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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Complete series cast summary:
 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

This show actually first aired on ABC from 1980-1982
30 August 2003 | by (Scranton, PA) – See all my reviews

Since this is such an excellent database, I was surprised at the glaring omission of this show's initial history. "It's a Living" first ran on the ABC network for two seasons before it popped up in syndication three years later. The show always centered around the lives of the waitresses who worked at Above the Top, a posh restaurant in Los Angeles. The five original waitresses were Ann Jillian (Cassie Cranston), Barrie Youngfellow (Jan Hoffmeyer), Gail Edwards (Dot Higgins), Susan Sullivan (Lois Adams), and Wendy Schaal (Vicki Allen). At the end of the 1980-1981 season, Susan Sullivan and Wendy Schaal were gone. Louise Lasser ("Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman") was cast the next year as a new waitress named Maggie McBurney and she lasted for just that season. At this time the show was renamed "Making a Living."

When the show started its run in syndication, it was known as "It's a Living" again and much of the original cast was back. Ann Jillian left after the 1985-1986 season.

Marian Mercer, who played authoritarian supervisor Nancy Beebe, and Paul Kreppel, who played egotistical lounge pianist Sonny Mann, were with the show from the beginning and remained throughout its entire run.

Though it was never as immensely popular in its original run as it could have been, the show was light and humorous with a talented, comedic ensemble cast. I agree with the previous comment regarding Marian Mercer. She is truly an underrated comedienne and anytime she is in a scene it is 100 times funnier. Marian Mercer could read the telephone book and it would be hilarious! (Catch her in the comedy movie "9 to 5" with Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin. She has a secondary role as ditzy Missy Hart; she plays the wife of Dabney Coleman's character, Franklin Hart, the boss who makes life hell for his office staff.) Paul Kreppel was also very funny. I especially liked the sparring between the characters of Nancy and Dot, who disliked each other. Actually, all the waitresses hated Nancy, who was their supervisor, and they were always exchanging verbal barbs with her.

FYI... For you true "TV Trivia" fans, here is an update on the two waitresses who left after the first season. Susan Sullivan went on to star in the CBS prime time serial "Falcon Crest" as Maggie Gioberti for almost its entire run. More recently, she appeared on "Dharma & Greg" as Greg's mother. And let's not forget those Tylenol commercials she did! Wendy Schaal starred for one season (1981-1982) as Mr. Roarke's god-daughter, Julie, on Fantasy Island. She shared hosting duties with Tattoo, played by Herve Villechaize (who was in several Dunkin' Donuts commercials featuring mini donuts--a career highlight, I'm sure!--before he committed suicide). Julie and Tattoo were both replaced in the next and final season by Lawrence, played by Christopher Hewett, who later starred as "Mr. Belvedere" and on and on it goes...

33 of 38 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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