Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Keeping Up With Susan Saint James


"This lovable, large-eyed brunette was a surefire audience pleaser playing somewhat kooky, mildly klutzy and generally free-spirited types on TV, and in the occasional film, since the mid-1960s.  The typical Saint James character was a beautiful innocent who would boldly stumble in where more sober types feared to tread."

- Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Biography 

Susan Saint James is best known for her role as Sally McMillan in the television detective series McMillan & Wife, alongside Rock Hudson.  She is also recognized for her role as Peggy Maxwell in The Name of the Game and Kate McArdle in the sitcom Kate & Allie.

Susan was born Susan Jane Miller in Los Angeles, California on August 14, 1946 to a Connecticut family.  She is the daughter of Charles Daniel Miller (1915-1993), a businessman, and Constance (Geiger) Miller (1915-2011), a teacher.  Susan was raised in Rockford, Illinois, where she began modelling in her teens.  She attended the Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart in Lake Forest, Illinois, a private Catholic girls' high school north of Chicago, and later studied at the Connecticut College for Women (now Connecticut College) in New London, Connecticut.

After moving to California, Susan launched her television acting career with a role in the 1966 TV movie Fame is the Name of the Game, starring Tony Framciosa.  This lea to her first television series, The Name of the Game, which debuted in 1968 and was based on the TV movie.

Susan also guest-starred in two 1960s episodes of the detective series Ironside, starring Raymond Burr.  The first episode, "Girl in the Night" (Season 1, Episode 14), aired on December 21, 1967.  The second episode, "Something for Nothing" (Season 1, Episode 22), aired on February 22, 1968.

In 1967, Susan Saint James had a minor role in the pilot for It Takes a Thief.  When It Takes a Thief became a successful crime-caper series (starring Robert Wagner as the suave Alexander Mundy), Susan was cast in the recurring role of Charlene "Charlie" Brown, .Mundy's fellow thief and sometime love interest.  She appeared as Charlene Brown in four episodes from 1968 until 1970. In the early 1970s, she went on to make guest appearances in episodes of McCloud  (1970) and Alias Smith and Jones (1971).

From 1968 to 1971, Susan portrayed editorial assistant Peggy Maxwell in the adventure series The Name of the Game.  The Name of the Game was a groundbreaking series, staring Tony Framciosa, Robert Sack and Gene Barry.  The show was innovative in that it featured independent episodes tied together by one common theme, Howard Publications, the publishing empire of Glen Howard (Gene Barry).  Susan's character, Peggy, provided a common link between the lead characters.  She won an Emmy Award for her role.

Below is a 1969 photo of Susan as research assistant Peggy Maxwell in The Name of the Game.

When The Name of the Game ended, Susan took on her next important role, that of Sally McMillan, the young, crime-fighting wife of San Francisco police commissioner Stuart "Mac" McMillan, played by Rock Hudson.  McMillan & Wife (known as McMillan from 1976 to 1977) aired on NBC from 1971 to 1977.  Although Hudson was old enough to be Susan's father, audiences liked the easy chemistry between them.  

Susan won four Emmy nominations for her role as Sally.  However, due to a contract dispute, Susan left McMillan & Wife in 1976.  The show underwent a major retooling during its sixth and final season and was renamed McMillan.  Susan's character, Sally McMillan, was killed in a plane crash, along with the couple's never-seen son, Mac.

Below is a photo of Susan Saint James and Rock Hudson in their McMillan & Wife days.

After leaving McMillan & Wife, Susan appeared in numerous TV movies including Scott Free (1976), Desperate Women (1978), Night Cries (1978), The Girls in the Office (1979), Sex and the Single Parent (1979), S.O.S. Titanic (1979), The Kid from Nowhere (1982), I Take These Men (1983) and After George (1983).  In the 1980s, Susan made had guest roles on M*A*S*H (1980) and Tattingers's (1989).

From 1984 until 1989, Susan starred in the hit CBS series Kate Allie.  She played free-spirited Kate McArdle in this comedy about two divorced mothers and their children who share an apartment in New York City's Greenwich Village.  Jane Curtin co-starred as Kate's friend, Allie Lowell.

