Suzanne Somers was best known for her acting roles and wellness books, but she also made time for Canadian students with career aspirations in the media industry.
Charles Falzon, dean of Toronto Metropolitan University’s Creative School, said Somers and her Canadian husband Alan Hamel used to attend TMU alumni events in Toronto and Los Angeles and even hosted a group once in their California home.
Those events sometimes included the university’s media production students and the U.S. actress and businesswoman made herself “very accessible” to them, he said, recalling gatherings that took place several years ago.
“She was always very kind and supportive and motivating. She was very lovely with them,” said Falzon, a longtime entertainment executive who first met Somers decades ago when she played Chrissy Snow on “Three’s Company,” the television sitcom that made her famous in the late 1970s and early ’80s.
Somers, who died Sunday on the eve of her 77th birthday, was “very much a supporter” of her husband’s alumni connections, said Falzon.
Hamel, an actor, producer, TV host and businessman, studied radio and television arts in the 1950s at what was then known as the Ryerson Institute of Technology. He worked in Canadian television before moving to California and meeting Somers in the late 1960s, according to his TMU alumnus web page. The entrepreneurial couple was also known for their promotion of the ThighMaster exercise equipment in the 1990s.
Falzon said he will remember Somers for the “very, very interesting contrast” between her personality and the characters she portrayed.
“To me, Suzanne was always this amazing contrast between her first persona Chrissy on ‘Three’s Company,’ which was this image of a dumb blond, and … her strength, her determination to get things done — and just her confidence,” Falzon said.
“And I think that’s what many of the students also felt because, you know, they on the surface expected one thing and got a formidable entrepreneur and human.”
Somers’ publicist has said the TV star died with Hamel and other immediate family members by her side in Palm Springs, Calif., more than 23 years after being diagnosed with breast cancer. In July, Somers shared on Instagram that her cancer had returned.
“She made a made a mark and she’ll be missed,” Falzon said.
— With files from The Associated Press
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 17, 2023.