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Poster: Mr. Television
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" Mel, Kiss my grits."
Alice aired from September 1976 until July 1985 on CBS.
For more on Alice go to the mini-page right here at Sitcoms Online.
A Short Article From Time Magazine
Monday October 29, 1979
How much do you tip a waitress who already makes six figures? That was the question for customers at Washington's Capital Hilton Hotel coffee shop last week as Linda Lavin served up hamburgers and cleared away dirty dishes. Lavin, better known as Alice when she waits on prime-time television tables at Mel's Diner, was in town to accept an award: the National Commission on Working Women found her the TV character to whom real-life blue-and pink-collar working women most relate. Does Lavin relate back? "I'm on my feet too all day, every day," she says of her shooting schedule. "We're really into Supp-hose."
Vic Tayback's Obituary
Vic Tayback dies of heart attack
May 26, 1990
Glendale, Calif-Vic Tayback, known to millions of television viewers as Mel the crusty diner owner on " Alice" died Friday of a heart attack, his agent said. The actor was 60.
Tayback, who had a history of heart trouble, including triple bypass surgery in 1983, died at home in his sleep at 1 a.m., said his agent and friend of 20 years, Fred Amsel.
Paramedics rushed Tayback to Glendale Adventist Hospital but there was no chance of reviving him, he said.
" He just died in his sleep of a heart attack," Amsel said. " He was just fine yesterday. He hadn't had any trouble since the heart surgeries. But he was a smoker. In fact, he just told me he quit smoking, again."
Tayback, who played loud-mouth Mel Sharples for nine years, appeared on several other tv series, including "Star Trek," " Bonanza," "The Rookies," " Emergency," and " Barney Miller."
On "Alice," Tayback took a lot of kidding about his cooking and it became a running gag on the CBS comedy series.
When the "Alice" series ended in 1985, Tayback returned to the stage, starring in such plays as " 12 Angry Men" and " Death of a Salesman."
Tayback is survived by his wife Sheila; son Christopher; mother Helen; sister Emily; and brother Joe. Funeral arrangements were incomplete.
Here is Martha Raye's Obituary from The New York Times
Martha Raye, 78, Singer And Comic Actress, Dies
By LAWRENCE VAN GELDER
Published: October 20, 1994
Martha Raye, the big-mouthed, big-hearted entertainer whose career spanned the decades from vaudeville to videos, died yesterday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. She was 78.
In recent years, she had suffered a serious of ailments, including a stroke and circulatory difficulties. Ron Wise, a spokesman for Cedars-Sinai, said, "Her death was an aggregate of that and other problems."
Miss Raye sang, she danced, she acted on Broadway, in Hollywood and on television, but the knockabout comic won perhaps her greatest renown as an indefatigable trouper who traveled thousands of miles through three wars to lift the morale of America's fighting forces.
"They ask so little and give so much," she said during the Vietnam War. "The least we can do back home here is give them the love, the respect and the dignity that they, our flag and our country deserve."
Her real name was Margie Yvonne Reed. She was born on Aug. 27, 1916, into a show-business family in the charity ward of a hospital in Butte, Mont. Her father and mother, Pete Reed and the former Peggy Hooper, were Irish immigrants whose song-and-dance routine, under the name Reed and Hooper, took them to carnivals and vaudeville houses around the United States.
"I didn't work until I was 3," Miss Raye was to say years later. "But after that, I never stopped."
Her mother taught her to read and write while the family, which also included her sister and brother, crisscrossed the country. From time to time, she attended schools in Montana, Chicago and New York.
"Our home was in an old, broken down Pierce Arrow auto which my father drove," Miss Raye remembered. "We put the scenery in the back seat and that was where we slept at night. We cooked on Sterno. And we went from town to town, looking for bookings."
She played burlesque houses, nightclubs and saloons, where she said she worked for tips only. "On a good night, I made a dollar," she said. "On a bad one, 25 cents."
