Source: AMC’s Mad Men
Somewhere in the recent past, Hallmark or some HR Guru came up with Secretary’s Day. But then the paralegals got upset. And then it was the Copyroom folks. Finally the secretaries themselves got miffed–the receptionist had been included and she only stuffed envelopes until she got a paper cut! The nerve! So, to settle the fight the holiday became Everyone Who’s Not a Boss Day.
Well, I’ve been lumped in on this day many times–today in fact–and always tried to be grateful. But the year that I was given a heart-shaped candle, recycled from a boss’s daughter’s wedding centerpiece leftovers, it was difficult. (Though not as difficult as getting the firm logo-ed Christmas ornament or logo-ed Christmas candle, just sayin’…)
In honor of all the people who aren’t bosses, here’s a look at some of the best secretaries ever to grace the small screen. Here–while you read, enjoy a My Little Pony cupcake left over from my daughter’s birthday! You Rock! But hey, keep an eye on the phone, ok!? Of course we know Perry Mason would never have given Della Street a recycled centerpiece! (Photo left). [Support a real-life secretary and check out her great blog post here.]
Physical comedy is a gift and few have ever done it better than Tim Conway and Carol Burnett. In a series of sketches over the years, the character of Mr. Tudball and Mrs. Wiggins is among the most popular of all the characters created on the old Carol Burnett show. Exasperated Mr. Tudball and the airhead secretary he says “has a shape like Africa…” is the stuff of legends.
The first Bob Newhart Show in the 1970’s featured Marcia Wallace as the ultra-efficient, totally unflappable Carol Kessler as secretary to Bob Hartley (Newhart), Jerry the Dentist and urologist Dr. Tupperman. I still love this show. Carol and her on-off romantic flirtation with Jerry and finally her marriage were a big part of the show. Photo credit.
Throughout Murphy Brown‘s many seasons the standing joke was about Murphy’s monumental inability to keep a secretary. She even learned there was a support group just for her ex-secretaries. (Sadly, I’ve worked for bosses like this before and it wasn’t pretty.) In fact, Carol Kessler, even made an appearance as her secretary with Dr Hartley begging her to come back! Of the 93 secretaries –yes 93 in 10 years–I think the Elvis guy may have been my favorite. The picture shows movie and music legend, Bette Midler, as Murphy’s secretary. Photo credit.
The fictitious White House of the fabulous show The West Wing was graced for the first few seasons by the presence in the outer Oval Office of Mrs. Landingham. She was not in awe of POTUS as many would be. She’d known him since he was a boy–in fact one episode credits her with getting the young Jeb Bartlett to go into public service and eventually become President. She was smart, on-top of things, sassy and took no prisoners. Here’s a great clip:
Few secretaries have the impact of Delores Landingham. The most famous scene of the whole show just may be the President’s rant at God after Mrs. Landingham is killed in her first ever brand-new car by a drunk driver. Here is President Bartlett in the National Cathedral ranting at God just before her funeral:
For all of the bosses similar to the one in The Devil Wears Prada, it’s easy to forget the good bosses, bosses who go the extra mile. So, in praise of bosses who expect everyone to pull his or her own weight, who don’t play favorites, who don’t hire their relatives, who pay beyond the prevailing wage, who give paid vacation, who hold jobs for new moms and who just plain treat people the way they themselves want to be treated and never make an employee do their delinquent kid’s Government assignment or write his college essay: Thank you for the privilege of being your employee.
So, here’s to the original honorees–the Secretaries, regardless of their politically correct modern day titles. Take the rest of the day off–the filing can wait. Oh, but could you just make these 300 copies? And, my suit is ready at the cleaners–it was a rush and missed the delivery. You’re the best!