Question: What show followed a group of gifted students in the Individualized Honors Program?
Last Question: What show, starring Ann Jillian, aired from 1980-1982, was cancelled, then returned with new episodes in syndication from 1985-1989?
Answer: It’s a Living
It’s a Living was a sitcom about waitresses who worked in a fancy restaurant, called “Above the Top”, located at the top of the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles. The show aired on ABC from 1980 to 1982. The first season was affected by the Screen Actors Guild strike. The season was cut short, and was not successful. When it returned after the strike, the show was renamed Making a Living. This did not catch on either, and the show was cancelled.
There were 27 episodes that had aired, and were run in syndication in 1983. Surprisingly, the reruns gained a huge following. This prompted the producers to bring the series back.
In 1985 the series was brought back with it’s original title, It’s A Living, with the addition of a new waitress – future Wings star, Crystal Bernard. But, just before resuming production on the show, Ann Jillian (then 35) made headlines when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and she became a vocal advocate for cancer research and prevention. She left the show after it’s 1985-1986 season so she could focus on beating her cancer, with treatment including a double mastectomy. The show continued it’s successful run until 1989.
Meanwhile, Ann Jillian’s battle with cancer was made into the top-rated 1988 made-for-TV film, The Ann Jillian Story, in which Jillian portrayed herself. Jillian received her third Emmy Award nomination, for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Special, and won a 1989 Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV.
In 1989, Jillian starred in a new show – Ann Jillian – which only aired for 13 episodes. She played Ann McNeil, a widower who moved from New York to California with her teenage daughter.
Throughout the ’80s Ann Jillian also took part in Bob Hope’s television specials. I got to see her in person for one of these specials. Hope famously entertained the troops overseas during Christmas week. In December of 1990, we were in the middle of Operation Desert Shield. Bob Hope and his fellow entertainers headed out there. As it turns out, the women were not allowed to perform in the Middle East. So they had to do their own portion of the tour elsewhere. One of those stops was on my ship.
Ann Jillian was the MC, and she was outstanding! Along with her was Khrystyne Haje, Marie Osmond, and the headliners – The Pointer Sisters.
Today Ann Jillian mostly works as a motivational speaker.
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