‘Alice’: Which Cast Members From the 1976 Sitcom Are Still Alive?

<p><em>Alice</em> left an indelible mark on American <a href=”https://www.cheatsheet.com/tv/”>TV</a>. Based on a relatively minor Martin Scorsese film, the weekly 30-minute sitcom followed the day-to-day of a widowed mom (played by <a href=”https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/b-positive-what-were-hoping-for-season-2.html/”>Linda Lavin</a>) who experienced car trouble in Arizona and never left. Nearly five decades after its 1976 debut, all but two of the original <em>Alice</em> cast members have died. Who’s still alive? </p>

<h2 id=”h-what-was-alice-about”>What was ‘Alice’ about?</h2>

<figure class=”wp-block-image size-full”><img decoding=”async” loading=”lazy” width=”1200″ height=”1055″ src=”https://www.cheatsheet.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Alice-cast-still-alive-Linda-Lavin.jpg-.jpg?strip=all&quality=95″ alt=”Alice cast members still alive” class=”wp-image-3427260″ srcset=”https://www.cheatsheet.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Alice-cast-still-alive-Linda-Lavin.jpg-.jpg 1200w, https://www.cheatsheet.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Alice-cast-still-alive-Linda-Lavin.jpg-.jpg?w=569&h=500 569w, https://www.cheatsheet.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Alice-cast-still-alive-Linda-Lavin.jpg-.jpg?w=768&h=675 768w, https://www.cheatsheet.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Alice-cast-still-alive-Linda-Lavin.jpg-.jpg?w=1024&h=900 1024w, https://www.cheatsheet.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Alice-cast-still-alive-Linda-Lavin.jpg-.jpg?w=68&h=60 68w, https://www.cheatsheet.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Alice-cast-still-alive-Linda-Lavin.jpg-.jpg?w=150&h=132 150w” sizes=”(max-width: 1200px) 100vw, 1200px”><figcaption class=”wp-element-caption”>‘Alice’ cast portrait on Jan. 1, 1979 | CBS via Getty Images</figcaption></figure>

<p>Before marrying Donald Hyatt and becoming a mom, Alice Spivak was a lounge singer in Newark, New Jersey. After her husband died in a trucking accident, she loaded up her station wagon and set her sights on Los Angele, hoping to revive her career. Fortunately for sitcom viewers, the newly inspired chanteuse and her adolescent son, Tommy, only made it as far as Phoenix before their car broke down. Intending a temporary stay, Alice rented an apartment and took a job at a local diner. Nine years of mildly madcap comedy ensued.</p>

<p>When the series debuted, Alice was already working at Mel’s Diner. The pilot didn’t show what led to her relocation to Arizona, but the opening credits, theme song, and comments from characters in season 1 made her situation clear.</p>

<p>Vic Tayback played diner owner Mel Sharples and was one of only two actors to appear in the TV pilot and its cinematic inspiration, <a href=”https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/movie-masterpieces-that-lost-best-picture-to-forgettable-films.html/”><em>Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore</em></a>. The other was Alfred Lutter, who played Tommy in the movie and appeared in the <em>Alice</em> pilot before the role went to Philip McKeon.</p>

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<p>Tommy Hyatt, played to perfection by McKeon, was only 12 when <em>Alice </em>premiered. By the series finale, Tommy was in college on a basketball scholarship and thought of Mel as his second father.</p>

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<div class=”jetpack-video-wrapper”><iframe loading=”lazy” title=”Alice | Season 1: Kiss My Grits! | Warner Bros. Entertainment” width=”925″ height=”694″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/pN2cfA45mUI?feature=oembed” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture; web-share” allowfullscreen></iframe></div>

<p>Linda Lavin starred as the title character. Alice Hyatt was the most practical and level-headed of the Mel’s Diner waitresses.</p>

<p>Delightfully ditzy waitress Vera Gorman was played by Beth Howland. Comedically clumsy, Vera was single throughout most of the series but married and became pregnant by the time <em>Alice</em> wrapped.</p>

<p>Alabama native Polly Holliday portrayed the man-hungry, wise-cracking Florence “Flo” Castleberry. After 90 episodes, Holliday and her Southern “kiss my grits” tagline spun off into a 1980 sitcom named for her character.</p>

<h2 id=”h-which-alice-cast-members-are-still-alive”>Which ‘Alice’ cast members are still alive?</h2>

<figure class=”wp-block-embed is-type-rich is-provider-twitter wp-block-embed-twitter”><div class=”wp-block-embed__wrapper”>
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-width=”550″ data-dnt=”true”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>TV Guide Cover, October 23-29, 1976: Linda Lavin of ‘Alice’ <a href=”https://t.co/d10s0ljwQD”>pic.twitter.com/d10s0ljwQD</a></p>— RetroNewsNow (@RetroNewsNow) <a href=”https://twitter.com/RetroNewsNow/status/1452025140959748099?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>October 23, 2021</a></blockquote><script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

