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It's a living.jpg

It's a Living is an ABC network \syndicated sitcom series created by Stu Silver, Dick Clair and Jenna McMahon.

It first aired on ABC from October 30, 1980 to June 11, 1982, and in first-run syndication from September 28, 1985 to April 8, 1989.

The series was produced by Witt/Thomas Productions and later in association with Golden West Television (from 1985 to 1986) and Lorimar-Telepictures (from 1986 to 1989).


The series centered on the lives of the waitresses who work at a posh restaurant called Above the Top.


  • Barrie Youngfellow as Jan Hoffmeyer Gray
  • Ann Jillian as Cassie Cranston
  • Gail Edwards as Dot Higgins
  • Crystal Bernard as Amy Tompkins
  • Louise Lasser as Maggie McBurney
  • Marian Mercer as Nancy Beebee Miller
  • Sheryl Lee Ralph as Ginger St. James
  • Wendy Schaal as Vicki Allen
  • Susan Sullivan as Lois Adams
  • Richard Stahl as Howard Miller
  • Earl Boen as Dennis Hubner
  • Paul Kreppel as Sonny Mann


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 which caused the show to have an abbreviated first season and thus, it wasn't successful.

"It's A Living" 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 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.

Run in Syndication

While "It's a Living" 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 (during 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 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.

With these core cast members in place, the show continued to produce episodes for syndication until it ended in 1989.