The Ann Sothern Show
|The Ann Sothern Show|
|Written by||Tom Adair
James B. Allardice
Robert Van Scoyck
|Directed by||James V. Kern
|Theme music composer||Bonnie Lake
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||92|
|Running time||24 mins.|
|Production company(s)||Anso Productions
|Distributor||Metromedia Producers Corporation
CBS Television Distribution (current)
|Original release||October 6, 1958– 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.
- 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.
Other notable guest stars include:
- Jack Albertson
- Frances Bavier
- Joe Besser
- Joe E. Brown
- Harry Cheshire
- Jackie Coogan
- Jeff Donnell
- Kathleen Freeman
- Eva Gabor
- Don Grady
- Joel Grey
- Charles Herbert
- Marty Ingels
- Van Johnson
- Guy Madison
- Jayne Meadows
- Sid Melton
- Sal Mineo
- Howard McNear
- Janis Paige
- Alice Pearce
- Stefanie Powers
- Cesar Romero
- Olan Soule
- Connie Stevens
- Lyle Talbot
- Mary Treen
- Lurene Tuttle
- Estelle Winwood
During The Ann Sothern Show's third season, two episodes aired which were intended to be spin-offs. The series were to be produced by Sothern's company Anso Productions. The first episode, "Always April", aired on February 23, 1961 and featured Constance Bennett. In the episode, Bennett starred as Guinevere Fleming, a former actress who had retired along with her actor husband David Fleming (John Emery) to Vermont. Much to their chagrin, their daughter April (Susan Silo) longs to be an actress and runs away from boarding school to the Bartley Hotel. April meets Katy O'Connor who convinces her to tell her parents of her plans.
The second proposed spin-off episode was "Pandora", which aired on March 3, 1961. The episode featured Pat Carroll as Pandora, a young, slightly eccentric country girl who traveled to Los Angeles on the advice of her mother. Katy O'Connor hires her as a secretary for handsome Hollywood actor Anthony Bardot (Guy Mitchell).
Unlike most Desilu produced shows, The Ann Sothern Show was not filmed before a live studio audience as Sothern reportedly did not like to play comedy in front of an audience. A laugh track was used throughout the show's run. For a time, some episodes featured a disclaimer during the end credits reading "Audience Reaction Technically Produced".
During its run, The Ann Sothern Show was sponsored by General Foods (Tang, Maxwell House coffee), Johnson Wax (Glo-Coat and Pledge), and Post Cereals. Sothern and her cast mates would often appear in commercials for the sponsors' products at the end of the episode. Sothern would then sign off with, "Well, goodnight everybody. Stay happy!".
Ratings and cancellation
During its first two seasons, The Ann Sothern Show aired on Monday nights at 9:30 P.M. on CBS immediately following The Danny Thomas Show (Make Room For Daddy). The series' first two seasons received decent ratings, however, at the start of the 1960-1961 season, the series moved to Thursday nights at 9:30 P.M opposite the ABC hit show The Untouchables. The ratings plummeted and CBS canceled the show in the spring of 1961.
The series was originally distributed by Metromedia Producers Corporation (which is now owned by News Corporation), and handled rights to syndicated prints of the show.
Awards and nominations
|1959||Emmy Award||Best Actress in a Leading Role (Continuing Character) in a Comedy Series||Nominated||Ann Sothern|
|1959||Golden Globe Award||Best TV Show||Won||
- (Tucker 2007, p. 136)
- (Spangler 2003, p. 58)
- (Tucker 2007, p. 135)
- (Tucker 2007, p. 147)
- (Schultz 1990, p. 11)
- "Scoreboard On TV Fall Plans". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media, Inc.): 10. May 26, 1958. ISSN 0006-2510.
- "New TV Show Set For Ann Sothern". Star-News. July 28, 1952. p. 11. Retrieved January 7, 2013.
- (Schultz 1990, p. 12)
- Schultz, Margie (1990). Ann Sothern: A Bio-Bibliography. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-313-26463-5
- Spangler, Lynn C. (2003). Television Women from Lucy to Friends: Fifty Years of Sitcoms and Feminism. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-313-28781-3
- Tucker, David C. (2007). The Women Who Made Television Funny: Ten Stars of 1950s Sitcoms. McFarland. ISBN 0-786-42900-3