<p>Remaining more or less faithful to 1974’s <em>Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore</em>, the greasy spoon where the titular character finds employment is owned by a guy named Mel. In the movie, the diner was Mel & Ruby’s Cafe, located in Tucson, Arizona. In the sitcom, it’s simply Mel’s Diner, somewhere on Bush Highway in Phoenix. Either way, the proprietor’s name is Mel Sharples, and the Brooklyn-born actor who portrayed him was the first original cast member to die. </p>

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<p>As of this writing, the only original <em>Alice</em> cast members still alive are Linda Lavin and Polly Holliday.</p>

<p>Lavin, now 85, has remained active in the industry with one-off and recurring roles in TV series such as <em>The Sopranos</em>, <em>The O.C.</em>, and <em>Bones </em>and movies including <a href=”https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/being-the-ricardos-i-love-lucy-scene-nicole-kidman-obsessed-getting-right.html/”><em>Being the Ricardos</em></a>. From 2020 through 2022, Lavin appeared in 32 episodes of <em>B Positive</em>. </p>

<p>Holliday, also 85, retired from acting after the 2010 film <em>Fair Game.</em></p>

<h2 id=”h-here-are-the-cast-members-who-ve-died”>Here are the cast members who’ve died</h2>

<figure class=”wp-block-embed is-type-rich is-provider-twitter wp-block-embed-twitter”><div class=”wp-block-embed__wrapper”>
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-width=”550″ data-dnt=”true”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”><a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/RIPQueen?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#RIPQueen</a> On set for The Shape of Things from 1982 with the late Vic Tayback <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/BettyWhite?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#BettyWhite</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/RIPBetty?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#RIPBetty</a> She was a true original and always a pro. And always the most fun person on the set! What a run she had! Sending Love To You All <img src=”https://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/14.0.0/72×72/2764.png” alt=”❤” class=”wp-smiley” style=”height: 1em; max-height: 1em;” />?<img src=”https://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/14.0.0/72×72/2764.png” alt=”❤” class=”wp-smiley” style=”height: 1em; max-height: 1em;” />?<img src=”https://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/14.0.0/72×72/2764.png” alt=”❤” class=”wp-smiley” style=”height: 1em; max-height: 1em;” />?<img src=”https://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/14.0.0/72×72/2764.png” alt=”❤” class=”wp-smiley” style=”height: 1em; max-height: 1em;” /> <a href=”https://t.co/fgmrJmi945″>pic.twitter.com/fgmrJmi945</a></p>— Morgan Fairchild (@morgfair) <a href=”https://twitter.com/morgfair/status/1477110731166208001?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>January 1, 2022</a></blockquote><script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

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<p>Vic Tayback was only 60 when he had a heart attack and died in his sleep in Glendale, California, on May 25, 1990. Although best known for playing Mel Sharples, Tayback appeared in supporting roles in numerous well-received films, including <em>The Choirboys</em>, <em>Bullitt</em>, and <em>Papillon</em>. The New York native’s final acting appearance was as George Henderson in a 1990 episode of <em><a href=”https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/why-cbs-cancel-macgyver.html/”>MacGyver</a></em>.</p>

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<p>Before his part as adolescent Tommy Hyatt in <em>Alice</em>, Philip McKeon appeared in <em>Fantasy Island</em> and <em>The Love Boat</em>. After <em>Alice</em>, he shortened his name to “Phil” and produced several feature films, including <em>The Jacket</em> and <em>Murder in the First</em>. McKeon died on Dec. 10, 2019, after a lengthy, undisclosed illness. He was 55, <a href=”https://www.looper.com/795995/alice-actors-you-may-not-know-passed-away/” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener”>Looper</a> reports.</p>

<p>Beth Howland achieved success as a Broadway dancer before playing the klutzy waitress Vera Gorman. The Massachusetts-born hoofer appeared hundreds of times in the original stage production of <a href=”https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/ann-margret-scene-bye-bye-birdie-outfit-daring.html/”><em>Bye Bye Birdie</em></a> alongside Dick Van Dyke, Chita Rivera, and Paul Lynde. She also appeared in the 1959 movie version of <em>Li’l Abner</em>. Her only child, Holly Howland, was born during her marriage to <em>Bonnie and Clyde</em> actor Michael J. Pollard. Howland died of lung cancer on New Year’s Eve 2015 at age 76. However, per her request, the celebrity’s cause of <a href=”https://www.cheatsheet.com/tag/celebrity-deaths/”>death</a> was not made public until May 2016.</p>

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