Alice Hyatt’s pink and white waitress uniform is heading to the Smithsonian.
“I just donated it, says Linda Lavin, who portrayed TV’s most famous waitress from 1976 – 1985. “[I gave] her uniform, her tip purse, her hat and handkerchief and earring and the flowers that I wore in my hair…”
It’s been almost four decades since Lavin first appeared on the long running CBS sitcom ALICE. [Today, at 76, she plays Sean Hayes’ overbearing mom in the struggling NBC comedy SEAN SAVES THE WORLD.]
But Lavin is still very much in touch with the character that made her famous — and even believes she knows what Alice’s life would be like today.
“Alice represents the sandwich generation,” she tells me. “(It) is a generation of women who are still working at low paying jobs while many of their children have come back home.”
The actress says she believes her burger-slinging alter-ego is “still struggling” and that “there isn’t a (Mel’s) diner anymore.”
“I think she works at another diner and another diner and another diner,” Lavin says. “She’s in acceptance of the way things are for her. I think she still has a great sense of humor, and I think in that, she still represents 80 percent of all the women who work in this country. She’s never received financial security.”
Lavin tells me she is “moved with gratitude” that she was able to represent that a generation of hard working single mothers on television.
“It moves me to think about her, and to speak of her and what she did for me was,” she says. “Alice got me speaking in front of groups of people. I’d never done this before. I’d never spoken to large groups of people at gatherings of families or single parents. I mean, I was shipped all over the country to speak for women’s rights, and I ended up, one of the times, speaking at the Washington Memorial with Pete Seeger on the same stage and at a huge labor rally. And what I learned to do, because I had not spoken in front of large groups of people ever, was to show up in the uniform, to show up in Alice’s waitress outfit. And she spoke for me. I didn’t have to open my mouth.”
Lavin, who has appeared in numerous Broadway productions, tells me she still performs a cabaret act [coming November 16 to the Catalina Jazz Club in Los Angeles].
“I sing wherever anybody will ask me.,” she says.
And yes, her act still includes the iconic ALICE theme song, “New Girl In Town.”
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