Sitcom Written by: Tom Adair
Directed by: James V. Kern
Starring: Ann Sothern, Don Porter, Ann Tyrrell
No. of seasons: 3
No. of episodes: 92
Producer(s): Arthur Hoffe
Cinematography: Robert Pittack
Running time: 24 mins.
Original release: October 6, 1958 – September 25, 1961
The Ann Sothern Show is an American sitcom starring Ann Sothern that aired on CBS for 93 episodes. The series began on October 6, 1958, and ended on September 25, 1961.
The Ann Sothern Show was Sothern’s second sitcom for CBS. Her first series, Private Secretary, ended in 1957 after a contract dispute occurred between Sothern and Secretary’s producer Jack Chertok. Several of Private Secretary’s cast members appeared in the show.
Katy O’Connor (Sothern) is the assistant manager of the Bartley House, a swank New York City hotel. Katy’s boss, Jason Macauley (Ernest Truex), was a timid, elderly man who was constantly bullied by his overbearing wife, Flora (character actress Reta Shaw). Katy’s secretary, roommate, and best friend Olive was played by Ann Tyrrell, who had also appeared in Sothern’s first series, Private Secretary, in a similar role. Other characters included Johnny Wallace (Jack Mullaney), a bellboy who had a crush on Katy, and Paul Monteney (Jacques Scott), a suave, French room clerk.
After twenty-three episodes, the show was retooled. Katy’s boss, Mr. Macauley was transferred to the Bartley House hotel in Calcutta, along with wife Flora. Don Porter, who had also appeared in Private Secretary as Sothern’s character’s boss, portrayed James Devery, Mr. Macauley’s replacement. Mr. Devery was a younger, somewhat stubborn manager who tended to get carried away with some new, far-fetched idea. After Porter joined the cast, ratings for the series increased. In 1959, the series won a Golden Globe Award for Best TV Show.
In 1960, the series cast was changed again. The characters of Johnny Wallace and Paul Monteney were written out. Three new characters were added; Jesse White, another Private Secretary alum, appeared as Oscar Pudney, a dishonest newsstand owner who was Katy’s nemesis. Child actor Jimmy Fields joined the cast as Richy Gordon, a musical child prodigy whom Katy helped. Dr. Delbert Gray (Louis Nye), a humorous dentist who became Olive’s boyfriend and eventually, her husband was also added along with Ken Berry as Woody the bellboy.
Storylines typically revolve around the personal lives of the staff and guests of the Bartley House. Throughout the three-year run, a storyline of potential romance between Katy and Mr. Devery lingered. In the third season finale episode, Mr. Devery realizes that he is in love with Katy and proposes to her. The episode ending was cliffhanger as Katy kisses Mr. Devery but does not answer his proposal.
The show was somewhat advanced for its time regarding women in the workplace issues. Not only did the single Katy hold a position of authority in the hotel, which made her the supervisor of a host of male employees, but when the character of Dr. Delbert Gray was introduced, so was his mother, who was a practicing dentist and was, like her son, referred to as “Dr. Gray.”
Ann Sothern as Kathleen “Katy” O’Connor
Ann Tyrrell as Olive Smith
Ernest Truex as Jason McCauley (1958–1959)
Reta Shaw as Flora McCauley (1958–1959)
Don Porter as James Devery (1959–1961)
Jack Mullaney as Johnny Wallace (1958–1960)
Jacques Scott as Paul Monteney (1958–1960)
Jesse White as Oscar Pudney (1960–1961)
Louis Nye as Dr. Delbert Gray (1960–1961)
Jimmy Fields as Richy Gordon (1960–1961)
Ken Berry as Woody Hamilton (1960–1961)
In 1957, after her first television series ended its prime-time run, Ann Sothern guest-starred on the first episode of Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show, “Lucy Takes a Cruise To Havana”. Sothern appeared as her character from Private Secretary, Susie MacNamara. In the episode, it is explained that Susie met and became friendly with Lucille Ball’s character Lucy MacGillicudy Ricardo, when the two worked as stenographers in New York City. The two later go on a cruise to Cuba together where Lucy meets Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz) and Susie meets Carlos Garcia (Cesar Romero). The episode is one of the earliest examples of a television character “crossing over” from one series to another. Lucille Ball, one of Sothern’s close friends and part owner of Desilu Studios (where The Ann Sothern Show was produced), reciprocated two years later, when she guest starred on a 1959 Ann Sothern episode entitled “The Lucy Story”. This time, Ball’s character (Lucy Ricardo) is an old friend of Katy O’Connor (Sothern), who checks into the Bartley House Hotel after having an argument with Ricky. Wiki