1 9 7 6 – 1 9 8 5 (USA)
209 x 30 minute episodes
Mel’s Diner – a greasy-spoon truck-stop in Phoenix, Arizona – was the setting for this US comedy series.
The title character, Alice Hyatt (Linda Lavin), was an aspiring singer who arrived in Phoenix from New Jersey with her teenage son, Tommy (Philip McKeon), after the recent death of her truck-driver husband, Don.
Alice was hired at a diner owned by Mel Sharples (Vic Tayback) – a gravel-voiced, male-chauvinist fry cook – where she worked as a waitress while awaiting her big break at fame.
Alice’s co-workers were the raucous, red-headed man-hungry Flo (Polly Holliday) – who was fond of telling people to “kiss my grits” – and the young, naive and impressionable Vera (Beth Howland).
Flo was later replaced by Belle Dupree (Diane Ladd), a Southern blonde, who was in turn soon replaced by the spunky ex-truck driver Jolene (Celia Weston).
In 1980, after the character of Flo proved popular with the audience, CBS gave Polly Holliday her own spin-off, called, in the spirit of its parent series, Flo.
The show related Flo’s adventures running a roadhouse in her hometown of Cowtown, Texas, but lasted only a little more than a year.
Alice and her friends experienced several interesting years together at Mel’s Diner, which was frequented by quirky truck drivers, repairmen, and other blue-collar types and by several Hollywood celebrities who appeared as themselves.
There were several interesting regular customers, including telephone linesman Henry Beesmyer (Marvin Kaplan) and Earl (Dave Madden of Partridge Family fame).
In later seasons Vera got married to the lovable policeman Elliot (Charles Levin), and in the very last episode, Mel sold the diner to a contractor, Vera was pregnant, Jolene opened a beauty salon, and Alice finally got her dream of being a singer and was moving to Nashville as the lead vocalist with a band.
The show was around for nine seasons and was a TV version of the Oscar-winning movie Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1975) with Ellen Burstyn. Vic Tayback played Mel in both the movie and series.
Mel’s Diner was sold in the final episode, and so was its set. One of the buyers was Columbia Pictures, who planned to use some of the furnishings in a future production.
Alice‘s theme song, There’s A New Girl In Town, sung by Linda Lavin at the start of each show, was written by Alan and Marilyn Bergman and David Shire.
Florence Jean Castleberry
Vera Louise Gorman/Novak
Duane R. Campbell
Phillip R. Allen