce DeWitt. Somers said she gave her role as Chrissy a heart and soul to make the character lovable.

"You know, I approached playing the dumbest blonde in America intellectually," she said.

During this successful period of time for her and the cast, Somers looked back and said she worked on her self-esteem because of how hard she was on herself, adding that she saw a therapist consistently and began to realize that it was OK to not be perfect.

"It freed me to realize I make mistakes. I've made bad choices, we all have," she said.

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Keep reinventing

PHOTO: Suzanne Somers poses for a portrait, Oct. 15, 1997, in Los Angeles. (Jeff Katz/Getty Images, FILE)
PHOTO: Suzanne Somers poses for a portrait, Oct. 15, 1997, in Los Angeles. (Jeff Katz/Getty Images, FILE)

The ThighMaster, a popular exercise product to tone and strengthen thigh muscles, was revolutionary. Not only for fitness enthusiasts, but for Somers as well.

"This changed my life. This changed my fortune," she said.

At the height of her career on "Three's Company," Somers was let go after requesting a higher salary.

"A voice in my head said, 'Why are you focused on what you don't have? Why don't you focus on what you do have?'" she said.

After realizing she had enormous visibility, Somers wanted to find a way to use that to make a living.

Josh Reynolds, inventor of the ThighMaster, asked Somers to be the face of his product to sell it on TV. Somers claimed in an interview with Inc. that 10 million of the devices have been sold.

"This success made me realize: Keep reinventing. Never stop reinventing," she said.