|“||My name is Shirley. I'm a poor receptionist who lives all alone and wants very much to raise children of her own. Alas, the helter-skelter life of a working girl has left me no time to find a partner, and the cruel reality of adoption economics has left me unable to purchase even the runtiest of orphans. And so I wait and work . . . and grow old dreaming of children. Three of them to be precise. A bucktoothed baby, a smarty-pants little boy and a girl with an enormous fortune . . . uh, uh . . . bank account . . . uh, uh . . . heart. Thank you.||”|
— Shirley, The Miserable Mill: Part Two
In the books, "her" full name is Shirley T. Sinoit-Pécer, which is "receptionist" backwards.
In the TV series, "her" full name is Shirley St. Ives. The reasoning behind this is unknown.
The Miserable Mill
Klaus is successfully hypnotized, and his plights give Sir the choice to either fire them and give them to Shirley, or keep them as workers in the lumber industry.
Shirley then gives The Bald Man with the Long Nose in the alias of Foreman Flacutono the task of trying to saw Sir's assistant, Charles, in half so that the Baudelaires will finally be in "her" clutches. But the Baudelaires save the day, defeating Shirley's plans. Dr. Orwell is killed when she steps in the path of the whirring saw.
Shirley and Flacutono are locked in the library and monitored by Phil. Sir claims that Shirley being Count Olaf is so unbelievable as he met this young woman who isn't at all like Count Olaf. Sir says Shirley has one eyebrow instead of two, but plenty of wonderful people have that characteristic. Shirley defends "herself", claiming "she" was hypnotized along with the foreman. When Mr. Poe asks to see Shirley's left ankle, Shirley claims it's impolite to look at a woman's legs, but does so anyway. Count Olaf stops pretending to be Shirley and escapes by jumping out the window with the Bald Man with the Long Nose.
TV Series Divergent Canon
Shirley's role is quite similar, but the children meet "her" earlier because "she" and Dr. Orwell come to visit Sir to talk about adopting the Baudelaires. Shirley helps Dr. Orwell hypnotise Klaus but goes looking when "she" hears a noise (Violet and Sunny). They escape.
Later, Shirley and Orwell go and see how the “accident” is going to plan. Klaus is about to cut Charles with the saw, but when Violet shouts inordinate, it breaks the spell. They then have a fight, but when Orwell steps into the furnace, she is incinerated. Shirley then runs away with "her" associates.
Shirley wears three different outfits. She has a wig on, wears glasses and has red lipstick. She also wears earrings. First, she wears a pink top with a red and yellow skirt and high heels, holding a box of cookies. Then, she wears a brown top when speaking to Sir about adopting the children. Finally, she wears a red dress when seeing the accident.
- "Why, hello there, little girls, what are your names?"
- "But if you do something impolite to me, then I might do something impolite to you, like for instance tearing your hair out with my bare hands."
- "Of course not. I'm going to offer you a cookie, like a good little receptionist."
- "I'm a poor receptionist who lives all by herself, and who wants very much to raise children of her own. Three children, in fact: a smartypants little girl, a hypnotized little boy, and a buck-toothed baby."
- "Ab' isn't a word, of course. Only a stupid person would say a word like 'ab.'"
- "If you'd like, I can take you to Dr. Orwell's office—the late Dr. Orwell's office—and show you my nameplate. It clearly reads 'Shirley.'"
- "Why, it's not polite to look at a lady's legs. Surely you know that."
- "And what if it does? What if it does have a tattoo of an eye on it?"
- Olaf: (As Shirley) I'm unstoppable!
- Violet: "Why do you hate us so much?!"
- Olaf: "Because it's fun!"
- Shirley appeared shortly in An Unfortunate Actor on Acting.
- Shirley may be an oral pun on "Sir-ly", as Count Olaf is a sir in disguise, in the same way "Mandy" is a feminine name and has "man" in it.
About Shirley St. Ives
"As the first season went on, I was dealing more with the script than the books, so when the script said [he breaks into a '40's rat-a-tat-tat]: "My name is Shirley St. Ives. It says so on my nametag. See?", the language had its own characterisation" - Neil Patrick Harris on Shirley St. Ives.