It's a Living (also known as Making a Living)[1] is an American sitcom set in a restaurant at the top of the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles.[1] 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 asMaking a Living
Created byStu Silver
Dick Clair
Jenna McMahon
StarringBarrie Youngfellow
Ann Jillian
Gail Edwards
Crystal Bernard
Louise Lasser
Marian Mercer
Sheryl Lee Ralph
Wendy Schaal
Susan Sullivan
Richard Stahl
Earl Boen
Paul Kreppel
Theme music composerGeorge Aliceson Tipton and Leslie Bricusse
Opening theme"It's a Living"
Country of originUnited States
No. of seasons6
No. of episodes120 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)Paul Junger Witt
Tony Thomas
Producer(s)Joel Zwick
R.J. Colleary
Marc Sotkin
Gloria Banta
Greg Antonacci
Paul Kreppel
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time30 minutes
Production company(s)Witt/Thomas Productions
DistributorGolden West Television
Original networkABC (1980–1982)
Syndication (1985–1989)
Original releaseOctober 30, 1980 (1980-10-30) –
April 8, 1989 (1989-04-08)
First season main cast



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.


Portrayer Character Seasons
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
Bert Remsen Mario
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.

SeasonTitleEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast airedNetwork
1It's a Living13November 13, 1980 (1980-11-13)August 4, 1981 (1981-08-04)ABC
2Making a Living14October 24, 1981 (1981-10-24)June 11, 1982 (1982-06-11)
3It's a Living22September 28, 1985 (1985-09-28)May 24, 1986 (1986-05-24)Syndication
425September 27, 1986 (1986-09-27)May 23, 1987 (1987-05-23)
526September 26, 1987 (1987-09-26)May 28, 1988 (1988-05-28)
620October 15, 1988 (1988-10-15)April 8, 1989 (1989-04-08)

Title changesEdit

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 it was not a success. The series 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,[1] 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.


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 the series 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 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 (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 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.


  1. ^ a b c "Making a Living". The New York Times.

External linksEdit