The TV regular explains that she’s developed more confidence and a pride in her achievements over the years, which has in turn has made her the happiest she’s ever been.
Indeed, Susie has clocked up an impressive 47 years on-screen, and says while her life may appear “all champagne and showbiz cocktail parties” on the outside, privately, she’d endured a lifetime of deep personal pain, devastating disappointments and stinging criticism.
“As a kid I was relentlessly bullied in school. As the Australian-born daughter of European refugees, I was vilified to an horrendous extent,” she recalls. “I’d come home crying, covered in bruises and cuts. It was the gangs of girls who were the worst culprits.”
Shockingly, Susie reveals that on her 7th birthday, she was sexually molested by someone whose identity she will “take to her grave”.
“That’s something I still struggle to process. Then, in 1982, I had a horror encounter with convicted sex offender, Rolf Harris – it was at a TV show in Wollongong [NSW]. As Rolf was leaving, he gave me a hug and ran his hand down my back. I froze, absolutely stunned. He was so clever in that he made sure no-one saw it.”
In 1995, Susie shocked the nation when she graced the Logies red carpet wearing her infamous black-and-white, cleavage-revealing frock.
“That dress sparked a firestorm of hate, controversy and abuse. I was left feeling embarrassed, humiliated and totally ashamed of myself,” she says, adding she was reduced to tears in the streets by people hurling insults at her.
On the bright side, Susie says it served as a much-needed wake-up call that it was time to turn her life around.
“I was at my heaviest, having squeezed into a size 23. I’d had an unhealthy relationship with food and my romantic life was a shambles. I was at a very low emotional ebb.
“After the fallout from my Logies dress subsided, the transformation began. I quit alcohol and refined sugar, [and] I gave up meat, [instead] favouring vegetables and fish.”
Nowadays, Susie maintains power walking is her new best friend, something she credits with kick-starting her weight loss – which has seen her shed a few dress sizes.
“Looking back, I realise I’ve been blessed. And now, after exorcising negativity, I appreciate my life.
“Despite having survived dud relationships, I’m still a sucker for love and would leap at the chance to meet Mr Right!”
Read more in New Idea, on sale this week