"Alice" Television Show Has Roots In The Valley

October 18, 2013

The Valley is not legendary for being the setting for prominent films and TV programs. Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” begins in Phoenix, but that is not where Norman Bates lived. The Coen Brothers’ “Raising Arizona” took place in a Tempe none of us has ever seen, and then there is the CBS sitcom “Alice.”

"Tell her she can kiss my grits!" Flo famously said.

“Alice” was a TV version of the Martin Scorsese film “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” and it became known mostly for a character named Flo who, yes, said kiss my grits and Mel’s Diner, where most of the characters worked. There is a real Mel’s Diner on Grand Avenue in Phoenix.

"It was a time when American sitcoms were not at their creative height," said Bill Goodykoontz, a critic for The Arizona Republic.

Goodykoontz said for a lot young people, especially those back East, Alice was the first time they had heard of Phoenix.

"I grew up in a small town in Virginia, and Phoenix might as well have been on the moon. I didn’t know anything about it, but it was, without question, my and all my friends’ first pop culture exposure to Arizona," Goodykoontz said. "The way it was portrayed, it was like an in-between station between New Mexico and L.A., and that probably described Phoenix for a lot of people."

And if you are wondering why we are talking about Alice, the program’s star Linda Lavin turned 76 years old earlier this week.