A ‘30s movie cutie, Linda Watkins may be best known to ‘70s television fans for playing Susan Saint James’ sweetly inscrutable mother on the first season of McMillan and Wife. Whether offering up a badly cooked brunch or joining James’ Sally McMillan in an undercover adventure or two, her presence was always enjoyably light.
A series of appearances on the cult ‘60s anthology Thriller, described by Stephen King as the best horror series ever put on TV, found her exploring saltier territory, though. There, with throaty persistence, she played cheating wives and aggressive tabloid reporters, career women and opportunists who left no stone unturned on the paths to getting what they wanted.
Her episodes proved to be some of the most interesting of the series, as well. Eyeglasses that caused the wearer to murder (The Cheaters), a pair of disembodied hands that terrorized and created beauty often in the same scene (The Terror in Teakwood) and a hairpiece that imbued its owner with a ravenously destructive beauty (A Wig for Miss Devore) all figured into the shows that she appeared on.
Nicely working a similar theme, she played strong willed, defiant journalists in the latter shows, giving off a hard boiled feministic edge. The hats she wears as the brilliantly named Arabella Foote in Wig also provide her with some scene stealing capabilities, as well.
Watkins who went on to appear on episodes of such cult shows as The Munsters and The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. also provided support as part of the cast of Bad Ronald, a psycho in the wall thriller that has gained a healthy following since its first airing in 1974, as well.
Interestingly, while she cataloged over 70 celluloid credits by the time of her death at the age of 68 in 1976, Watkins actually spent the majority of her career on the stage after being disappointed by the quality of her earliest roles in film. Thus, this makes her a maverick ripe for rediscovery. A nice portion of her work available online and on physical media.
Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!