Tuesday, June 28, 2011

" Oh Mac" it is...McMillan and Wife

When Rock Hudson's film career began to fade, he decided to star in the TV series McMillan and Wife, which may have been inspired by the Thin Man films. Hudson was a gifted comedian and the series gave him a opportunity to share his talent in ways he had not been able to do since his pairings with Doris Day in Pillow Talk, Lover Come Back, and Send Me No Flowers.

In the TV series McMillan and Wife, Rock Hudson plays a San Francisco police commissioner, Stewart McMillan, with a much younger, flower power wife, Sally (Susan Saint James). The story lines sometimes had Mac and Sally attending glamorous parties and charity events while solving robberies or murders. John Schuck performed as the lovable character Sgt. Charles Enright and Nancy Walker was Mildred, the couple's sarcastic maid.

Fun Fact: The interior set of the McMillans' home in the pilot episode was Rock Hudson's real home. In the second episode, they moved and the exterior shots were done on Greenwich Street, in San Francisco. The address for the couple was once given in the show as 250 Carson Street. In later episodes, a different house was used as the exterior shot of the house. In the final season, McMillan moved into an apartment .

Video from the pilot episode: McMillan and Wife (TV series 1971–1977), Once Upon a Dead Man. Sally, drags the commissioner to a charity auction where a theft takes place, which leads to a murder.

Because of a contract dispute between Saint James and the studio, the characters of Sally and their never seen (sometimes mentioned) son were killed off in an airplane crash during the fifth season. With one of the main characters missing, the show was renamed McMillan. Other cast changes included: Mildred left to run a diner (actress Nancy Walker departed to star in her own sitcom); Mac got a new apartment and a new housekeeper, Agatha (Martha Raye), who was Mildred's sister; Sgt. DiMaggio (Richard Gilliland) assisted Mac as Schuck also left for his own series.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment released the first season of McMillan and Wife on DVD in 2005-2006. On May 21, 2010, Visual Entertainment announced it had acquired the rights to distribute McMillan and Wife, releasing seasons 2 and 3 on June 7, 2011, followed by seasons 4 and 5 on July 5, 2011.

Susan Saint James (born August 14, 1946). Some of her early television performances were two episodes of the first season of Ironside ("Girl in the Night", December 1967 and two months later, playing a different role in the episode "Something for Nothing"). She also had a supporting role in Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows (1968).

From 1968 to 1971, she performed in the series The Name of the Game, winning an Emmy Award for her role in 1969. At the same time she had a recurring role as "Chuck", Alexander Mundy's partner in crime and "friend with benefits" in four episodes of the series It Takes a Thief. She also performed in the pilot episode of Alias Smith and Jones (1971). From 1971 until 1976, she played Sally McMillan opposite Rock Hudson in the series McMillan and Wife and received four Emmy Award nominations.

When she left the show, she co-starred with Peter Fonda in the film Outlaw Blues. She also performed in the vampire comedy, Love At First Bite (1979). Between films, she made a guest appearance in the 1980 episode of M*A*S*H (episode 192: War Co-Respondent). She returned to television, performing in the comedy series Kate and Allie opposite Jane Curtin from 1984 until 1989. She received a additional three Emmy Award nominations for this role. She also performed in guest roles, as the mother of (her real-life niece) Christa Miller in the first season of The Drew Carey Show, and ten years later, as a defense attorney on the February 28, 2006 episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. She also starred in the 1999 Warner Theatre production of The Miracle Worker. On June 11, 2008, Saint James was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


  1. Dawn, I haven't seen this series, but I very much enjoyed your wonderfully written and informative post! I think some stars from the 50s and 60s fell victim to the shaggy hairstyles of the 70s, but I must say, Rock Hudson really owns that look, mustache and all. It looks like Netflix has at least Season 1, which I've added to my queue. Thanks for a great read, Dawn, and teaching me about a show I might have otherwise bypassed.

  2. Dawn, this was a fun read! I remember watching McMILLAN & WIFE when it was the third series that rotated on the original NBC MYSTERY MOVIE (along with COLUMBO and McCLOUD). Unlike Sark, I could never get used to Rock in that big ol' mustache. He and Susan had great chemistry on the show. I also remember Susan in THE NAME OF THE GAME, which rotated its leading men(Gene Barry one week, Robert Stack the next, and then Tony Franciosa). She may have been the only performer in the history of television to star in two rotating series (even if the kind of "rotation" was different).

  3. Wow! This show feels like a blast from the past! I had so much fun reading your great post and looking at the costumes, hair styles, and Mac's mustache bring the '70s back to life. I especially enjoyed reading the information about Susan St. James. I thought that she and Jane Curtin were a good team in "Kate and Allie." I remember liking Nancy Walker on "Macmillan and Wife" and wishing she had a larger role in the show. Dawn, you did an awesome job!

