Jump to content

It's a Living

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
It's a Living
Also known asMaking a Living
Created byStu Silver
Dick Clair
Jenna McMahon
StarringBarrie Youngfellow
Ann Jillian
Sheryl Lee Ralph
Gail Edwards
Crystal Bernard
Paul Kreppel
Louise Lasser
Earl Boen
Marian Mercer
Wendy Schaal
Susan Sullivan
Richard Stahl
Bert Remsen
Theme music composerGeorge Tipton
Leslie Bricusse
Opening theme"It's a Living"
Country of originUnited States
No. of seasons6
No. of episodes120 (list of episodes)
Executive producersPaul Junger Witt
Tony Thomas
ProducersJoel Zwick
R.J. Colleary
Marc Sotkin
Tom Whedon
Gloria Banta
Greg Antonacci
Paul Kreppel
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time30 minutes
Production companyWitt/Thomas Productions
Original release
NetworkABC (1980–1982)
Syndication (1985–1989)
ReleaseOctober 30, 1980 (1980-10-30) –
April 8, 1989 (1989-04-08)

It's a Living (renamed Making a Living for Season 2)[1] is an American ensemble sitcom television series set in a restaurant at the top of the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles.[1] The show aired on ABC from October 30, 1980 until June 11, 1982. After the series was canceled by ABC, new episodes aired in first-run syndication from September 28, 1985 to April 8, 1989. The series was created by Stu Silver,[2] Dick Clair and Jenna McMahon and produced by Witt/Thomas Productions, later in association with Golden West Television (1985–86) and Lorimar-Telepictures (1986–89). The series is now distributed by Paul Brownstein Productions and Warner Bros. Television Distribution.

Season 1 cast



The show follows the lives of the waitresses at the posh restaurant called Above the Top, located atop the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, California. At the helm is supervisor Nancy Beebe, the restaurant's maître d’, who sometimes fraternizes with the girls but usually gives orders and demands excellence. The plot often involves annoying Nancy in some minor way. Adding to the elegant but chaotic working environment is wisecracking pianist Sonny Mann, who makes rude comments to the women and receives insults in return. The kitchen is first the domain of Chef Mario, then Dennis Hubner and finally Howard Miller. Howard and Nancy eventually fall in love and marry.


Actor Character Seasons
Barrie Youngfellow Jan Hoffmeyer Gray
Gail Edwards Dorothy "Dot" Higgins
Marian Mercer Nancy Beebe Miller
Paul Kreppel Sonny Mann
Ann Jillian Cassie Cranston
Susan Sullivan Lois Adams
Wendy Schaal Vicki Allen
Bert Remsen Mario
Louise Lasser Maggie McBurney
Earl Boen Dennis Hubner
Crystal Bernard Amy Tompkins
Richard Stahl Howard Miller
Sheryl Lee Ralph Ginger St. James

Richard Kline also appears as recurring character Richie Gray, Jan's new husband, in seasons 3 through 6.



The show's two broadcast seasons produced 27 episodes. An additional 93 episodes were produced for the syndication run, making a total of 120 episodes.

SeasonTitleEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast airedNetwork
1It's a Living13October 30, 1980 (1980-10-30)August 4, 1981 (1981-08-04)ABC
2Making a Living14October 24, 1981 (1981-10-24)June 11, 1982 (1982-06-11)
3It's a Living22September 28, 1985 (1985-09-28)May 24, 1986 (1986-05-24)Syndication
425September 27, 1986 (1986-09-27)May 23, 1987 (1987-05-23)
526September 26, 1987 (1987-09-26)May 28, 1988 (1988-05-28)
620October 15, 1988 (1988-10-15)April 8, 1989 (1989-04-08)

Title changes


As with many other sitcoms from the 1980–81 television season, It's a Living felt the effects of the 1980 Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists strike, which limited the show to just 13 episodes in its first season.

The series was not a ratings success. For Season 2, the cast was largely retooled and the series was renamed Making a Living.[1] Two of the five waitresses from the first season—Lois Adams and Vicki Allen, played by actresses Susan Sullivan and Wendy Schaal, respectively—were removed, and waitress Maggie McBurney, portrayed by Louise Lasser, was added. However, this iteration also failed to find success, and the show was canceled at the end of the season. In syndication, the second season airs under the original title of It's a Living.

Of all the cast members, only Gail Edwards (Dot Higgins), Marian Mercer (Nancy Beebe Miller), Barrie Youngfellow (Jan Hoffmeyer Gray) and Paul Kreppel (Sonny Mann) lasted through the show's network and syndicated runs. Ann Jillian (Cassie Cranston) appeared during the network run and the first year of syndication. Crystal Bernard and Richard Stahl appeared during the entire syndicated run.



While the show was never a hit on network television, its fortunes would later turn in 1983 when all 27 episodes entered syndication. The series began to attract a following along with surprising ratings for the reruns, which prompted the producers and Golden West Television to revive it. Another factor in its sudden rediscovery was Ann Jillian's 1984 public disclosure that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

In 1985, the show was revived under its old name for the syndicated market. Most of the cast remained intact from the former version. A new waitress, Amy Tompkins (Crystal Bernard), arrived at the restaurant and was immediately accepted by the group. Jillian, who had committed to just one season in syndication, left the show in 1986 to continue her cancer treatments. Her character was explained to have married and started a family. She was replaced by Ginger St. James (Sheryl Lee Ralph). With these core cast members in place, the show continued to produce episodes for syndication until it ended in 1989.

From 2000 to 2001, TV Land aired the series occasionally for special programming blocks. In April 2018, Logo TV began to carry the series in marathon form several times a month. Antenna TV ran the series from January 2, 2020 to August 30, 2021, and it later ran on Rewind TV.

It is also available for streaming online on FilmRise and its partner streaming services the Roku Channel, Tubi and Amazon Prime Video (via Amazon Freevee), under license from the show's current distributor, Paul Brownstein Productions.[3][4]

Paul Kreppel and Gail Edwards at The Hollywood Show - 2019


  1. ^ a b c "Making a Living". The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 21, 2013.
  2. ^ "Stu Silver". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. 2014. Archived from the original on January 16, 2014.
  3. ^ "FilmRise Acquires Rights to Five Classic TV Series From Paul Brownstein Productions". Media Play News. October 18, 2022.
  4. ^ "Watch It's a Living". Tubi. Retrieved August 27, 2023.