Susan appeared in a 1996 episode of The Drew Carey Show entitled "Drew and Kate and Kate's Mom" (Season 1, Episode 20, Air Date: February 27, 1996).  She portrayed Lynn O'Brien, the mother of Kate O'Brein, who was played by Susan's real life niece Christa Miller.

In the 21st century, Susan continued to appear occasionally in television acting roles.  She guest-starred as defence attorney Monica Bradshaw in an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.  The episode is entitled "Gone" (Season 7, Episode 16, Air Date; February 28, 2006).  Susan also played Joy McAfferty in a 2011 episode of the comedy/drama Suits entitled "Bail Out (Season 1, Episode 5 (Air Date: July 21, 2011).  Most recently, she had a recurring role as an old woman on some 2020 episodes of Upload, an afterlife comedy/science fiction series on Amazon.

Susan Saint James has been married three times, divorced twice, and has given birth to five children.  On July 8, 1967, at the age of 20, she wed writer-director Richard Neubert.  The marriage only lasted until September of 1968,  In 1971, Susan married for a second time, to Thomas Lucas, a makeup artist.  The couple had a daughter, Sunshine Lucas (born May 6, 1972) and a son, Harmony Lucas (born November 10, 1974).  They divorced in 1977.

On November 21, 1981, Susan wed her third husband, American television director Dick Ebersol.  She met Dick in 1981, when she hosted Saturday Night Live (SNL).   He was the executive producer of SNL at the time.  In March of 2002, Susan filed for divorce from  Ebersol, but the couple reconciled later that year.  Until May of 2011, Dick was chairman of NBC Sports.

Dick Ebersol

Susan and Dick had three sons, Charles (Charlie), William and Edward (Teddy).  Teddy Ebersol, their youngest child, was born on June 10, 1990.  Susan was 43 years old when she gave birth to him.

On November 28, 2004, tragedy struck Susan's family.  A private plane, with Dick and  sons Charlie and Teddy aboard, crashed during an attempted takeoff from Montrose Regional Airport in Colorado.  Dick and Charlie survived but 14-year-old Teddy died, along with the pilot and flight attendant.  Charlie came to the aid of his father, who was under a mile of rubble and was seriously injured.  Unfortunately, Charlie was unable to find his brother.  Twi days after the crash, rescue workers discovered the bodies of Teddy and the two crew members.  Two weeks after the accident, Susan appeared on Today and thanked people for all the love and support given to her family during such a devastating time.


* Susan Saint James is of English, Irish and German ancestry.  She has a brother, Chuck Miller and a sister, Mary Marcedes Dewey.  Her father, the late Charles"Charlie" Miller, appeared as a preacher in a 1985 episode of Kate and Allie entitled "Lovely Rita" (Season 2, Episode 16, Air Date: February 18, 1985.

* Susan had a supporting role in the 1968 film Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows, the sequel to 1966's The Trouble with Angels.  She played a trouble-prone, rebellious Catholic high school student,  Susan's other feature fills include Outlaw Blues (1977), in which she co-starred with Peter Fonda,, the vampire comedy Love at First Bite (1979) and the comedy How to Beat the High Cost of Living (1980), co-starring Jessica Lange Susan's Kate and Allie co-star Jane Curtin.

* In the late 1970s, Susan was briefly engaged to musician Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills & Nash fame.  A month after their engagement ended, Susan told Alan Markfield of the Rockford Morning Star that "our different lifestyles pulled us apart."

* Susan volunteered with the Special Olympics for many years.

* In 2008, Susan Saint. James received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contribution to television. 

SOURCES:  Biography website (www.biography.com): "Susan Saint James;" Son Teddy Who Tragically Died at 14 in Plane Crash,"by Edduin Carvajal, February 1, 2020; Stephen Stills: Change Partners, by David Roberts; Amomama.com, "'McMillan and Wife" Susan Saint James' Wikipedia; IMDb (Internet Movie Database)

- Joanne

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