Alice

Alice

Alice was one of the most successful sitcoms of the ‘70’s and ‘80’s, and it had a rather respectable pedigree. It was developed from the 1974 Martin Scorsese film Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, starring Ellen Burstyn, who won a Oscar for her performance. The TV show took the premise of the movie and introduced television audiences to Alice, a New Jersey single mother with dreams of being a singer, who moves to Phoenix and gets a job in a diner.

Alice, played by Linda Lavin, worked at Mel’s Diner to make a living for herself and her 12 year old son Tommy. Mel was played by Vic Tayback, who was the only actor from the original film to also appear in the sitcom. Mel was a great cook, but a sarcastic tightwad who often gave the girls grief.

The girls were Alice’s fellow waitresses. Flo was a Southern redhead with lots of sass and clever put-downs, whose key phrase of “kiss my grits” became the show’s most famous line. She was joined by shy and klutzy Vera, whose naïve ways earned the brunt of Mel’s ill humor.

Most of the show’s action took place right in the diner, where the staff was joined by regulars Andy, Henry, Chuck and Ralph. The clever workplace banter made Alice a hit for CBS, and in 1980 they spun Flo off into her own series, appropriately called Flo. Her spot on Alice was taken by Diane Ladd, who had played Flo in the movie version. This time, her character’s name was Belle Dupree.

The new cast was nearly as popular and Alice continued to be one of the top 10 shows on television. Ladd left after one season, replaced by a new waitress, Jolene. For the 1982 season, Mel’s mother Carrie moved in with him, and her bossy ways made the diner even more hectic and crazy. Vera met and married cop Elliot Novak, and Alice continued her on again-off again relationship with Tommy’s basketball coach, Earl Hicks.

In 1985, Alice closed the door of the diner for good, after nine seasons on the air. Mel sold the diner, Vera got pregnant and decide to retire, Jolene made plans to open a beauty shop, and Alice finally decided to go after that dream of becoming a singer. She was off to Nashville, and Alice was off to sitcom history.

If you have fond memories of watching this classic sitcom from the 70s, we hope you’ll take a moment to share your favorite Alice memories with us in our comments section below.

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