Sitcom fans will quickly recognize Millie Bronson as the spiritual sister of seventies TV icon Mary Tyler Moore. The sweet but independent working girl is a favored sitcom staple. Millie, originally played on radio by Audrey Totter, may not have actually been all that independent, she was earning her living as a secretary in a Manhattan novelty company, but she lived with her mother and had a thing for the boss's son.
It should be pointed out Mother Bronson, played by radio veteran Bea Benaderet, was of a less doting busybody and more of an older friend, and the relationship between Millie and John Boone Jr. was mostly platonic, primarily for the sake of the censors. For all that, Millie was every bit as “husband hungry” as Jane and Irma in My Friend Irma or Connie Brooks on Our Miss Brooks.
Ms. Totter got her acting start in Chicago and New York radio in the late 1930s, but found eventually made her way to Hollywood as a contract actress with MGM in the mid-Forties. She landed roles in a number of film noir classics, but the “tough talking dames” she was known for fell out of fashion by the early 1950s. Ms. Benaderet had a solid radio resume as having played The Great Gildersleeve's girl friend and George and Gracie's neighbor Blanche Morton.
Meet Millie premiered on CBS radio during the summer of 1951, and it was a hit with audiences, if not with sponsors. During the early fifties, if CBS had a hit on the radio, it was just a matter of time before it carried over to the small screen, and Meet Millie was no exception. Unfortunately, Ms. Totter's contract with MGM would let her appear on radio, but not TV, and Benaderet was obligated to continue on both the TV and radio versions of the George Burns and Gracie Allen Show. The network was quick to find another pretty blond to play the part, calling upon Elena Verdugo.
The TV version of Meet Millie premiered in October, 1952, one of the first shows telecast from CBS Television City in Hollywood. Ms. Verdugo was a regular in Universal horror films, and with Meet Millie she became the first Hispanic woman in a TV starring role. When Totter moved on to other projects, Verdugo assumed the radio role as well on January 1, 1953.
Listeners were able to Meet Millie on the radio until September 24, 1954, and on TV through March 6, 1956.