TV classics: Susie aka Private Secretary

USA 1953-57, 5 seasons,  106 episodes, approximately 25 minutes each, CBS (summer reruns on NBC), black & white. Produced by: Jack Chertok Television Productions. Cast: Ann Sothern, Don Porter, Ann Tyrrell, Jesse White, Joan Banks

Plot summary: Susie MacNamara assists talent agent Peter Sands at his New York office and beyond, devoted and sweet-natured secretary that she is.

Review: Susie MacNamara is a good-hearted, savvy and fair-minded private secretary to New York talent agent Peter Sands. As a former actress, she knows how to handle her job with wits and charm, always eager to assist her boss beyond office duties and thus creating comedic moments whenever she interferes with his romantic life. Susie is close to her boss, but in sweet 1950s tradition, the plot never suggests anything beyond a deep sense of trust and mild flirtation between the talent agent and his capable secretary.

Apart from handsome Peter Sands (Don Porter), Susie regularly mingles with her best friend and office receptionist Violet Praskins (Ann Tyrrell) and, on involuntary occasion, with her boss’ main rival Mickey Calhoun (Jesse White), called Cagey. Cagey is loud and unhandy, a direct opposite to Susie’s indulgent boss, and seems slightly intimidated by Susie’s shrewdness. He has thus nicknamed her Foxy, a moniker that becomes her.

Private Secretary aka Susie was produced by Jack Chertok for the duration of five seasons until Ann Sothern walked out of her contract in 1957. She continued her TV career one year later on The Ann Sothern Show which ran until 1961 and featured her fellow Susie cast members. The part of Susie MacNamara was reprised by Ann Sothern on the first episode of The Lucy – Desi Comedy Hour (previously knows as The Lucille Ball – Desi Arnaz Show). She was rewarded with three consecutive Emmy Awards (1955-57) for her portrayal of Susie while she show itself won an Emmy for best Sitcom in 1955.

For TV enthusiasts, Susie is a real gem to watch. The cast is beautifully put together, always supported by an enjoyable group of guest stars and smooth comedy plots. Ann Sothern’s sizzling on-screen chemistry with co-star Don Porter adds to a positive cliche of the loyal, delightful secretary who does not mind working over hours for her charming boss without making it tacky. Susie is pure entertainment and a great example of a recreational program from the 1950s. It puts a smile on your face and proves once again how dramatically comedy programs have changed over the decades. As always, it depends on what you are looking for, but all I can say is give this package of fun a chance in our fast-paced times. You may end up looking for more episodes of this addicting show.

Selected episodes available on DVD. Susie sample episode


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