Bars, restaurants and coffee shops have long served as the backdrop for some of America's most beloved sitcoms — from Boston's favorite bar ("Cheers") to the cozy couches of Central Perk ("Friends"). But none of them were quite like Mel's Diner, the run-down roadside eatery on the outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona. This is where Alice, Flo and Vera waited tables and traded one-liners with their gruff but lovable boss, Mel. It's also where we watched the gang get close and get themselves into all kinds of silly situations, the types that only sitcom characters seem to find. While there were a few staff changes over the years, one thing always remained the same — "Alice" always knew how to serve up the laughs.
How much do you remember about this long-running TV show from the 1970s and 1980s? If you've ever told someone to kiss your grits, we have a feeling you remember a lot. This quiz will test your knowledge of all kinds of "Alice" info, from its wacky characters and talented actors to its most memorable moments. Are you up for the challenge? If so, throw on an apron, grill up some grub and get ready to test your old-school TV trivia with this challenging "Alice" quiz.
What was the name of the diner where Alice worked?
The Greasy Spoon
Alice and Tommy were on their way to Los Angeles when their car broke down in Phoenix. The two became stranded due to their lack of finances, which is why Alice took the waitress job at Mel's Diner.
What was the name of the actor who played Alice's son, Tommy?
Philip McKeon was 12 years old when he won the part of Tommy on "Alice." His younger sister, Nancy, was also on TV — she played Jo Polniaczek on the popular sitcom "The Facts of Life" from 1979 to 1988.
Alice had been married to a trucker named Donald Hyatt when she lived in New Jersey. After he was tragically killed in an automobile accident, she and Tommy packed their bags and headed west to start a new life.
There was one dish served at Mel's Diner that customers actually liked. What was it?
Mac and cheese
The fact that Mel's food was tasteless and caused indigestion was a running gag throughout the series. His chili was the diner's one saving grace, and even landed the character an appearance on Dinah Shore's talk show in a fourth-season episode.
In addition to her many TV and film roles, Linda Lavin is known for her extensive theater credits. She's won six Tony Awards, two drama desk awards, and was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in January 2011.
Though not as popular as her "Kiss my grits" catchphrase, Flo's other frequent exclamation was "When donkeys fly!" Mel had something of a catchphrase, too — he would often tell people he was annoyed with to "Stow it!"
This legendary actor played himself on a season-two episode in which Vera believed he was God. Do you remember who it was?
Vera believed Burns was God because of his role in the popular 1977 comedy "Oh, God!", in which he played the almighty creator. "Alice" featured many big-name celebrity guests during its run, including Desi Arnaz, Ruth Buzzi, Robert Goulet and Florence Henderson.
Vic Tayback, who played Mel in both the original movie and the series, made frequent TV appearances on shows such as "The Love Boat" and "Murder, She Wrote" when "Alice" went off the air in 1985. Sadly, he passed away in 1990, at the age of 60, due to a heart attack.
Do you know the title of the show's popular theme song?
"There's a New Girl in Town"
The show's catchy theme song was performed by Linda Lavin, who was also a dancer and singer. In the show, the character of Alice was on her way to Los Angeles to pursue a singing career when her car broke down, and she became stranded with her son in Phoenix.
Tommy developed close relationships with all of the waitresses at Mel's Diner, including Flo, Vera, Belle and Jolene. He also became close to Mel, who ended up serving as a father figure to him for the nine-year duration of the show.
Which of the following actresses had a recurring role as Carrie Sharples, Mel's mom?
Martha Raye had a long, storied career as a comedian, actress and singer. Nicknamed "The Big Mouth," she was well-known in the '70s and '80s as the TV commercial spokesperson for Polident denture cleanser.
Celia Weston was the second actress brought on to fill the void left by Polly Holiday. What was her character's name?
Celia Weston played the role of Jolene from 1981 until the show's end in 1985. The truck-driver-turned-waitress was from South Carolina and frequently referenced a distant relative named Jefferson Davis "Boss" Hogg, who was a character on the popular CBS show "The Dukes of Hazzard."
Henry, a regular at Mel's who often joked about the food giving him indigestion, did what for a living?
Henry Beesmeyer was played by character actor Marvin Kaplan, who was also a successful radio and voice-over artist. He was first introduced on the show in 1977 and remained a recurring character until the sitcom went off the air in 1985.
Directed by Martin Scorsese, "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" starred Ellen Burstyn as the lead character. She won a Best Actress Oscar for her performance. Vic Tayback, who played Mel, was the only actor in the movie to reprise his role in the TV series.
