How the late Suzanne Somers went from being laid off to becoming wealthy: “I never needed a job again”

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Chances are, you've probably heard of, or maybe even used, a ThighMaster – a piece of twisted metal connected by a hinge that allows the user to squeeze their thighs and work their hip adductors.

The late Suzanne Somers revolutionized the product in the '90s and, along with other women, made her mark in infomercial history, helping to shift the perception of infomercials in America from “sold out” to profitable.

“I was certainly one of the first to move from prime time to commercials,” she said shortly before her death.

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In one of her final interviews before losing her battle with breast cancer in October 2023, the “Three's Company” and “Step by Step” star described what it felt like to help revolutionize the sales method and later spoke in an interview with Fox News Fox Nation's new three-part series, “The Infomercials that Sold Us,” hosted by comedian Dennis Miller.

Comedian Dennis Miller joins FOX NATION to host new series “The Infomercials That Sold Us.”

Suzanne Somers, star of “Three's Company” and “Step By Step,” found success in the fitness industry after being fired for demanding equal pay. (Fox Nation)

“ThighMaster was originally introduced to me as a 'V-toner,' and the guy introduced it as an upper body workout, and I look at him and listen to him. I said, 'Does it work?' for the inner thighs?' He said, 'Yeah, but you know, this works for the upper body.'”

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The blonde bombshell-turned-businesswoman took the product to TV and became a fitness star, namesake of the exercise machine that's designed to help you “push your way to toned thighs.”

Orders came in en masse, signaling the success of a product that is still for sale today.


In the past, stars would go abroad to film commercials to avoid the illusion that they were somehow “selling out” in the U.S., Miller explained.

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Suzanne Somers achieved commercial success in the 1990s with the ThighMaster. (Courtesy of Suzanne Somers)

“Money is everything in Hollywood. Big laws and commercials are very tempting,” he said.

“The shooting days are short. The paychecks are big. So in the days before social media, Hollywood agents came up with a clever workaround: Their clients made commercials, but they didn't make them here. They went abroad.” he further explained.

“But three women changed the game and paved the way for stars to do commercials here in the good old USA,” Miller said.

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Somers was one of them.

After rising to fame as the lovable, goofy Chrissy Snow on the popular ABC Emmy-winning 1970s and 1980s sitcom Three's Company, she was fired in 1980 after asking for pay equal to hers male co-star John Ritter.


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Joyce DeWitt (Janet), John Ritter (Jack), Suzanne Somers (Chrissy) in the ABC sitcom “Three's Company”. (ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images)

“I will forever be grateful to Three's Company.” “Wow, what an opportunity to create such a beloved character. I had such notoriety. “I was known all over the world, but then I was fired because I asked for fair pay like the men,” she said.

“Who knew Chrissy Snow would be the first feminist? So now I'm here. I sat there and thought: How did I get from being on top of the world to now? I can't even get an interview. I couldn’t get an interview because I’m considered trouble.”


However, the ThighMaster rejuvenated her career after the layoff. She became one of the Home Shopping Network's best-selling brands in 1992 and went on to do other feats – writing books and launching other products ranging from proteins to skin care products.

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“There was also satisfaction in the compensation,” Somers said. “I have to say, 'Take this, Three's Company and ABC.' It's about reinvention. I never needed a job in Hollywood again. If something came my way and it was interesting, I would embrace it or be entertained, but I’m exactly where I want to be.”

To learn more about Suzanne Somers' success story — and the success stories of others who revolutionized pop culture in America — subscribe to Fox Nation and start streaming The Infomercials that Sold Us today.