It's a Living
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).
|It's a Living|
|Also known as||Making a Living|
|Created by||Stu Silver|
Sheryl Lee Ralph
|Theme music composer||George Aliceson Tipton and Leslie Bricusse|
|Opening theme||"It's a Living"|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||6|
|No. of episodes||120 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Paul Junger Witt|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Witt/Thomas Productions|
|Distributor||Golden West Television|
|Original network||ABC (1980–1982)|
|Original release||October 30, 1980 –|
April 8, 1989
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 Miller|
|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 was not a success. The series was retooled extensively, with two of the five waitresses from the first season - Lois Adams and Vicki Allen, played by actresses Susan Sullivan and Wendy Schaal, respectively - being replaced with waitress Maggie McBurney, portrayed by actress Louise Lasser. Airing in 1981 under the title 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 original title It's a Living.
Of all the cast, 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.
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 it 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 of the show's revival.
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 written out as having married and starting 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 will begin airing the series starting in January 2020.
- "Making a Living". The New York Times.
- "Retro: Atlanta Wednesday, October 23, 1985". Radio Discussions. June 29, 2006.
- "Retro: Atlanta Sunday, January 11, 1987". Radio Discussions. January 11, 2007.
- "Retro: Fresno Sat/Sun 2/21-22/87 (pt 1)". Radio Discussions. August 16, 2005.
- "Retro: Lancaster/Baltimore/DC, Sat. December 14th, 1985". Radio Discussions. November 24, 2013.
- "Retro: Maritimes Sat, July 25, 1987". Radio Discussions. April 26, 2010.
- "Retro: Montana Sun, Aug 27, 1989". Radio Discussions. August 29, 2013.
- "Retro: Boston MA: Sunday, April 24, 1988". Radio Discussions. January 3, 2019.
- "Retro: Cedar Rapids-Dubuque, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 1990". Radio Discussions. January 18, 2010.
- It's A Living 1986 WGN Promo on YouTube
- "Retro: Chicago independents, Friday, Feb. 3, 1989". Radio Discussions. July 25, 2005.
- 1-1-1987 WOIO Commercials on YouTube
- "Retro:Dallas/Fort Worth, Thursday, October 10, 1991". Radio Discussions. October 29, 2010.
- WXON TV 20-It's a Living Promo (Late 80s) on YouTube
- WXON TV 20 Prime Time Movie opening from the late 80s. on YouTube
- "Retro: Oregon Wed, Sept 13, 1989". Radio Discussions. September 13, 2013.
- "RETRO: Fargo, Monday Oct 7, 1991". Radio Discussions. September 12, 2011.
- "Retro: Northern Wisconsin, Sat. July 9th, 1988". Radio Discussions. February 1, 2018.
- "Retro: Western Massachusetts Sat, Oct 1, 1988". Radio Discussions. June 2, 2010.
- WTIC 61 Hartford Ct 1985 It's a Living on YouTube
- "Retro: New York Metro - Saturday, August 13, 1988". Radio Discussions. April 11, 2010.
- "Retro: Scranton Wilkes Barre Market - November 30, 1985 - Saturday". Radio Discussions. November 24, 2012.
- "Retro: Houston Saturday, February 28-Sunday, March 1, 1987". Radio Discussions. March 6, 2010.
- "Retro:Houston, Wednesday, September 17, 1986". Radio Discussions. December 1, 2010.
- 80's Commercials Vol. 163 on YouTube
- 80's Commercials Vol. 162 on YouTube
- Super 66 - Partridge Family commercial breaks #2 on YouTube
- KSHB-TV Commercials - December 1985 on YouTube
- 80's Commercials Vol. 409 on YouTube
- KADY Saturday Comedy Block Promo 1988 on YouTube
- "IT'S ALL NEW! IT'S A LIVING". eBay.
- January 17, 1986 WTVJ-4 (Miami) commercials on YouTube
- April 11, 1986 commercials on YouTube
- Witt/Thomas Productions/Lorimar-Telepictures (1986) #2 on YouTube
- "Retro: Twin Cities, MN: January 22, 1989 (Super Bowl Sunday)". Radio Discussions. February 4, 2019.
- "NEW YORK TV- FALL 1988 (Part 3)". Radio Discussions. December 10, 2005.
- "Retro: Oklahoma City - Week of April 5, 1987". Radio Discussions. January 15, 2019.
- "Retro: Tampa/Orlando, Saturday, August 22, 1992". Radio Discussions. August 26, 1992.
- October 15, 1987 commercials on YouTube
- "Retro: Kingman, AZ, Sunday, May 3, 1992". Radio Discussions. October 22, 2017.
- ABC Commercial Break - October 1988 (Fight Back with David Horowitz) on YouTube
- "RETRO: New Hampshire 12/24/88". Radio Discussions. December 25, 2009.
- October 10, 1987 commercials on YouTube
- It's A Living (1987 Syndication Promo) on YouTube
- "Retro: Fresno Sat/Sun 2/21-22/87 (pt 2)". Radio Discussions. August 16, 2005.
- "Retro: Seattle, Wed. Aug 21 1991 4pm-12:35am". Radio Discussions. March 31, 2012.
- "Retro: San Francisco/Sacramento, Saturday, August 30, 1986". Radio Discussions. June 10, 2017.
- "Re: Salt Lake City - Indie weekend schedules July 15 & 16, 1989". Radio Discussions. August 4, 2005.
- "RETRO: Fairbanks, Alaska (February 13, 1988)". Radio Discussions. January 5, 2008.
- "Retro: St Louis Sat/Sun, June 28/29, 1986". Radio Discussions. January 16, 2008.
- "Retro: Tampa/Cable Evening/Late Night Listings, Mon. Oct 14, 1985". Radio Discussions. August 15, 2010.
- WFTY commercials (Week of December 13, 1987) on YouTube