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Alice Hyatt (born Alice Graham) is a fictional character in the movie Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore and in the subsequent television remake Alice. In the movie, she was played by Ellen Burstyn, who won an Academy Award for the role. In the television series, Alice was played by actress and singer Linda Lavin.

From New Jersey to Phoenix

Alice Graham was born and raised in New Jerseymarker. While still young, she met and married truck driver, Donald Hyatt. (She and Donald met at a club she was singing at in Newark, New Jerseymarker) Out of that union, came a son, Tommy. Some time later (within a year of the series beginning), Don died in a trucking accident. Now a widow, with a twelve year old son to care for, Alice had to decide what to do. She loved to sing, and she set off for Californiamarker to make it big, but there was one problem. Her car broke down outside of Phoenix, Arizonamarker.

Fortunately, she was resourceful to have enough for security and first month's rent, since she got an apartment at the Phoenix Palms Apartments. She had to find a job, which she did as a waitress at a place called Mel's Diner, which was run by Mel Sharples. The first episode began with Alice already working in the diner; a lot of the concepts of the car breakdown and Alice seeking work at Mel's were inferred with the opening credits and other remarks made in the first season. In the series pilot, she had been at the diner five weeks.

Mel's Diner wasn't the best job in the world for Alice, but it was a job, which she needed. The theme song hinted that "if things work out she's gonna stay" and that she did for nine seasons.

Along the way, Alice made friends, and even Mel became a needed father figure for Tommy, although some of his shenanigans met with some disapproval from Alice. Although, she could put Mel in his place at times, she occasionally referred to him as "Boss" as she really did had a great deal of respect for him. (An example was when he returned, she would say, Hi, Boss).

She also got along well with Mel's mother, Carrie Sharples. Carrie often greeted Alice with the line, "You little Dickens you!" which was her sign of affection for Alice. They also bonded as both were from the same area. Whilst Alice was from New Jersey (supposedly Passaic); Carrie was from New York Citymarker.

In the first few seasons, her best friend was Florence Jean Castleberry. Alice sometimes called her Floey. She took a motherly role to Alice when she started at the diner, and helped Alice grow into the job. She also became friends with the shy Vera Louise Gorman-Novak.

Even Mel respected Alice, and it was Alice, in her disguise as a hit man/mobster named "Sam Butler" that saved him from disaster as well as her other friends' bacon many a time.

Alice was the character that seemed to always give advice, but also the one that everyone turned to for advice. In more than one episode, Alice was persuaded to break the news of something controversial to another character when it really wasn't her place to be telling it.

Despite her working at the diner, Alice was able to sing periodically, not necessarily with Mel's support, as he despised moonlighting and frequently verbalized it. Her choice of music was the old standards and sometimes that felt out of place in the Southwest. But she was a trouper and pulled it off. In later episodes, her main venue for singing was Vinnie's House of Veal, which was run by a friend of Mel's with locations in both Phoenix and Lake Havasu Citymarker.

Invariably, whenever Mel was out of the diner for some reason or other (like going to the bank, or a harcut or some other errand), sometimes, Alice would take up the beanie and the spatula and do some of the cooking; and she often did a decent job, enough to bring business to the diner. After years of cooking for Tommy, she was able to do a great enough job of cooking for Mel's customers. This also showed the amount of trust that Mel had for Alice.

Tommy also inherited his mother's love of music and played quite a mean guitar. Several episodes featured Tommy and Alice singing together, and in several occasions, Alice, Vera and Jolene formed a trio, including the highly-rated Joel Gray 2-part episode. Even in the first episode, Alice showed her musical talent, when Flo rolled a piano into the diner; and Mel approved of Alice's singing.

Alice was also friendly with one of the diner's main regulars, telephone company worker, Henry Beesmeyer. Their friendship was once misunderstood by Henry's usually never-seen wife, Chloe.

As Flo left for Houston, Texasmarker for a hostessing job, Alice became the head waitress (as she had become knowledgeable in being a waitress); the motherly figure for the other waitresses and helped both of Flo's replacements, Belle Dupree and Jolene Hunnicutt get used to the long hours, little pay and trying to keep one step ahead of Mel.

Alice was the emotional center of the diner and often the voice of reason. Even Mel looked to her for advice, as she was most level headed, even though he tended to dismiss her as a "broad" just like the other waitresses. Alice often had to help diffuse the tension whenever someone (usually Mel) would make a ruckus.

However, she was also passionate enough to get into situations she would later regret. Throughout the series' run, the first season introduced Alice's mother-in-law and father-in-law in a 2-part episode (the mother-in-law lived up to every stereotype of her role and more). In the fifth and seventh seasons, Doris Roberts played Alice's mom, Mona Spivak.

Nine years later, with Tommy grown up and attending Arizona State Universitymarker, Alice finally realized her singing dream, although in a different fashion. She wound up going to Nashville, Tennesseemarker, where incidentally, her friend Belle had gone to, with singer Travis Marsh (played by Linda Lavin's second husband, Kip Niven), the twin brother of a former boyfriend of her close friend, Vera Louise Gorman-Novak.

Those who watched Alice faithfully over the years (from 1976 to 1985) noticed that the character's hairstyle changed once or more during each season, going from long to short and straight to curly (and back again) during its nine seasons. The theme song was re-recorded the first six seasons, so that added to the continually changing and evolving nature of the series.


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