Who Is Susan Saint James?
Actress Susan Saint James got her start at age 22, starring as a young editorial assistant on the hit TV show The Name of the Game. After the series ended in 1971, she took on her next big role on McMillan & Wife. Playing Sally, the crime-fighting wife of a police commissioner played by Rock Hudson, she won over audiences with her charm and personality. After numerous film appearances throughout the 1970's, she returned to television with the sitcom Kate & Allie (1984). She was nominated twice for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy for her role as divorced mom, Kate McArdle. In 2004, her son Teddy was tragically killed in a plane crash.
Early Life and Breakthrough Role
Susan Saint James was born Susan Jane Miller on August 14, 1946, in Los Angeles, California. Saint James started her career as a teenage model and caught her first big acting break with the 1966 television movie, Fame is the Name of the Game. This eventually led to her first television series, The Name of the Game, which was based on the film and debuted in 1968. The show took an innovative approach to storytelling; it had several different stories that centered on a publishing company, and Saint James' character, editorial assistant Peggy Maxwell, served as a common link between the lead characters. The success of the show helped make her a household name, and she also earned a 1969 Emmy Award for her work on the series.
After the series ended in 1971, Saint James took a lead role in her next series McMillan & Wife with Rock Hudson. Playing the kooky, yet bright wife of a police commissioner, she won over audiences with her humor, personality, and good looks. Viewers also enjoyed the dynamic between the two main characters as they sought to solve crimes in San Francisco. Saint James left the show in 1976.
'Kate & Allie'
Taking a break from series television, Susan Saint James appeared in numerous films and television movies in 1970s and 1980s. Her role in How to Beat the High Cost of Living (1980) demonstrated her comedic talents and teamed her up with Jane Curtin and Jessica Lange. A few years later, Curtin and Saint James worked together again on the sitcom Kate & Allie. The pair played best friends who decide to live and raise their children together in New York City after their respective divorces, creating a new, albeit temporary family for themselves. Saint James' ex-hippie, successful travel agent Kate McArdle played off of Curtin's more conservative, suburban homemaker Allie Lowell. Audiences and critics alike responded warmly to the show and its honest depiction of women rebuilding their lives and families after divorce. Saint James was nominated twice for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy — in 1984 and 1985.
The show ended around the same time as the birth of Saint James' fifth child, Edward "Teddy" Ebersol, in 1989. He was her third son with third husband, former Saturday Night Live producer and current NBC Sports president Dick Ebersol. She also had a son and a daughter from her second marriage to Tom Lucas. Saint James stepped out of the spotlight and focused on her family, leading a quiet life in Litchfield County, Connecticut. She became active in the community and even started an online gift basket business based in the area.
In 2004, Saint James experienced every parent's nightmare. Her son Teddy was killed in a plane crash that also injured her husband and oldest son Charlie. The three family members were heading home after a trip to Colorado when their chartered plane crashed shortly after takeoff. She and her family have spoken publicly a few times about their heartbreak, including a 2006 appearance on Oprah Winfrey's talk show. Also that year, Saint James made a guest appearance on the television crime drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
In 2008, Saint James received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in recognition of her work. She described it as "a compliment of the highest honor," according to Entertainment Tonight.
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