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Love the '70s Sitcom 'Alice'? Visit the Real Mel's Diner in Arizona

The CBS sitcom Alice aired from 1976 to 1985 and starred Linda Lavin as the titular Mel's Diner waitress. (She also performed the theme song, "There's a New Girl in Town.") The show ran for nine seasons and followed the life of single mother Alice Hyatt, who leaves her life in New Jersey behind to pursue a singing career in Los Angeles, but is forced to start over as a roadside diner waitress in Phoenix, Arizona after her trucker husband died.

Diane Ladd, Linda Lavin, Polly Holliday, Beth Howland and Celia Weston all became stars for their roles in the hilarious TV comedy. Viewers loved following the quirky diner waitresses, Alice, Vera Louise Gorman (Beth Howland), Mel Sharples (Vic Tayback), and of course, Flo (Polly Holliday), working at Mel's.

 

Here are five things you might not have known about the beloved TV series

1. The television series was based on a Martin Scorsese film 

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore starred Ellen Burstyn, who won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role as Alice. Robert Getchell, who wrote the film, was also the creator of the TV show. Diane Ladd also received an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of Flo in the film. She would go on, ironically, to play Isabelle "Belle" Dupree on the TV show, a role which earned her a Golden Globe.

2. There were differences between the film and the show

Though the show Alice was based on the Scorsese film, tonally, it was quite different. There's a big difference, after all, between a movie that premieres at the Cannes Film Festival and a CBS sitcom. There were some similarities and connections, however, beyond the obvious. Tommy from the film, played by Philip McKeon, appeared in the pilot episode, and Vic Tayback still played Mel, the diner owner, though the location was moved to Phoenix.

3. The show had some popular catchphrases

Despite the cultural touchstone of a film it was based on, the TV show made a mark of its own. Alice is maybe best known for Flo's catchphrases, "Kiss my grits!" and "When donkeys fly!" There are almost definitely people who say that today who have no idea where that came from. 

The catchphrases were actually so popular that Polly Holliday, the actress who played Flo on the TV series, refuses to repeat them anymore because she's been asked by so many people. 

Ladd, who played Flo in the film and Belle on the TV show, was given her own catchphrase in an attempt to duplicate Flo's popularity, though "Butter my biscuits" never had the same imprint on the culture.

4. Diane Ladd took the role to be around for her daughter

Ladd's daughter is none other than Oscar winner, Laura Dern. She told the Desert Sun that she wanted to be around more, and working on movie sets was taking her away from her family.

"I have a 13-year-old daughter and for the next few years, I need security and I want to be around, I want to have a regular schedule, I don't want to have to go out of town. I did it for all those reasons."

5. Flo was actually so popular that she was given her own spinoff, titled, of course, Flo

Polly Holliday plays Flo, returning to her hometown of Fort Worth, Texas. She becomes the proprietor of "Flo's Yellow Rose," an old roadhouse. Despite being successful, the show was canceled after its second season.

6. You can still visit the real Mel's Diner

While the series wasn't actually filmed there, the exterior shots of a real Phoenix, Arizona roadside diner was used in both Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore and the TV series Alice. Over the years, fans have made the trek to see a piece of history.

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Love the '70s Sitcom 'Alice'? Visit the Real Mel's Diner in Arizona