At 15, she was singing, dancing and clowning in a children's act. She picked the name Martha Raye from a phone book and piled up the credits. She was a member of the Benny Davis Revue and the Ben Blue Company, a trouper on the Loew's vaudeville circuit, a member of the Will Morrisey act and a feature performer in "Earl Carroll's Sketchbook" and "Calling All Stars."
Eventually she made her way to Hollywood. And on one of the Sunday nights when stars gathered and entertained one another at the Trocadero nightclub, she got a couple of her friends to play straightmen to her comedy. Their names were Jimmy Durante and Joe E. Lewis. The producer Norman Taurog saw her perform, and the next day she was working with Bing Crosby on the 1936 film "Rhythm on the Range." She did a slapstick drunk scene and sang a song called "Mr. Paganini," and became a star overnight.
Miss Raye appeared in films like "Waikiki Wedding," "College Holiday," "Give Me a Sailor," "Keep 'em Flying" and "Hellzapoppin." In 1940, she starred on Broadway opposite Al Jolson in the revue "Hold Onto Your Hats." She appeared on his radio show and the programs of Eddie Cantor and Bob Hope.
During World War II, she began entertaining troops, and the 1944 film "Four Jills in a Jeep" was based on a U.S.O. tour of bases in England and Africa she made in the company of Kay Francis, Carole Landis and Mitzi Mayfair.
In 1969, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gave Miss Raye the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for her wartime efforts, and she was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1993.
She was not happy about her Hollywood career, except for "Monsieur Verdoux," Charlie Chaplin's controversial 1947 black comedy about a Parisian Bluebeard who marries and kills for money. "I must have made 35 or 40 movies and most of them were mindless," Miss Raye said. "But in those days actors didn't fight the system; then we thought we were lucky to be under contract."
Her performance in "Verdoux," in which she portrayed Annabella Bonheur, a raucous, indestructible wife of the killer, was praised as brilliant by Bosley Crowther of The New York Times. "Do you know," she recalled in 1972, "that when Chaplin called to offer me the part, I hung up on him; I thought it was a joke."
She blamed her decline in Hollywood on executives who focused on her shapely legs and ability to fill out a sweater. "They tried to make a glamour girl out of me," the brown-haired, blue-eyed actress complained. "Let's face it, I'm not a glamour girl. I'm a clown."
Despite her setbacks in Hollywood, she was far from finished. Milton Berle gave her a start in television, and by 1954, she was the medium's reigning female comedian. Ahead of her was more success in nightclubs, cabaret and theater.
Offstage, life was darker. "As an entertainer, she's a genius," one of her colleagues once said. "Socially, she's completely unsure of herself."
She married again and again. Among her husbands were the makeup artist Buddy Westmore, the composer David Rose, the businessman Neal Lang, the dancers Nick Condos and Edward Begley and the policeman Robert O'Shea. Her last marriage was in 1991, to 42-year-old Mark Harris, her manager.
She had a daughter, Melody, by Mr. Condos. After Miss Raye suffered a stroke in 1991, she and Melody battled in court over control of the actress's money. In July 1992, Miss Raye filed a lawsuit alleging that the 1991 Bette Midler-James Caan film "For the Boys" wrongfully appropriated her life story. A judge dismissed the $5 million complaint earlier this year.
In her later years, many people knew Miss Raye as the star of Polident commercials.
She is survived by her husband and her daughter.
Here is Beth Howland's Obituary from the New York Times
Beth Howland, Accident-Prone Waitress From the Sitcom Alice, Dies at 74 (NYT)
By WILLIAM GRIMES MAY 24, 2016 Beth Howland, who made high anxiety an art form as the ditsy, accident-prone waitress Vera Louise Gorman on the 1970s and 80s sitcom Alice, died on Dec. 31, 2015, in Santa Monica, Calif., her husband said on Tuesday. He had refrained from announcing her death earlier in keeping with her wishes. She was 74.
The cause was lung cancer, her husband, the actor Charles Kimbrough, said, adding that she had not wanted a funeral or a memorial service.
It was the Boston side of her personality coming out, Mr. Kimbrough said. She didn't want to make a fuss.
