The week of April 20-26 is Administrative Professionals Week, a time to celebrate the hard work of secretaries, receptionists, administrative assistants, and other support professionals.
In honor of the occasion, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite fictional secretaries from TV and movies and found that on screen as in real life, it’s the assistants working behind the scenes who often save the day!
Peggy Olson, Mad Men (Elisabeth Moss)
Peggy starts at Sterling Cooper as a junior secretary and eventually becomes the firm’s first-ever female copywriter, overcoming deeply held misogynistic attitudes in the process. In the fifth season, she leaves Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce to accept a senior position at a competing firm.
Pam Beesly, The Office (Jenna Fischer)
Pam spends several years as the receptionist at the Dunder Mifflin paper company before becoming a saleswoman and administrator. She and Jim Halpert share an unspoken romantic tension throughout the first four seasons, and they ultimately marry and start a family together.
Carol Kester, The Bob Newhart Show (Marcia Wallace)
Carol Kester is psychiatrist Bob Newhart’s energetic, quick-witted secretary, and according to Newhart’s website, she “provided a manic contrast to Newhart’s staid, buttoned-down character.” Marcia Wallace played Carol Kester on both The Bob Newhart Show and later in an Emmy-nominated guest spot on Murphy Brown.
Grace, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (Edie McClug)
Grace is the long-suffering secretary at Ferris Bueller’s high school. Though the film is set in the 1980s, Edie McClurg wanted to give her character a teased ’60s haircut because, as she told Vanity Fair, “Grace felt she looked best in the ’60s and kept her look from that era.”
Janine Melnitz, Ghostbusters (Annie Potts)
As the Ghostbusters’ personal secretary, Janine Melnitz keeps the team organized and ensures everything runs smoothly at the firehouse. Though she mostly works behind the scenes, she dons her own Proton Pack to save the day when the situation calls for it.
Joan Holloway, Mad Men (Christina Hendricks)
As head secretary at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, Joan Holloway runs a tight ship and oversees the company’s day-to-day operations. In the fifth season, she makes a controversial sacrifice to rise to the position of voting partner at the firm.
Jonathan, 30 Rock (Maulik Pancholy)
Jonathan is Jack Donaghy’s sycophantic personal assistant, and he holds a special grudge toward Liz Lemon, whom he thinks is unworthy of Jack’s attention and mentorship.
Karen Walker, Will & Grace (Megan Mullally)
Karen Walker’s shrill, nasal voice became her trademark on Will & Grace, as well as her exaggerated extravagance and comically loose morals. Grace describes her in one episode as “a spoiled, shrill, gold-digging socialite who would sooner chew off her own foot than do an honest day’s work.”
Lee Holloway, Secretary (Maggie Gyllenhaal)
Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Lee Holloway, a young, insecure secretary who gets caught up in an unconventional relationship with her eccentric, domineering boss, E. Edward Grey, played by James Spader.
Moneypenny, James Bond movies (Lois Maxwell)
Miss Moneypenny is the private secretary of M, head of the British Secret Service and James Bond’s boss. Originally portrayed by Lois Maxwell and played by Naomie Harris in the latest Bond installment, Skyfall,Moneypenny has a flirtatious but ultimately platonic relationship with Bond throughout the films.
Miss Blankenship, Mad Men (Randee Heller)
Miss Blankenship might not be Don Draper’s most dependable secretary, but she becomes an undeniable fixture at Sterling Cooper with her gravelly voice and no-nonsense attitude. When she dies quietly at her desk, Roger Sterling finds the black humor in the situation, quipping, ‘She died the way she lived: surrounded by the people she answered phones for.”
Dolores Landingham, The West Wing (Kathryn Joosten)
Mrs. Landingham is the executive secretary of President Josiah Bartlet in the first two seasons of The West Wing. She has a special ‘big-sister’ relationship with Bartlet and is one of the only staffers who gets away with addressing him in a blunt, informal manner.
Pepper Potts, Iron Man (Gwyneth Paltrow)
Virginia ‘Pepper’ Potts started out as a secretary in the 1963 Marvel comic Tales of Suspense #45, and soon becomes a force to be reckoned with as Iron Man’s right-hand woman. Gwyneth Paltrow played Pepper in the 2008 Iron Man, the Iron Man 2 sequel, as well as in the 2012 film The Avengers.
Doralee Rhodes, 9 to 5 (Dolly Parton)
Dolly Parton broke into mainstream pop culture with her role as Doralee Rhodes, a secretary plotting to overthrow her sexist, bigoted boss in the hit 1980 comedy 9 to 5.