The Fountain of Youth or Medical Baloney?

It's nearly impossible, even now, to see Suzanne Somers and not be reminded of her trademark laugh.

Her Chrissy Snow character was one-third of the "Three's Company" trio, which dominated prime time television in the 1970s and '80s. Sweet but simple, Chrissy became an enduring television icon.

But playing that role would not be the last chapter in Suzanne Somers' story.

Watch the story tonight on "Nightline" at 11:35 p.m. ET

She is now a best-selling fitness and nutrition author with more than 10 million books in print.

Suzanne Somers

"The theory behind anti-aging is keeping your insides young -- keeping your body strong," Somers said.

Now 61 years old, Somers brought "Nightline" along to visit one of the doctors she champions in her latest book, "Breakthrough." She is the self-styled face of what she describes as the visionary field of anti-aging medicine.

"I'm probably more involved with doctors than the average person," Somers said. "I don't think we practice health care in this country. I think we practice disease care."

Central to her message is the use of unproven, potentially dangerous hormonal therapies, making Somers as controversial as she is successful.

"I'm probably the happiest I've ever been in my whole life," she said. "And the most content. The most fulfilled. The most satisfied. Doing what I love."

A Bumpy Road to a Happy Place

She played Chrissy Snow for six years until a contract dispute forced her out of "Three's Company." She said the show's producers literally banished her from contact with the rest of the cast.

"They forced me to finish out my contract but relegated me to one minute at the end of the show," she remembered. "I was not allowed to interact with anybody else in the cast. An armed guard would meet me at the back door of the studio and walk me in so that I wasn't able to interact with anybody, and that was traumatic."

But her life after so much success in a short amount of time was not one Somers had hoped for.

"I couldn't get a job anywhere," she said. "I couldn't get an interview anywhere. I was considered trouble in the industry. And one day,I thought, 'Why don't I focus on what I do have?' And I thought, 'What do I have?' I have enormous visibility. Everybody in this country knows my name. That's worth something."

Somers enjoyed huge success using her name to sell a long list of lifestyle and fitness products, including the iconic ThighMaster.

In middle age and still a fixture in the fitness industry, Somers became focused on how aging was affecting her body. She was dissatisfied with what mainstream medicine offered.

"I just looked around, and I saw something happening," she recalled. "I saw that from the time people reached middle age, they start on pharmaceutical drugs. [Do] we really need a prescription drug for every single ailment?"

Anti-Aging's 'Bad Rap'

She believes she has found a better solution. In her new book, Somers promotes untested hormonal treatments as cures for the effects of aging. These claims about hormone replacement, repeated in millions of printed pages, have made her a lightning rod for criticism.

"Anti-aging gets such a bad rap. It sounds like it's a bunch of quacks," she said. "What it really is are some of the brilliant minds in this country have stepped back and said, 'There has got to be a better way.'"

Somers admits she has no medical training and is not a scientist, but she also insists that she knows what she is talking about.

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