Ms. Howland was a modestly successful television actress, with a handful of Broadway credits on her resume, when Alan Shayne, the president of Warner Bros. Television, began casting roles for Alice. The CBS series, based on the 1974 Martin Scorsese film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, required three waitresses for Mel's Diner, the locus of the action, one of them the high-strung Vera, played in the film by Valerie Curtin.
Mr. Shayne had seen Ms. Howland on Broadway in the Stephen Sondheim musical Company, where, as a nervous prospective bride named Amy, she sang a lightning-fast patter song, Getting Married Today.
Vera was written as a taut wire, ready to go to pieces at any minute, he wrote in Double Life: A Love Story From Broadway to Hollywood (2011), a memoir written with Norman Sunshine. He recalled Ms. Howland, in the musical, going to pieces in front of the audience's eyes.
Ms. Howland won the role, and for nine seasons, from 1976 to 1985, she kept television audiences amused with her wide-eyed, jumpy performances. Asked to describe her character, she told Knight Newspapers in 1979: Insecure and vulnerable. Probably works the hardest of anybody in the diner. Very gullible, very innocent.
Elizabeth Howland was born on May 28, 1941, in Boston. She studied dance at the Hazel Boone Studio and, after graduating from high school at 16, headed to New York, where she landed a replacement role as Lady Beth in Once Upon a Mattress and a role as a dancer in Bye Bye Birdie. She also appeared, alongside Valerie Harper and Donna Douglas, the future Elly May Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies, as a dancer in the 1959 film Li'l Abner.
At 19 she married Michael J. Pollard, one of the lead actors in Bye Bye Birdie. The marriage ended in divorce. In addition to her husband, who played the anchorman Jim Dial on the television series Murphy Brown, she is survived by a daughter from her first marriage, Holly Howland.
Small parts on Broadway and in the Off Broadway hit Your Own Thing, a musical version of Twelfth Night, led to her breakthrough role in Company and her tour-de-force rendition of Getting Married Today.
It was a perfect song for me, she told The Los Angeles Times in 2004. I'm not a singer, and it has maybe four notes.
She performed it again when most of the original cast reassembled in 1993 for concert performances at the Terrace Theater in Long Beach, Calif., and the Vivian Beaumont Theater in Lincoln Center.
After being cast as the wife of a character played by Bert Convy on an episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, she moved to Los Angeles to work in television. She appeared on Love, American Style, Cannon, The Rookies and other shows before taking the role of Vera on Alice.
Unlike many actors, Ms. Howland had never worked as a waitress. But I just kept sitting around coffee shops and watching how it's done, and now I can carry four dinners, she told Knight Newspapers.
One of Vera's most memorable moments on the show occurred a scant few seconds after the beginning of the first episode. A customer's cheery Hi, Vera, caused her to throw a boxful of drinking straws into the air. The freak-out became part of the show's opening credit sequence.
For nine years, Vera remained overwrought, but changes did occur. Toward the end of the series, she married a police officer, Elliot Novak, played by Charles Levin. In the final episode, she announced that she was pregnant.
Ms. Howland acted sporadically after Alice went off the air. She had small guest roles on Eight Is Enough, Little House on the Prairie, Murder, She Wrote, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and The Tick.
She and the actress Jennifer Warren were the executive producers of the documentary You Don t Have to Die, about a 6-year-old boy's successful battle against cancer. It won an Academy Award in 1989 for best short-subject documentary.
Here is Marvin Kaplan's Obituary from Variety
Aug 25, 2016
Marvin Kaplan, a character actor known for the sitcom Alice and his voice-over work as Choo-Choo on the animated series Top Cat, has died. He was 89.
He died of natural causes on Wednesday in his home in Burbank, Calif., according to a statement released by Theatre West.
Apart from Top Cat, Kaplan was well-known for his recurring role on the CBS series Alice as Henry Beesmeyer, a phone company employee named who often visited Mel's Diner. He also appeared in small roles in films such as It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, The Great Race and A New Kind of Love. He played Uncle Pooch in David Lynch's 1990 Wild at Heart.
