THE TOP 10 ALL-TIME ADMINISTRATIVE PROFESSIONALS
Wednesday was Administrative Professionals Day, that annual day when America’s bosses honor those who make us look good – our secretaries and assistants. They keep us on schedule, remind us of deadlines, and cover for us when we sneak out of the office to play golf. In short, they do all the work, and we bosses get all the credit!
In their honor, here is my list of the ten greatest administrative professionals of all time, as we have enjoyed on TV and in movies. They are all fictional, but are great role models!
10. Jennifer Marlowe. Played by the voluptuous Lonnie Anderson, Jennifer was the receptionist and, not coincidentally, the highest-paid employee at WKRP in Cincinnati, in the 1970s TV sitcom.. She also served as an office manager of sorts, and it was quite a task managing Johnnie Fever, Venus Flytrap, nerdy News Director Les Nessman, and of course, station owner Arthur “Big Guy” Carlson.
9. Tess McGill. Played by Melanie Griffith in the 1988 motion picture Working Girl, Tess overcame her villaneous boss, Katherine Parker, played by Sigourney Weaver, to climb the ladder of success, and ultimately replace her. Along the way she also won the heart of Harrison Ford.
8. Grace … from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. In the 1986 movie classic, Edie McClurg played Principal Rooney’s assistant, as they dealt with Ferris’ sick day. She delivers to Principal Rooney the memorable line, “Oh, he [Ferris] is very popular. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts … they all adore him. They think he’s a righteous dude!”
7. Bea Taylor. Okay, technically “Aunt Bea” was not an administrative professional. But make no mistake about it, she ran the Mayberry Jail for her nephew, Sheriff Andy, and for Deputy Barney Fife. She kept the Sheriff’s Department organized, and also delivered home-cooked meals to the Mayberry Jail’s only inmate, Otis Campbell. She also helped Andy and Barney deal with other characters in the town, including Briscoe Darling and Ernest T. Bass.
6. Carol Kester. Played by Marcia Wallace, Carol was the receptionist for Chicago psychologist Dr. Bob Hartley on The Bob Newhart Show. She also doubled as the receptionist for orthodontist Jerry Robinson.
Marcia later moved her Carol Kester character to the Murphy Brown Show, appearing briefly as Murphy’s secretary. In a hilarious spin-off, Dr. Bob Hartley appeared on one of the episodes and pleaded for Carol to return to Chicago to be his receptionist. She agreed to do so, only to discover that by that time, Bob had moved to Vermont to run a small inn.
5. Pam Beesley Halpert. The receptionist for The Office, more specifically the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, Pam had to constantly cover for her boss, the infamous Michael Scott. She also had to deal with Dwight Schrut, Andy Bernard, Meredith, Toby, Creed, and of course, Jim, who ultimately became her sweetheart.
4. Doralee Rhodes. Played by a great Tennessean, Dolly Parton, Doralee was one of the famous trio of secretaries (the other two being Jane Fonda and Lillie Tomlin) in the 1980 motion picture, Nine to Five. Each morning Doralee would tumble out of bed and stumble to the kitchen where she would pour herself a cup of ambition. She would then yawn and stretch and try to come alive. She would then jump in the shower and her blood would start pumpin’ and she would soon be out on the street as the traffic starts jumpin’ as she went on the job from 9 to 5! But she almost poisoned her boss, Dabney Coleman by putting rat poison rather than sweetner in his coffee.
3. Jane Hathaway. Played by Nancy Culp, the erudite and educated Jane Hathaway served as administrative assistant to Mr. Drysdale, President of the Commerce Bank of Beverly Hills in the 1960s sitcom, The Beverly Hillbillies. In this capacity, she managed the Clampetts’ fortune and also tried to educate Jethro Beaudine. My favorite dialogue from this series went as follows:
JANE HATHAWAY: Jethro, under my tutelage, some day people will look at you and say, “There goes Jethro Beaudine … BA, MA, PhD!”
JETHRO: Miss Jane you’re a smart lady, but that ain’t the way you spell Beaudine!
2. Della Street! Yes, Perry Mason was the greatest lawyer of all time, but he never could have defended all those innocent clients in murder trials without his incredible administrative assistant, Della Street, played by Barbara Hale. Contrary to popular belief, she was not Perry’s secretary. His secretary was Gertie. Della was the forerunner of the modern-day paralegal.
And finally, the NUMBER 1 ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT of all time … Wanda Wiggins, the secretary for Mr. Tudball on The Carol Burnett Show! Played by the great comedienne Carol Burnett, Mrs. Wiggins occasionally took dictation and did typing for Mr. Tudball, but mostly she just did her nails. Mr. Tudball was played by Tim Conway, who may be the funniest man in history. Just check out “Mr. Tudball and Mrs. Wiggins” on You-Tube. But fair warning. You won’t be able to stop laughing until you wet your pants!
So that’s our list of the 10 greatest administrative professionals of all time. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to step out of the office for the rest of the day. My capable assistant Sandy “Wiggins” will be covering for me while she does her nails. Bless her heart.