Susan Saint James has been married to her TV wunderkind husband Dick Ebersol for over four decades, but things have not always been easy.
Born in August 1946 in Los Angeles, California, Susan Saint James is an Emmy Award-winning actress who launched her TV career at 20 by working in "The Name of the Game."
That was the only series that won her a Primetime Emmy Award, even though she received nominations for many more. Still, James is best known for portraying Stuart McMillan's wife in "McMillan & Wife" and Kate in "Kate & Allie."
Promotional photo of Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James for "McMillan & Wife" circa 1974 [left] James' son, Teddy, in an Instagram post from June 10, 2021 | Source: Getty Images - Instagram.com/susie1q
MEETING DUNCAN EBERSOL
After two failed marriages (Richard Neubert and Tom Lucas), James found love again in TV executive Duncan "Dick" Ebersol.
His career has been making headlines for decades, especially after he became NBC's youngest vice-president at 28 and even produced fan-favorite "Saturday Night Live."
Promotional photo of Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James for "McMillan & Wife" circa 1974 | Source: Getty Images
Speaking of "SNL," it was crucial for James and Ebersol's romance. The actress hosted one of the shows, so Ebersol visited her at her hotel beforehand to talk about it, and they got along great.
The following day, they went to a nightclub after wrapping up rehearsals. Paparazzi took photos of James and Ebersol kissing, and other NBC executives were worried and wanted to know if Ebersol would hook up with every female "SNL" host.
However, James and Ebersol's connection was different. He confessed they were "nuts about each other" by the end of that week. They tied the knot at her Hollywood Hills home less than two months later.
Eventually, the couple moved to a house in Connecticut. They took James' two children from her relationship with Lucas – daughter Sunshine and son Harmony – with them.
The worst moment in Charlie's life came minutes after the explosion.
INSIDE THE FAMILY TRAGEDY
After saying "I Do," Ebersol and James enlarged their family. They welcomed three sons: Charlie, Willie, and Teddy. In 1990, after having Teddy, James took time off the entertainment industry to be a full-time mom.
Unfortunately, life had a heartbreaking tragedy prepared for the family. They celebrated Thanksgiving in 2004, and on November 28, James, Ebersol, Charlie, and Teddy boarded a private jet in California.
After dropping James off in Colorado, the rest of the family was supposed to go east. However, the plane crashed shortly after takeoff, hitting the ground at more than 100 miles per hour.
Charlie was conscious and relatively uninjured, so he searched for his family. He found Ebersol under a pile of rubble, dug him out, and saved him.
When Charlie returned for Teddy, the plane exploded. Authorities found Teddy's body two days later. The impact threw him and the two crew members (who also passed away) from the aircraft. Ebersol eventually revealed Teddy's last words before the crash:
"[Teddy] said, 'Dad, I'm scared.' He didn't say it in a way that he was petrified – he just wanted to pass it on to me to solve it."
The accident understandably affected Charlie. Years later, he confessed he thought about it every time he closed his eyes, started his car, and even got out of bed.
Charlie had a hard time before rescuers found Teddy's body and determined he was thrown on impact. He kept thinking he had not seen his younger brother inside the plane.
When authorities found Teddy, Charlie understood he did everything to save his brother. Still, the worst moment in Charlie's life came minutes after the explosion.
Susan Saint James on June 11, 2008 in Hollywood, California | Source: Getty Images
He called James, told her about the accident, said Ebersol was okay and asked her to return to help him look for Teddy. Charlie realized his mom needed to drive back for about an hour with only that information in hand.
The accident changed James' life, too. She went straight to the hospital where Charlie and Ebersol received medical attention and then went to a larger hospital with them. James said:
"I just left the crash. I left Teddy. I left everything, and I went [to the hospital]. I said to somebody later, 'Why would I do that? Why wouldn't I go back to the crash and look for Teddy?'"
She eventually understood that the human instinct made her follow the living. James also admitted Ebersol told her Teddy was gone. The boy was 14 years old.
James confessed the first few months after the accident were exhausting. She kept trying to make everybody in her family feel better but did little to nothing for herself.
It was okay to cry and be sad the rest of their lives, but they should never be bitter, angry, or mad.
THEIR LIVES AFTER THE TRAGEDY
Although dealing with such a painful loss was heartbreaking, James, Ebersol, and their family found solace knowing that Teddy accomplished a lot, including overcoming a learning disability.
Charlie said his younger brother was "a very angry kid" who matured into the "complete person that you hope you will be when you die." The boy became best friends with James and developed a loving relationship with Ebersol.
The first anniversary of Teddy's death was challenging but meaningful for the family. James and Ebersol thought they should leave their house, but their four children preferred to stay home.
Charlie admitted the anniversary day was hard, but the rest of the week was the closest and happiest he had ever been to his family. They were sure it would be miserable, but it was more of a celebration.
James made the grieving process much easier by encouraging everyone to reject bitterness, anger, and resentment because they were as unhealthy as "taking poison."
Ebersol revealed his wife gave them release by telling them it was okay to cry and be sad the rest of their lives, but they should never be bitter, angry, or mad.
Nowadays, Charlie is a talented producer and writer known for "The Wanted." He married Melody McCloskey in July 2017 and is producing a Netflix project with Noah Centineo.
Willie and Sunshine prefer to keep most details of their lives away from the spotlight. Still, Willie is involved in the entertainment industry and works as a film producer and director.
However, she introduced her seventh grandchild to her Instagram followers in July 2021. She made sure the face of the baby was not visible, though. What a resilient family!