It's a Living
|It's a Living|
|Also known as||Making a Living|
Sheryl Lee Ralph
|Theme music composer||George Aliceson Tipton|
|Opening theme||"It's a Living" performed by Leslie Bricusse|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||6|
|No. of episodes||120 (list of episodes)|
Paul Junger Witt|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Witt/Thomas Productions|
Golden West Television|
|Original release||October 30, 1980– April 8, 1989|
It's a Living (also known as Making a Living) is an American sitcom set in a restaurant at the top of the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles. 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, 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 show follows the lives of the waitresses at the posh restaurant Above the Top, located at the top of the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, California. At the helm was supervisor Nancy Beebe (Marian Mercer), the restaurant's maître d’, who sometimes fraternized with the girls but usually gave orders. More often than not the scheme of the week involved upsetting Nancy in some way because all she wanted was an orderly wait staff. Adding to the chaotic working environment was a wisecracking pianist named Sonny Mann (Paul Kreppel), who made rude comments to the women, Nancy included, and got insulted in return. The kitchen was the domain of Chef Mario (Bert Remsen), then Dennis Hubner (Earl Boen), and finally Howard Miller (Richard Stahl), who eventually married Nancy.
|Barrie Youngfellow||Jan Hoffmeyer Gray|
|Gail Edwards||Dot Higgins|
|Marian Mercer||Nancy Beebe|
|Paul Kreppel||Sonny Mann|
|Ann Jillian||Cassie Cranston|
|Susan Sullivan||Lois Adams|
|Wendy Schaal||Vicki Allen|
|Louise Lasser||Maggie McBurney|
|Earl Boen||Dennis Hubner|
|Crystal Bernard||Amy Tompkins|
|Richard Stahl||Howard Miller|
|Sheryl Lee Ralph||Ginger St. James|
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.
|First aired||Last aired||Network|
|1||It's a Living||13||November 13, 1980||August 4, 1981||ABC|
|2||Making a Living||14||October 24, 1981||June 11, 1982|
|3||It's a Living||22||September 28, 1985||May 24, 1986||Syndication|
|4||25||September 27, 1986||May 23, 1987|
|5||26||September 26, 1987||May 28, 1988|
|6||20||October 15, 1988||April 8, 1989|
Like many other sitcoms that aired during the 1980–81 television season, It's a Living felt the effects of the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists strike that occurred in 1980. This caused the show to have an abbreviated first season and thus it was not a success. The series was retooled extensively, with two of the five waitresses from the first season, actresses Susan Sullivan and Wendy Schaal, who played waitresses Lois Adams and Vicki Allen, respectively, being replaced with actress Louise Lasser, who portrayed waitress Maggie McBurney. Airing in 1981 under the name Making a Living, this iteration did not catch on either, and the show was canceled after two seasons. In syndication, the second season airs under the title It's a Living.
Of all the cast, only Gail Edwards (Dot Higgins), Marian Mercer (Nancy Beebe), 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.
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While the show was never a hit on network TV, its fortunes would later turn in 1983 when all 27 episodes went to syndication. The series began to attract a following along with surprising ratings for the reruns, which prompted the producers and Golden West Television to bring the series back. Another factor in its sudden rediscovery was Ann Jillian's public disclosure that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 1984, the same year as the announcement to bring the show back.
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. When Jillian decided to leave the show in 1986 (she had agreed to do only one season in syndication, plus she wanted to continue her treatments for breast cancer), her character 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.