  4. A Cafe Best, Dawn -- fun, well-written, interesting facts, GREAT pictures and clip! I loved MacMillan and Wife. I watched it faithfully until Susan left and all the cast changes were made -- I didn't really like it anymore after that. Rock and Susan were so good together. He is wonderful at comedy, and she did have that Myrna Loy type snap and humor. Of course, Schuck and Walker helped to make the show!

    I had no idea that the MacMillan interior was Rock Hudson's real home. I don't think ANYBODY would film in MY living room! LOL! Your bio of Susan reminded me of how much I laughed when I saw Love At First Bite. She was hilarious, and to my surprise, so was George Hamilton! He had always been cute, but he really did great in that comedy.

    Thanks for the memories and a great post, Dawn!

  5. Sark, Thank you, I'm glad that you found season 1, which... is my husbands and mine favorite season. I love the style of the 60's and 70's. Rock Hudson, was so handsome with his mustache. Believe it or not MacMillan and Wife, is my introduction to Rock Hudson.

    Rick.. Thank you. I also loved the shows COLUMBO and McCLOUD, I think I have all their DVDs available. I don't' know why, but.. I love men with big ol' mustaches. Rock and Susan did have wonderful chemistry. I think that was one of the reasons the show was a huge success.

    Toto, Thank you. I only watched the show "Kate and Allie." a few times. For some reason, I really never got into it.. Nancy Walker, was so funny on the show.. I always got the feeling that her character had a little crush on Mac.

    Thank you Becky.. I agree.. the show lost it's spark when Susan left and all the other cast changes. I also loved the Ironside TV show. I'm going to see if I can find the episodes "Girl in the Night" and "Something for Nothing".

  6. Dawn, I never really followed Ironside, but at your recommendation I'm going to see if I can find those episodes too!

  7. Dawn,
    I guess since there won't be a write up on Ellery Queen this series will do! Ha

    I loved everything about McMillan & Wife but the best part was the back and forth banter between Nancy Walker and Rock's characters. 70's fun. I'm just a bit disappointed that I didn't start watching it until around 74. Needless to say I wasn't all that crazy about Raye in the housekeeper role but it was still enjoyable.

    A fun post Dawn.

  8. Page, Thank you, I really did not watch Ellery Queen, so... I will be looking for your review.:)

  9. Dawn, I thoroughly enjoyed your MCMILLAN AND WIFE post! This show had been one of my favorites when I was growing up, and it actually turned me into a fan of THE THIN MAN movies in college. Alas, I turned my back on the show after luck finally ran out for poor Sally and their never-seen-onscreen child in that plane crash. It always leaves a bad taste in my mouth when my favorite characters get killed off, contract disputes or not. Still, thanks for the delightful clip and the many happy memories of a great show! (Loved Susan Saint James as "Chuck Brown" in IT TAKES A THIEF, too, before KATE AND ALLIE came along!)

  10. That was the platinum era of fabulous television shows. NBC had a real winner with its Sunday Night Mystery Movie. I would have to say that McMillan and Wife was my favorite of the series.

    Even though Rock Hudson was 21 years older than Susan, they blended together perfectly. Two A+ + + + actors!

    Sadly, today, great TV shows are no longer produced. The art has been lost. In this era of mindless "reality" shows and foolish "talent competitions," the grand classics from decades ago let you peek into the past of when true talent existed. Just three networks existed back then, but there was always something great to enjoy watching. That can't be said anymore.

  11. Thanks so much for this great post. I loved McMillain & Wife when I was a teen, and after finding it on Netflix, have rediscovered it again. Brings back such memories... even hearing the theme song takes me back. Love seeing the clothes, the cars, everything. Mac and Sally were great together, as was the interaction with Mildred. I must admit, the final season without them is just not the same. I don't like any of the replacements and can see why it was the final season.

  12. thank you so much I really love McMillan wife I used to watch it with my dad all the time and it brings back fond memories I love it

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  14. I never quite understood why the producers killed Sally off. I understand that there was a salary dispute, but they should have known that they were killing the series off. If I had been the writer I would have had Sally getting a job that had her out of town a lot. Mac could have been seeing talking to her on the phone and they could have commented that she had just left after,a vacation, to go back on the road for her job. The job could have been something big like the state department. And if Susan wanted to come back to the show no problem.

  15. Always enjoyed those Sunday nights with my oldest sister during those times in the 1970’s when this show originally aired. This was when t.v. was worth watching. This was a good detective show without any of the social justice dramas that are constantly thrown into our faces like that are done in today’s world. Good guy bad guy with the good guy always getting their criminal in the end. What brought me here today is I’m watching Macmillan and wife on Cozy t.v. now. Thanks for all of your informative work posted here.

  16. Very, very belatedly:
    The story didn't come to light until years after the series, but Susan Saint James was not the first choice to play Sally McMillan.
    Rock Hudson had approval over who was to play McMillan's Wife; the first two choices that Universal gave him, he turned down - for reasons that are disputed to this day.
    Choice #1 was Diane Keaton.
    Choice #2 was Jill Clayburgh.
    Suasn Saint James was third and paid $2.40.
    ... But all joking aside, she did turn out to be the best bet.