Susan Saint James was a lovely and loony TV successor to Shirley MacLaine, her mildly kooky and clumsy free spirits came into vogue in the “free love” era of the late 60s.
Saint James was born Susan Jane Miller in Los Angeles, California, to Constance (Geiger), a teacher, and Charles Daniel Miller, a businessman. She has German, Irish, and English ancestry. Saint James was raised in Rockford, Illinois. A model briefly during her teens in both the US and in France, she soon headed to Hollywood to try her luck. Luck certainly came her way quickly as she landed a seven-year contract with Universal Studios within a heart beat. And, if that wasn’t lucky enough, her very first TV job would be in the highly popular 1966 crime thriller telepic Fame Is the Name of the Game (1966) starring ultra cool Anthony Franciosa and sexy femme fatale Jill St. John. Despite her model good looks, Susan downplayed her sexy allure in favor of a down-to-earth appeal. It paid off. She played the relatively innocent and awkward amateur sleuth “Peggy Maxwell”, Anthony Franciosa’s “girl Friday”, who always snooped a bit too much and found herself in life-threatening circumstances with Anthony Franciosa saving the day. Audiences took to Saint James and her character quickly. She continued as Peggy when a series based on the mini-movie evolved. The Name of the Game (1968) with Anthony Franciosa, Robert Stack and Gene Barry was a hit as well and Susan copped an Emmy for her work during the 1968-1969 season. She also had a fun recurring role as a equally klutzy thief who complicates things for Robert Wagner’s suave cat burglar in It Takes a Thief (1968). But, she hit her peak as Police Commissioner Rock Hudson’s plucky wife in McMillan & Wife (1971) from 1971 to 1976, her character still managing to get into her usual share of danger and trouble. A couple of noticeable roles in the films Outlaw Blues (1977) and the popular Dracula spoof Love at First Bite (1979) opposite George Hamilton could not set the foundation for a lasting movie career, however. She wisely returned to the TV series format co-starring with Jane Curtin in the liberal-minded sitcom Kate & Allie (1984), which would last five seasons. She played an adventurous libber versus Jane Curtin’s more conservative character. Susan chose to disappear from the limelight following the end of the series, move to Connecticut and devote her time to raising a family. She would also dedicate herself to charity work, notably the Special Olympics. She has since made very few appearances in specials and guest parts (the first episode of The Drew Carey Show (1995) was one, on which her niece, Christa Miller, was a co-star) from the 90s on. She is married to NBC executive Dick Ebersol, best known for his work on Saturday Night Live (1975) and is the mother of five children.
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