Private Secretary (TV series)

Private Secretary (also known as Susie) is an American sitcom that aired from February 1, 1953, to September 10, 1957, on CBS, alternating with The Jack Benny Program on Sundays at 7:30pm EST. The series stars Ann Sothern as Susan Camille "Susie" MacNamara, devoted secretary to handsome talent agent Peter Sands, played by Don Porter.

Private Secretary
Sothern as Susie McNamara, 1954
Also known asSusie
StarringAnn Sothern
Don Porter
Ann Tyrrell
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes104 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)Jack Chertok
Harry Poppe
Running time24-25 mins.
Production company(s)Jack Chertok Television Productions
DistributorTelevision Programs of America
Original networkCBS
Picture formatBlack-and-white
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseFebruary 1, 1953 (1953-02-01) 
September 10, 1957 (1957-09-10)


Susie MacNamara (Sothern) is a former stage actress, a WAC veteran of World War II and single woman who works as the private secretary for theatrical agent Peter Sands (Porter) at the fictional New York theatrical agency, International Artists Inc. Susie's honest, good-natured attempts to help Mr. Sands, especially in romantic matters, always leads to comedic complications. Susie is usually assisted by her best friend, Violet "Vi" Praskins (Ann Tyrrell), the office's nervous and bumbling receptionist. In guest appearances, Jesse White played Mickey "Cagey" Calhoun, a chief competitor and loudmouthed agent business rival to Susie's boss. One of the show's trademarks was the set decoration portraying a 1950s state-of-the-art executive office, with stylish decor, IBM typewriters and the latest office telephone gear from Western Electric. There are occasional references to a young actress, never seen, who was a client of Mr. Sands, named Harriet Lake (Sothern's real name).

In an unusual move, Private Secretary also had two brief runs on another network. During the summers of 1953 and 1954, reruns from the recent season were shown on NBC as a summer replacement for Your Hit Parade, with the series resuming new shows on CBS each fall.[1] Private Secretary, Your Hit Parade and The Jack Benny Program were all sponsored by Lucky Strike Cigarettes. Its parent company American Tobacco Company had some financial interest in all three programs and their respective network time-slots.

Series ending

The series was renewed for a sixth season, but Sothern walked out in a contract dispute with producer Jack Chertok, ending the series' run.[2] Sothern, along with several cast members, went on to star in another weekly series, The Ann Sothern Show, from 1958–61.[3]

Sothern reprised the character of Susie MacNamara for the premiere episode of The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show (later shown in repeats as The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour). In this installment, entitled "Lucy Takes a Cruise to Havana" (which was originally a 75-minute episode), Sothern appeared opposite series regulars Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, William Frawley and Richard Keith as well as guest stars Hedda Hopper, Rudy Vallee and Cesar Romero.

Nielsen ratings

  • Season 1: N/A
  • Season 2: #24[4]
  • Season 3: #19[5]
  • Season 4: #12[6]
  • Season 5: #25[7]


SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
116February 1, 1953 (1953-02-01)June 7, 1953 (1953-06-07)
226September 20, 1953 (1953-09-20)June 6, 1954 (1954-06-06)
326September 12, 1954 (1954-09-12)June 26, 1955 (1955-06-26)
421September 11, 1955 (1955-09-11)June 10, 1956 (1956-06-10)
515September 9, 1956 (1956-09-09)March 17, 1957 (1957-03-17)


Before Private Secretary went into syndication, the opening title sequence and series name were changed. The series, which was sponsored by American Tobacco for Lucky Strike cigarettes during its original run,[8] featured the companies sponsor I.D. in the opening title sequence which could not be aired in syndication. An animated title sequence was made featuring a cartoon "Susie."

The series' name was also changed when producer Jack Chertok withheld the rights to the show's original title in hopes of replacing Sothern with another actress in the title role. Chertok released Susie into syndication in the fall of 1957. The original title sequence has not been viewed since Private Secretary's original run.

Susie aired on Nick at Nite from January 1987 to June 1990.

Home release

In 2006, two video distributors, Critics' Choice and Alpha Video, released one volume of the series on Region 1 DVD in the United States. Both releases were identical with the exception of the artwork. Both companies released three more identical volumes. The latest, volume four, was released in April of 2007. Each volume contains four episodes of the series from varying seasons.

Award nominations

Year Award Category Nominee
1955 Emmy Award Best Actress Starring in a Regular Series Ann Sothern
1955 Emmy Award Best Situation Comedy Series
1956 Emmy Award Best Cinematography for Television Robert Pittack
1956 Emmy Award Best Actress - Continuing Performance Ann Sothern
1957 Emmy Award Best Continuing Performance by a Comedienne in a Series Ann Sothern


  1. Hawes, William (2002). Filmed Television Drama, 1952-1958. McFarland. p. 95. ISBN 0-7864-1132-5.
  2. Steven Sanders, Coyne; Gilbert, Thomas W. (1993). Desilu: The Story of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. HarperCollins. p. 133. ISBN 0-688-13514-5.
  3. Karol, Michael (2006). Sitcom Queens: Divas of the Small Screen. iUniverse. p. 30. ISBN 0-595-40251-8.
  4. TV Ratings: 1953-1954
  5. TV Ratings: 1954-1955
  6. TV Ratings: 1955-1956
  7. TV Ratings: 1956-1957
  8. Terrace, Vincent (1979). The Complete Encyclopedia of Television Programs, 1947-1979. A. S. Barnes. p. 809. ISBN 0-498-02177-7.
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