It's a Living (1980–1989)

TV Series  |   |  Comedy
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This series featured a group of waitresses (and a pianist, Sonny) who work at a fancy restaurant at the top of a skyscraper.

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Title: It's a Living (1980–1989)

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Complete series cast summary:
Gail Edwards ...
 Dot Higgins (120 episodes, 1980-1989)
Barrie Youngfellow ...
 Jan Hoffmeyer Gray / ... (120 episodes, 1980-1989)
 Sonny Mann (120 episodes, 1980-1989)
 Nancy Beebe (120 episodes, 1980-1989)
 Amy Tompkins (93 episodes, 1985-1989)
Richard Stahl ...
 Howard Miller (93 episodes, 1985-1989)
 Ginger St. James (71 episodes, 1986-1989)
 Cassie Cranston (49 episodes, 1980-1986)


This half-hour situation comedy centered on a small group of waitresses working at a first class restaurant. A stern female supervisor and a young male piano player are also added into the mix. Written by Phil Fernando

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

30 October 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Making a Living  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Referenced in Battle of the Network Stars IX (1980) See more »

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User Reviews

One of the most underrated comedies of the 1980's It's A Living
15 April 2011 | by (Durham,North Carolina) – See all my reviews

This sitcom was one of the most underrated shows of the 1980's and here's why. Like the previous comments,I was very surprised at the glaring omission to the show's initial history. The show lasted six seasons which seasons 1 thru 2 ran from 1980 until 1982,and seasons 3 thru 6 ran from 1985 until 1989 producing 120 episodes(39 out those episodes were on ABC,while the 81 of those episodes went into syndication).

First of all,the series "It's A Living" ran on the ABC-TV network for two seasons from the premiere pilot episode on October 30,1980 until June 11,1982. During it's run on ABC,only 39 episodes were produced of the series before the network canceled the show in 1982. This sexy comedy about five pretty waitresses working at a posh Los Angeles restaurant located in the Bonaventure Hotel was the brainchild of creators Stu Silver,along with Dick Clair and Jenna McMahon(of "Mama's Family",and were the head writers for "The Carol Burnett Show") under the production of Paul Junger Witt,Susan Harris and Tony Thomas(of "Soap","Benson",and later on "Empty Nest" fame)under their production company Witt-Thomas-Harris Productions(they were also the executive producers of the series). The show centered around the lives and situations of the waitresses and other employees that worked at the posh restaurant that located inside the upper level of the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles. Nancy Beebe(Marian Mercer)was their supervisor,trying to go through the motions and situations involving not only customers,but the daily work of employees Jan(Barrie Youngfellow),Dot(Gail Edwards),Vicki(Wendy Schaal),brassy Cassie(Ann Jillian),and Sonny(Paul Kreppel),the self-absorbed wise cracking pianist. Along with battling customers and chattering about their home life,the girls all giggled a lot,paraded around in "skimpy outfits",and made jokes about whatever went on or happened during or outside the workplace. Comedical hijinks and situations came about within the staff of the restaurant each week.

During its initial run on ABC,the network used this as a vehicle for a actress Ann Jillian and most of the situations that went on within the series were cast around her. But that didn't help things much in the long run. ABC-TV,however had a good premise and faith in this show. Despite a shaky first season,when the show was on Thursday nights opposite "Mangum,P.I." which clobbered it in the ratings. By the show's second season,the show was moved to Tuesday nights. In addition,two new cast members were added;Maggie(Louise Lasser),and Dennis(Earl Boen),but that didn't help neither. Out of the 39 episodes that aired on ABC,the final episode for the network aired on June 11,1982 with episode No. 27 "Farewell To Arm". Repeat of these episodes lasted until September 10,1982.

Out of all the cast members that were associated with this series,only four of them remained with the show from beginning to the end:actors Marian Mercer,Barrie Youngfellow,Gail Edwards,and Paul Kreppel. Three years after leaving ABC,with its original title and most of the cast of "It's A Living" returned to the air with new episodes produced for first run syndication. Added to the new cast were Amy(Crystal Bernard), Ginger(Sheryl Lee Ralph),Howard(Richard Stahl),and in several episodes for the new syndication version marked the return of television veteran Danny Thomas(playing Cassie's grandfather). Ann Jillian's character Cassie got married at the end of the 1985-1986 season. Out of the 81 episodes that were in syndication,the third season began with episode No. 28 "Harassed",that premiered on September 23, 1985. But the rest of the episodes during its run in syndication had their moments whether good or bad,depending on the outcome,but by the sixth and final season,it didn't help much in the ratings. The final episode of the series was presented in episode No. 120 was "The Special Episode",that featured previous moments and flashbacks from several episodes including the ones that aired during its initial run on ABC that aired in national syndication on January 31,1989.

FYI: For you true "TV Trivia" fans out there. Here's and update on the two waitresses who left after Season One. Actress Susan Sullivan,who played Lois,went on the star in the CBS prime-time serial "Falcon Crest" as Maggie Gioberti for its entire nine-year-run. She was also Greg's mom on "Dharma and Greg" and was the mom on Drew Carey's sitcom series. She is now playing Martha Rogers on the ABC crime-drama series "Castle". Let's not forget those Tylenol commercials she did! As for actress Wendy Schaal,she starred for one season as Mr. Roarke's goddaughter,Julie on "Fantasy Island" and appeared on various TV shows during the mid-1980's and throughout the 1990's. Schaal is doing voice-over work these days as the voice of Francine Smith on the FOX animated series "American Dad". As for Crystal Bernard,she went on to star in the long-running NBC comedy series "Wings" and was also known during her stint with this series was a successful pop singer who scored a huge hit on Billboard's top 100 charts during the 1980's that featured her biggest song with a duet with pop king Peter Cetera. And as for Sheryl Lee Ralph,she was already a accomplished Broadway singer and Tony award winning actress before she came onto this series. During the series and in several episodes you got the chance to hear some of Miss Ralph's great singing voice too! She was also in the TV series "Moesha",playing the mother figure for songstress Brandy,that lasted more than seven seasons.

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