Susan Saint James Played Sally on "McMillan & Wife." See Her Now at 75.
The actor, who also starred in Kate & Allie, has been retired for decades.
Beginning in 1971, young actor Susan Saint James starred alongside Rock Hudson in McMillan & Wife, a police drama that aired on NBC for six seasons. The hit show followed the titular Stuart McMillan, a San Francisco police commissioner, and his younger wife, Sally, who often helped him solve crimes. Saint James wasn't on the show for its full duration—her character was killed off after Season 5—but by that point, the actor was already a star.
After she appeared in various TV movies and scored another starring role as Kate McArdle in Kate & Allie in the late '80s, we began to see less and less of Saint James onscreen. Today, she's 75, and more than 50 years after McMillan & Wife's premiere, a lot has changed in the star's life. Read on to find out what Susan Saint James is up to today.
Saint James mostly retired from acting in the '80s.
Though Saint James' career was very active throughout the '60s, '70s, and '80s, it was after Kate & Allie that she decided to take a step back from the entertainment industry. She'd appear in various, smaller roles after that—including in episodes of Suits and The Drew Carey Show—but she said in a 2002 interview with People (via CNN) that she realized she needed to slow down when she was so stressed, she ended up with kidney stones.
"I thought everything was fine because I was one of those people juggling knives and melons and then [saying], 'Toss me in a razor blade,'" Saint James said.
Instead, she focused on her children, including Harmony and Sunshine Lucas from her marriage to Tom Lucas, and Teddy, Charlie, and Willie from her current marriage to former NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol. (Saint James was also briefly married to Richard Neubert in the late '60s.) She also started her own baby gift basket business, Seedling and Pip, which appears to no longer exist today.
After stepping back from acting, Saint James also purchased her own radio station in her home state of Connecticut and hosted the afternoon radio show, Betty at the Beehive, as a character she created named Betty Aster. She enjoyed this, because it offered her more anonymity.
"I've lived with that name and that famous person for so many years. The biggest part of my retirement from films and television is because my kids are at that age now where they need to be the stars of our family. They don't need a mother who, when she walks in a room, they get shoved out of the way," she told the Chicago Tribune in 1993. "I've had a much more pleasant life since that star has faded. I'm trying to write the obit on that character. When I did Kate & Allie, I was Kate McArdle, I wasn't Susan Saint James. Now I'm Betty. I think of her as a character I can create and have a lot of fun with."
She suffered a personal tragedy.
In 2004, Saint James and her family experienced a personal tragedy. As the Los Angeles Times reported, Saint James' husband Dick and their sons Charlie and Teddy were all involved in a Colorado plane crash. While Dick and Charlie survived, Teddy died at the age of 14.
In a Today interview in December 2004, Saint James said that her older son Charlie, who is now a producer and director, had been the one to drag his father out of the burning plane.
She also talked about how happy Teddy had been in his young life.
"So often people die and people say, well, their pain and suffering is over, they found relief or maybe he found some peace. Teddy had found peace," she added. "He found peace on Earth. He was one happy guy."
Today and for the past several years, Boston area youth groups have played baseball at Teddy Ebersol Field, which was dedicated to his memory in 2005 (as pictured above).
She works with the Special Olympics and other causes.
Now that Saint James doesn't do much acting, she has time to devote to various causes, including the Connecticut Special Olympics. According to the organization's Facebook page, Saint James served on the Board of Directors for 27 years and founded the annual Susan Saint James Poker Tournament to raise money for athletes.
A University of Connecticut event listing notes stating that the actor started getting involved with the Special Olympics in California in 1972.
"She has served as an executive member of the 1995 Special Olympics World Games in New Haven, Connecticut working closely with 90,000 volunteers," the site explains. "She continues as an advisor, volunteer, fundraiser and cheerleader for The Special Olympics World Games, including 2007 in Shanghai, China and USA Games in New Jersey and Washington."
In 2019, Charlie, who created the Alliance of American Football—a league that operates in the NFL's off-season, told the CT Post that the Special Olympics had been a big part of his childhood because of his mom's involvement.
"I don't know that I can remember a weekend in my childhood where I was not at either a professional sporting event or a Special Olympics sporting event," he said. "Particularly in Connecticut, that was what we did. That was my family; growing up on the sidelines of sports."
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She doesn't watch her old work—except for McMillan & Wife.
Since Saint James moved on from acting, she's left some of her old roles in the past. In October 2010, she told Connecticut Magazine that she didn't watch Kate & Allie much, but she prefers looking back on the days when she filmed McMillan & Wife.
"There's something about having been there that, y'know … the Kate & Allies are the hardest to watch because the hairdos and the styles—I just haven't come to terms with the '80s yet," she said. "I'm just like, 'What was I thinking with that mullet and those shoulders?' I mean, it's just awful. The McMillans are the most fun to watch, because they're so wonderful and it was so much fun to do. And they're from so long ago, it's almost like watching period movies."
Saint James has also had nothing but positive things to say about her late co-star, Hudson, who died in 1985 of complications from AIDS. In 2021, she told Page Six that he was content with his life, despite not being publicly out as gay.
"He was the sexiest guy alive," she said. "I used to say to him, 'Such a waste!' He was lovable and funny. He was hilarious and he had a life that he really, really liked. I don't think he would have ever, ever come out."
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