You're a Good Man, Sister

Great Gals-Secretarial Division
Stand-up dames & the eyes lucky enough to have them

"You're a damned good man, sister"

- Sam Spade to Effie Perine in The Maltese Falcon

  • Effie Perine

She manned the offices of Spade and Archer, lighting Sam's smokes, and maybe a whole lot more. The "prototype of all private eyes' secretaries," according to Bill Pronzini.

  • Kathleen

Lucille Ball (pre-I Love Lucy) played a fiercely loyal, strong-willed secretary who stood by her man, private eye Bradford Galt, in the noir almost-classic, The Dark Corner.

  • Della Street

Perry Mason's better half, in the office, and possibly elsewhere. Perry proposed about a half-dozen times, but Della always turned him down. Seems Perry wouldn't want a working wife, and, well, dammit, Della wouldn't want to miss out on the action...

  • Lucy Hamilton

When his young wife, Phyllis Brighton, was killed, Mike Shayne got himself a secretary, and started a long, long relationship. I guess Mike learned his lesson, though -- somehow Lucy and he never quite got married.

  • Sandra Hollis

Served as Jim Bennett's sounding board, professionally and personally, at times. Ignoring the example set by Mike Shayne, Jim and Sandy eventually got married, and presumably lived happily ever after.

  • Velda

Mike Hammer's beloved Velda, the only woman he could ever love. Her disappearance in the middle of a case prompted Mike's disappearance into a bottle, and when she returned years later, she was almost as hard as Hammer himself...

  • Bix

Before anyone had ever heard of 77 Sunset Strip, Los Angeles private dick Stuart Bailey had a spunky, wise-cracking, motor mouth Gal Friday, who went by the name of Bix, in the 1945 film I Love Trouble, based on Roy Huggins' 1946 novel, The Double Take.

  • Sam

One of the most memorable of the secretaries on the tube was Richard Diamond's Sam, played by Mary Tyler Moore (before she could turn the world on with her smile, she had to make do with the only part of her body ever shown-she had legs, and she sure knew how to use them...)

  • Miranda Foxworth

Elderly, crotchety, nagging, half-mother hen, half-secretary, she watched over private richard Pete Chambers, and couldn't help but worry about him...

  • Mary Huston

Secretary at the Morgan & Company Detective Agency. She often aided and abetted, and eventually married reporter and sometime private eye Robin Bishop.

  • Peggy Fair

The widow of a slain police officer and mother of a young son, Peggy had to get a job. She went to work for rough and tough TV private eye Joe Mannix, and the boob tube was never the same. Not only was Peggy no ditz, but, even more importantly, she was black. In fact, more than one wag has suggested that when the cameras weren't rolling, Joe and Peggy were going at it hot and heavy, but the network just didn't have the guts to show an inter-racial affair.

  • Peggy Nettleton

Arguably the last great secretary, Peggy served John Marshall Tanner faithfully and loyally for five novels until their mutual attraction and a particularly nasty case with some sexual overtones drove a rather large wedge into their relationship.

  • Robin Ellacott

The sharp, idealistic young temp dispatched to handle Cormoran Strike's secretarial needs was a cool, retro breeze blowing across the genre, rooting the first PI. effort of Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling) firmly in tradition, but giving Robin enough modern girl smarts to raise it several notches above a mere reheated trope.

List respectfully compiled by Kevin Burton Smith. Additions welcome.


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