The secretary was a minor, nearly throwaway character in many a TV sitcom or radio comedy. Not so with Irma of My Friend Irma , played on the radio by today's birthday girl, Marie Wilson . Irma was a Midwestern-born stenographer in the employ of a lawyer, Mr. Clyde (played by Alan Reed ). Though, even as the star of the show, Wilson was thrust into the "dumb blonde" role, seen by some as a forerunner of Marilyn Monroe . She came to the part as a dancer of some Broadway repute, and would go on to play a role in the now-classic The Maltese Falcon. According to Robert Kistler of the LA Times, the typecasting of Wilson "belied her personal zest for learning and intellectual self-improvement."