Saturday, August 22, 2020

On Hanging Nuns . . .

What started of as a Quote for the Day growed like Topsy into the following post . . . 

In this current age of women being treated correctly, equally and with respect, it is sometimes apt to hark back to when things were different, if only to see where we have moved from and where we still need to go.  It has been reported that female stars of shows receive less than their male co-stars.

A case in point: Suzanne Somers.

In 1980, Suzanne Somers was at the height of her career, winning accolades and the public’s admiration for playing blonde bimbo “Chrissy Snow” on ABC’s hit Emmy-winning comedy “Three’s Company” alongside John Ritter and Joyce DeWitt.

In 1978, just a year after the show premiered, Somers won a People’s Choice Award for “favourite female performer.”  In 1979, the role earned her a Golden Globe nomination for best TV actress in a comedy.  Somers became a household name, making countless TV appearances and became an international sex symbol.

But in 1980, at age 34, Somers’ career came to a screeching halt when she asked ABC for a salary raise on par with what fellow cast member John Ritter was making.  “When it came time for fifth-season negotiations in 1980, Somers asked for a pay hike from $US30,000 an episode to $US150,000,” according to The Hollywood Reporter, noting the salary increase would be “equal to what her Three’s Company co-star John Ritter was receiving and comparable to salaries M*A*S*H* ‘s Alan Alda and All in the Family‘s Carroll O’Connor were being paid on lower-rated shows.”

Instead, ABC offered Somers a $US5,000 salary increase.

As a result, Somers boycotted the third and fourth shows of the new season, using excuses such as “the recurrence of an old back injury,” The Hollywood Reporter reported at the time. She finished the remaining season on her contract with ABC, but her role was decreased to a mere 60 seconds per episode and shot separately from the rest of the cast.

Eventually, Somers’ contract with ABC was terminated. The network that had made the actress a household name fired one of its biggest stars.  Later that season, Somer’s “Chrissy Snow” character was replaced by her clumsy cousin Cindy Snow, played by Jenilee Harrison.  In 1981, ABC added another replacement the following season, Priscilla Barnes,to make up for the loss of Somers.  The show would go on until 1984, but meanwhile Somers’ career came to a halt.

Somers would go on to sell clothing, jewellery, skin-care, toxic-free cleaning supplies, weight loss, and beauty products on the Home Shopping Network and her own website. She has also written over 20 books, including autobiographies, poetry, and many about ageing. Somers has continued to build a massive empire as an actress, author, and businesswoman.  Today, Somers is worth a reported $US100 million, due mainly in part to her successful product lines.

Which brings me back to her sacking from the Three’s Company show.  It was all to prove a point.

Somers’ husband and manager, Alan Hamel, recently recalled to The Hollywood Reporter:

The night before we went in to renegotiate, I got a call from a friend who had connections high up at ABC and he said, ‘They’re going to hang a nun in the marketplace and the nun is Suzanne.’ The network was willing to do this because earlier that year the women on Laverne & Shirley had gotten what they asked for and they wanted to put a stop to it. They’d destroy the chemistry on Company to make a point.


Business Insider

The Hollywood Reporter

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