Casa McMillan & Wife, then and now (inset). Swap Images
|As played by Rock
Hudson and Susan Saint James, McMillan & Wife
lived at 1132/1134 Greenwich Street between Hyde and Leavenworth. The series,
which rotated with other detective shows on NBC's mystery night, cast Hudson
as San Francisco Police Commissioner Stewart McMillan from 1971-1976. His
wife, Sally, was a free spirit whose dilettantism consistently landed her
in danger and/or at the center of her husband's caseload. In the pilot movie,
Sally's $500,000 antique Egyptian sarcophagus is stolen from "Merryvale
Antiques" while the commissioner and his wife attend an auction upstairs.
(The pilot also features the Transamerica Pyramid as a construction site
and a great bicycle chase through Russian Hill and Lafayette Heights!) In
another scene, a character played by Rene Auberjonois takes a header through
a glass door onto a balcony at The Comstock,
1333 Jones Street. McMillan and his wife move into the Greenwich Street
digs in the first regular episode. Just moments after moving in, Sally finds
a corpse in one of her moving boxes. The fact that the most famous closeted
gay actor of the 20th Century was filming a series in San Francisco in the
1970s provides layers of irony in McMillan & Wife reruns. (Scenes include
McMillan and sidekick Sgt. Charlie Enright's steamroom visits.) Though City
locations are used liberally, the real action in the series takes place
in the McMillan bedroom. The scripts were
heavily laced with sassy dialogue, sexual innuendo, and pillow talk. Puffy
but studly, Hudson was 21 years older than Saint James during the series.
Both Saint James and Nancy Walker, who played housekeeper Mildred, were
written out for the final season. McMillan was now a widower. Martha Raye
joined the cast as the new housekeeper. Hudson, a onetime lover of Armistead
Maupin, was the inspiration for the character identified only as
Entertainer Carole Cook appears as a phony psychic in the 1972 episode "Night of the Wizard," directed by Robert Michael Lewis. The episode starts out with an exciting chase scene on Russian Hill beginning at Hyde and Sacramento. Rock chases a bad guy through a series of moving cable cars. Night of the Wizard also stars Eileen Brennan, Phil Carey, and John Astin. Cook's husband Tom Troupe plays a sleazy music promoter in the Lewis-directed "Blues for Sally M," also from 1972.
In another episode, a suspect lives on a tree-lined street below Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill. Maupin refers to this area as "the pubes" in his 2000 novel, The Night Listener.
Copyright 2002 Hank Donat