Today’s topic is nutty secretaries that my partner and I have had. Yes, the more politically correct term is “writers’ assistant” but the less p.c. and more accurate description of them is fucking loons.
Back in the day, studio secretaries were hired by the head of the steno pool. And those people were usually the craziest. So it only stood to reason that they would hire other fruitcakes. Producers then had their pick of the damaged litter.
Note: the names have been changed to protect the insane, er… innocent.
We had Carol who was into the occult. She would play new age music and stand on her head in our outer office. Perfect for greeting guests. The way my partner and I work, we dictate our scripts to our secretary so obviously she has to be in the room. Frequently we’d be silent, trying to come up with a line, and Carol would just start randomly chuckling. We asked what was so funny and she’d say, “I’m just imagining the great joke you’re going to come up with.”
Alas, one day she was having lunch outside the commissary during a gale force windstorm and a tree branch hit her in the head. She went on sick leave and was never heard from again.
Liz used to put her head down on the table during those lulls when David and I were thinking of a line, and she’d fall asleep.
Perky Bonnie, on her first day, asked if she could have a longer lunch break because she had an abortion scheduled for noon.
Poor Gina had her Porsche impounded by the FBI. Seems she had purchased a stolen car. This, after they were about to arrest her.
There’s sometimes “good” crazy and that was Ellen. She was 30, very attractive, and came in one day to ask what we thought of the nude pictures of herself she had a photographer take. Ellen was a keeper!
Carrie and some other secretaries had a little competition going. Who could sleep with the studio president first? Carrie came in third.
One day we asked Marianne to let us proofread the script we were writing one more time before she distributed it. She said, “Y’know, up until now I’ve been very patient with you guys.”
Donny regaled us with stories of being tied up in a famous celebrity’s basement dungeon. (No, I won’t tell you who… or the address… or how long he was tied up.)
And then there’s Sarah. Sarah lived in an apartment in Brentwood. Her parakeet got out of its cage and perched on a nearby tree. So Sarah did the sensible thing, what anyone would do. She called the studio and asked for a stunt man to be dispatched immediately. I get a call at home asking if I’d approve the $20,000 that would be charged to me. The stunt man was put on hold. So was Sarah.
Fortunately, we also had some great secretaries along the way and we will forever be in their debt. Ruth Horne (these are their real names), the incomparable Lana Lewis, and the late Sue Herring, who I still miss each and every day.