Celebrating Seniors – Alan Hamel is 79
Canadian producer, actor, entertainer, talk-show host and septuagenarian senior citizen Alan Hamel was born on June 30, 1936 in Toronto, Ontario. The child of immigrants himself, Hamel grew up in a Toronto neighbourhood populated with other immigrants. Hamel enrolled in Toronto’s post-secondary Ryerson Institute of Technology in 1954 but didn’t complete his program.
Alan Hamel’s first job in Canadian television series was as co-host of Razzle Dazzle (1961-1964), a CBC children’s TV show that Canadian baby boomers may recall featured Howard the talking turtle.
In 1968 and 1968 Alan Hamel hosted two television game shows for ABC – Wedding Party (1968) and Anniversary Game (1969).
An early marriage to first wife Marilyn (an artist and fashion designer), with whom he had two children – daughter Leslie Hamel and son Stephen Hamel – had ended before Anniversary Game began, and they were separated. Suzanne Somers told the Los Angeles Times that she was a divorced 19-year-old mother of young son Bruce (named for her first husband/his father) when she auditioned for her television debut as a “prize model” on Anniversary Game in 1969. By the time Anniversary Game ended, Alan Hamel and Suzanne Somers were a couple; they’ve each said it was love at first sight.
Below, Alan Hamel and wife Suzanne Somers look just has happy and loving now as they did many years ago, although clearly their hair styles (and color!) and have changed with time.
Alan Hamel’s next foray on Canadian television was as the host of a CTV daytime celebrity panel show called Mantrap, which aired from 1971-1972/3. At the same time, Hamel appeared in the comedy-variety TV series Alan Hamel’s Comedy Bag on CBC from 1972-1973.
Most Canadian baby boomers and seniors will remember Alan Hamel best from The Alan Hamel Show on CTV, which ran from 1976-1980. In addition to frequent Canadian guest hosts such as actor Alan Thicke (The Alan Thicke Show, Growing Pains), celebrity interviewer Brian Linehan (City Lights) and future Jeopardy game show host Alex Trebek, many other celebrities appeared on the show during it’s 5-year run. American actress Sharon Farrell (the original Hawaii 5-0), country singer Mel Tillis, Canadian entertainers and actors Margot Kidder, Helen Shaver, Leslie Nielsen, Raymond Burr, and Art Linkletter, were some of the most frequent repeat guest stars to appear on The Alan Hamel Show.
The Alan Hamel Show was filmed in Vancouver, where Alan Hamel and girlfriend Suzanne Somers lived together. They finally married in 1977 after dating for 10 years; that year, Somers landed a role as “dumb blonde” Chrissie on the popular baby boomer sit-com Three’s Company. Suzanne Somers guest-starred on an episode of The Alan Hamel Show in 1980, just before the series ended in 1980.
Both Suzanne Somers and Alan Hamel have spoken candidly about the struggles they and their children had in adapting to life as a blended family. Individual and group counselling helped them to forge stronger relationships with each other and their kids.
Tired of the grind of his own television series and wanting to support his wife’s career, Alan Hamel quite his TV show to begin acting as Suzanne Somers manager and frequent producer in 1980, a role he has fulfilled ever since.
In March 1980, Suzanne Somers opened at the MGM Grand hotel in Las Vegas and the Hamels lived on a ranch home they’d built near there until 1990.
Alan Hamel has produced 8 movies, documentaries, and fitness/health videos starring his wife Suzanne Somers, from the comedy movie Nothing Personal (1980) to her most recent television talk show series, The Suzanne Show (2012). In addition to producing her 1996 exercise/health videos Somersize Part 1 & 2, Hamel wrote for them.
Alan Hamel has appeared in several of Suzanne Somers documentaries as himself, including TVography: Suzanne Somers – Mastering Success (2002). And, he has popped up in other television series, documentaries and talk shows such as the short documentary Comedy Gold (2005) and an episode of Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List (2009). Hamel and Somers have also worked as a team to sell and promote various products including the famous “Thighmaster” during the 1990’s.
Below, Alan Hamel is interviewed in 2010 for a Ryerson Alumni Achievement Award.
As a couple, Alan Hamel and Suzanne Somers have had their ups and downs, including the loss of their $5 million Malibu, California home to a fire in 2007, but they are still together today, 47 years after first meeting. They are grandparents to several grandchildren, and celebrate their 39th wedding anniversary in 2016.
In 2013, young singer Miley Cyrus made some uninformed comments on the Today television show; to wit, that “When you turn 40, things start to go a little less sexual….I heard that’s when people don’t have sex anymore“. The next day on The Talk television talk show, Hamel’s wife and senior citizen Suzanne Somers (then age 66), debunked her theory of less sex for seniors, by responding that she and husband of 36 years Alan Hamel (age 77 at the time) had sex twice a day, with “busy mornings“, and partially attributed this to their us of hormones (Somers has been promoting the use of hormones made from bioidentical compounds since the early 2000’s).
Happy 79th Birthday, Alan Hamel!