Hard-boiled detectives’ secretaries provided an important domesticating influence in post–World War II radio dramas, helping to downplay the hard-boiled detective’s transgressively violent, working-class origins and frame him as a universal father figure for everyday citizens. More importantly, they presented listeners with a model of femininity that allowed young women to seek exciting—but temporary—employment outside the home. This article examines how this ideal of femininity and temporary professionalism is modeled by two postwar radio office wives: Effie Perine of The Adventures of Sam Spade (1946–51) and Claire Brooks (Brooksie) of Let George Do It (1946–54). Both women are competent and valuable assistants, but their labors are regularly dismissed and devalued as feminine and therefore effortless. Effie and Brooksie may test established gender roles by engaging in a dangerous business that brings them into contact with criminals and femmes fatales, but at the end of the day, they really want to be wives and mothers, adding to a long history of popular representations of female labor as inherently domestic.


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pp. 16-26
Launched on MUSE
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