It is with a sad and heavy heart to inform you our very own Marvin Kaplan passed away today at 5 a.m. in his sleep, the statement reads. We loved Marvin. He will truly be missed.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Kaplan was discovered when Katharine Hepburn saw him in a theater production of Moliere, and he made his film debut in 1949's Adam's Rib starring Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. Known for his sarcastic and deadpan delivery, Kaplan was featured in a variety of films, TV shows and animated series throughout his 60-plus year career, including I Dream of Jeannie, Love, American Style, Petticoat Junction, Gidget and My Three Sons. He did voiceover work for animated shows including Wait Til Your Father Gets Home, The Smurfs and Johnny Bravo.
SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said, Marvin was the face that everyone recognized. He was your kindly neighbor; your favorite uncle or, as he was on the sitcom Alice, a regular guy phone company employee and the favorite coffee shop customer. Marvin was one of the most recognizable character actors of his generation, and he was a proud union activist and leader. We are forever grateful for the gift of his work and his service to our members.
In addition to acting, Kaplan served as AFTRA Los Angeles local president for eight years and Performers Governor on the Television Academy. He was also a member of the California Artists Radio Theatre, Motion Picture Academy and the Academy of New Musical Theatre.
A memorial service has been planned at Theatre West in Los Angeles. A date and time has yet to be announced.
For more news articles on Alice go to http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=dVpQAAAAIBAJ&sjid=u1gDAAAAIBAJ&dq=alice%20linda%20lavin&pg=6579%2C3260140 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=PyAyAAAAIBAJ&sjid=YeUFAAAAIBAJ&dq=alice%20linda%20lavin&pg=5830%2C106775 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=WiBgAAAAIBAJ&sjid=UW4NAAAAIBAJ&dq=alice%20linda%20lavin&pg=4005%2C149740 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=scVGAAAAIBAJ&sjid=BTQNAAAAIBAJ&dq=alice%20polly%20holliday&pg=4201%2C5073585 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=4H9IAAAAIBAJ&sjid=P20DAAAAIBAJ&dq=alice%20polly%20holliday&pg=5564%2C3081713 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=Ee5ZAAAAIBAJ&sjid=v0oNAAAAIBAJ&dq=alice%20linda%20lavin&pg=3909%2C4991692 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=fzEqAAAAIBAJ&sjid=EIgFAAAAIBAJ&dq=alice%20linda%20lavin&pg=2396%2C6851324 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=NygxAAAAIBAJ&sjid=iwIEAAAAIBAJ&dq=beth%20howland%20alice&pg=5191%2C2698403 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=AGUaAAAAIBAJ&sjid=9yoEAAAAIBAJ&dq=alice%20linda%20lavin&pg=5600%2C1190519 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=AsJHAAAAIBAJ&sjid=X4AMAAAAIBAJ&dq=alice%20polly%20holliday&pg=4394%2C2796651 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=Ty5VAAAAIBAJ&sjid=pD0NAAAAIBAJ&dq=diane%20ladd%20alice&pg=6803%2C1511858 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=qUBDAAAAIBAJ&sjid=c60MAAAAIBAJ&dq=alice%20linda%20lavin&pg=1331%2C1021739
To watch some clips from Alice go to http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=alice+linda+lavin&aq=0
To go to Tim's TV Showcase go to https://web.archive.org/web/20100617075320/http://www.timstvshowcase.com/alice.html
To a website dedicated to Alice go to https://web.archive.org/web/20070209102149/http://web.triton.net/o/ochs/guides/alice.asp
For some Alice-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to http://www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/shows/alice
To watch Linda Lavin perform "There's a new Girl in Town" go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5R8-x72vncI
For a great review of the classic tv show Alice which ran on CBS from 1976 until 1985 and produced 202 episodes go to https://web.archive.org/web/20080203102635/www.televisionheaven.co.uk/alice.htm
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Keywords: The Cast of Alice ( Links updated 7/5/18