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ARTICLE Presents the Most Memorable Administrative Assistants in Television

By Duncan C. Client Engagement Manager at Corp.
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It's Administrative Professionals' Day on April 23rd, and to celebrate PAs everywhere, here's the list, in no particular order, of the most memorable PAs that have graced our TV screens. 

Joan Holloway - Mad Men
"Sometimes when people get what they want they realize how limited their goals were."
Beautiful, curvy, sassy, and professional, Christina Hendricks brings a Jessica Rabbit element of danger to the Queen of the secretary pool on Mad Men. Joan epitomises the kind of 60s style we remember from shows like Bewitched, but brings a sharp awareness of office politics, and the changing role of women in the workplace, to AMC's marquee period drama. Mad Men returns to AMC for its new season on July 25th 2010.
Why we like Joan: She takes no BS from anyone. Ever.

Miss Jane Hathaway - Beverly Hillbillies
"Now, Chief, in all fairness to the employees, you do not display much holiday spirit."
Miss Hathaway never did get her man, but she did get the convertible -- and in Mr. Drysdale, Miss Hathaway had one of TV's most demanding bosses. Nancy Kulp, the actress who played one of TV's most put-upon characters for eight years, served in the US Navy during World War II, and after the cancellation of the Beverly Hillbillies, tried her hand at politics and teaching acting.
Why we like Miss Hathaway: She always got the job done, despite being constantly undermined by Mr. Drysdale.
Jennifer Marlowe - WKRP in Cincinnati
"I don't get coffee, Mr. Carlson. We agreed."
Loni Anderson was catapulted to fame as the serial older-man-dating Jennifer Marlowe. WKRP's elderly general manager, Arthur Carlson, depends on Jennifer to protect him from people and situations he would rather avoid. Rather than playing into the "dumb blonde" sterotype that was almost unavoidable on television in the 1970s, Jennifer showed herself to be smart, resourceful, and sophisticated.

Why we like Jennifer: She has an extensive list of things she does not do.
Pam Beesly - The Office
"I don't think it's many little girls' dream to be a receptionist."
Dunder Mifflin's receptionist, played by Jenna Fischer is not enthusiastic about her job, and the story of her romance with co-worker, Jim, played by John Krasinski was one of the talikng points of the show's first five seasons - which might be a record for a TV show dragging out a will-they/won't-they plot line. Pam is another example of the long-suffering assistant to a semi-competent boss. There's a reason these cliches exist, though. 

Why we like Beesly: Pam blows off work to do something more fun with her best friend.
Corporal Walter "Radar" O'ReillyM*A*S*H
"Colonel Blake's office, the colonel's in conference, but if it's important I can wake him."
Gary Burghoff played Radar in both the 1970 movie and for the first eight of M*A*S*H's eleven seasons on TV. Working first as Colonel Blake's assistant, then as Colonel Potter's, Radar always tried to do what he knew his commanding officer would want him to do -- though the rest of the cast would almost always find a way to lead him astray.

Why we like Radar: He plays his wide-eyed farm-boy role, but is really the key that makes the 4077 engine turn - that boy could get just about anything from ICOR.
Mr. Waylon Smithers - The Simpsons
"What's wrong with this country? Can't a man walk down the street without being offered a job?"
For more than 20 years, Harry Shearer has played Smithers, the simpering, down-trodden assistant to the evil Mr. Burns. Fired and re-hired numerous times, Smithers devotes himself completely to the care of Mr. Burns. 

Why we like Smithers: If you're more than 30 years old, and a guy, you probably remember Harry Shearer best as Derek Smalls the bass player in the mockumentary band, Spinal Tap. But we like Smithers because he isn't afraid to dance to Devo's Whip It while wearing chaps.

Donnatella Moss - The West Wing
"You can't just randomly tumble into a girl sideways and hope she breaks up with you soon, the way you always do. "
Donna got her job as Assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff (or the Deputy Deputy Chief of staff as she calls herself in one episode), because she had left her boyfriend and wanted to work on the campaign trail. Not that she doesn't excel at her job, and through seven seasons, Janel Maloney develops the character from an uncertain personal assistant, into an independent, headstrong, and politically aware Chief of Staff to the First Lady.

Why we like Donna: She's not afraid to get into some verbal sparring with the guys, or stand up for what she believes -- but she'll let you challenge what she believes because she might be wrong.


It's not a comprehensive list, so if we missed your favorite administrative assistant, email me and let me know. 


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