In the TV series, Alice and Tommy were traveling from New Jersey to Los Angeles when their car broke down in Phoenix, Arizona. However, in the movie on which the TV show was based, they were coming from Socorro, New Mexico.
What was the name of the apartment complex that Alice and Tommy lived in?
The Cactus Complex
Desert Sun Apartments
During the opening credits for the first and second seasons, a montage shows Alice and Tommy driving through Phoenix, breaking down on the highway and bring dropped off by a tow truck at Desert Sun Apartments.
Vic Tayback appeared as a commercial spokesperson for which condiment brand?
Because the character of Mel was known as a terrible cook, the Heinz company thought Tayback would make the perfect spokesperson for their flavorful barbecue sauce. The series of ads often started with the actor referring to his old role, saying, "I used to be a terrible cook."
In the 1980 episode "Mel and the Green Machine," what new form of technology malfunctions while Mel is using it, much to his delight?
A vending machine
Feeling pressure from competing eatery owner Marty, Mel wants to keep the more than $24,000 in cash that the ATM accidentally spits out on him. Luckily, Alice and the other waitresses convince him to return the money to the bank.
Vera met and married a lovable cop during the last two seasons of the show. What was his name?
Elliot was played by actor Charles Levin, who was added to the main cast and appeared in the opening credits during the show's final season. In the series finale, Vera and Elliot reveal they are expecting a baby.
Tommy becomes a star basketball player in high school, thanks in large part to his coach Earl, who was also one of Flo's boyfriends. Tommy eventually goes on to win a scholarship to Arizona State University because of his talent.
What was the name of Mel's on-again, off-again girlfriend?
Marie and Mel had a tumultuous relationship and would often get into loud screaming matches at the diner. The character made numerous appearances on the show from 1978 through 1984. It's assumed they broke up, as she's neither seen nor mentioned during the show's final season.
Which of the following restaurants was major competition for Mel's Diner?
Vinnie's House of Veal
The fact that Mel's Diner wasn't the most popular (or sophisticated) eatery in Phoenix was an ongoing gag. But even though customers often groaned at the greasy spoon's cuisine, regulars like Henry and Chuck always kept coming back for more.
Polly Holiday played cranky Mrs. Deagle in which of the following big-screen hits?
The mean Mrs. Deagle got her comeuppance in one of the show's most notable scenes — when the Gremlins tamper with her motorized stair chair, and she's famously flown up the staircase and out of the window.
What's the name of the country singer who swept Alice off her feet in the final season of the show?
Travis Marsh was played by Linda Lavin's real-life husband at the time, Kip Niven. During the series finale, Alice announces that she's finally scored a record deal and is moving to Nashville with Travis.
What does Alice encourage Tommy to get counseling for in the ninth season of the show?
By the show's ninth and final season, Tommy was enjoying the boozy frat party scene a bit too much. After losing Alice's boyfriend's borrowed car due to his drinking, he agrees to get counseling. In true '80s sitcom fashion, Tommy's drinking problem is never mentioned again.
What did Mel give to each of his waitresses as a goodbye gift on the final episode of the show?
Cutlery from the diner
Alice, Vera and Jolene were shocked when Mel, typically a tightwad, gave them each a $5,000 farewell bonus in the series finale. But he could finally afford it, as Mel was able to sell the diner to a real estate developer for a tidy sum.
"Alice" aired on CBS for nine years, from 1976 to 1985. One of CBS's most popular and longest-running sitcoms, it ranked in the Nielsen top 20 for five years straight, from season two through season six.
After realizing that Mel may have a gambling problem, how do Alice, Flo and Vera help him?
They pay off his bookie.
They give up their own personal vices.
In the season-three episode "Block Those Kicks," Alice tries to give up chocolate, Vera attempts to quit smoking, and Flo does her best to abstain from drinking coffee. Unfortunately (and of course, hilariously), no one is very successful.
In a season-eight episode, Mel convinced Tommy to do which of the following?
Join the Army
Join the Navy
In the episode titled "Tommy Goes Overboard," Tommy comes home from college feeling down about bad grades and a failed relationship. After a night out with Mel and one of his old pals, Alice is shocked when her son announces that he is joining the Navy.
During its nine-season run, how many episodes of "Alice" were aired in total?
The first episode of "Alice" aired in August of 1976 and the final episode aired in March of 1985. The two-part finale featured the gang reminiscing about the last nine years while flashbacks of some of the show's most memorable moments were shown.