Mel Sharples
Melvin Emory Sharples is a fictional character in the 1974 film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore
Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore
Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore is a 1974 American drama film directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Robert Getchell. It stars Ellen Burstyn as a widow who travels with her preteen son across the American Southwest in search of a better life, along with Alfred Lutter as her son and Kris...

and the television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

 sitcom series, Alice
Alice (TV series)
Alice is an American sitcom television series that ran from August 31, 1976 to July 2, 1985 on CBS. The series was based on the 1974 film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. The show stars Linda Lavin in the title role, a widow who moves with her young son to start her life over again, and finds a job...

. The character was played by the late Vic Tayback
Vic Tayback
Victor "Vic" Tayback was an American actor.-Life and career:Tayback was born in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, the son of Helen and Najeeb James Tayback. His parents were immigrants from Aleppo, Syria. Tayback moved with his family to Burbank, California, during his teenage years and attended...

, who reprised his movie role for the television show.

The man with the Spatula

Melvin Emory Sharples was born and bred in Brooklyn
Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous county in New York State and the second-most densely populated...

, New York. After a stint in the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

, where he served primarily as a cook, he opened a diner on 1130 Bush Highway in Phoenix, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona
Phoenix is the capital, and largest city, of the U.S. state of Arizona, as well as the sixth most populated city in the United States. Phoenix is home to 1,445,632 people according to the official 2010 U.S. Census Bureau data...

, and called it Mel's Diner. (In a first season episode, it was stated to have been on 4th Street, in Phoenix, but in later seasons, it was generally accepted to have been located at 1130 Bush Highway.) He was known for wearing a grease spattered T-shirt and a sailor cap beanie when he was cooking and often also wielded a spatula.

The diner was best known for its 14 oz. cup of coffee, as its sign showed, and "Mel's Famous Chili". Although the diner established a loyal clientele, most notably Henry Beesmeyer, the running joke was that his food was awful. Also, at some points, Mel could be incredibly stupid and somewhat ignorant.

Mel's frequent and numerous rivals in the restaurant business included Barney's Burger Barn and Benny's Beanery, where the food was usually better.

Mel has always had three waitresses working at the diner. His longest-employed waitress was rambunctious Florence Jean Castleberry
Florence Jean Castleberry
Florence Jean Castleberry , better known to all as "Flo", is a fictional character in the movie Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, the subsequent television series, Alice, and that show's spinoff, Flo...

, better known as Flo; Vera Louise Gorman-Novak
Vera Louise Gorman-Novak
Vera Novak was a fictional character in the long-running television series Alice. She was played by actress Beth Howland.-The "Dingy":Vera was the only original waitress besides Alice who lasted all of the show's run...

, a shy, nervous woman from Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

; and New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

 born Alice Hyatt
Alice Hyatt
Alice Hyatt 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...


After Flo moved back to Cowtown
- Places :Australia* Cowaramup, Western AustraliaCanada* Calgary, AlbertaNew Zealand* HamiltonUnited States* Columbus, Ohio* Fort Worth, Texas* Wichita, Kansas* Vacaville, California- Other uses :...

, Belle Dupree
Belle Dupree
Isabelle Amanda Dupree better known as Belle, was a fictional character in the television series Alice. She was played by actress Diane Ladd who, incidentally, played the character of Flo in the movie Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, on which the television show was based.-She "moves like the waves...

, a waitress he knew from when he first worked in restaurants, came to help out. Mel favored Belle for a couple episodes, but the favoritism was short lived; After Belle left for Nashville
Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville is the capital of the U.S. state of Tennessee and the county seat of Davidson County. It is located on the Cumberland River in Davidson County, in the north-central part of the state. The city is a center for the health care, publishing, banking and transportation industries, and is home...

 to embark on a music career, a former trucker from South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

, Jolene Hunnicutt
Jolene Hunnicutt
Jolene Hunnicutt was a fictional character in the television series Alice. She was played, through the show's end in 1985, by theater actress, Celia Weston.- Pride of Myrtle Point :...

 came to work at the diner.

Though he was tough on his waitresses, often dismissed them as "broads" and did not pay them well, he loved them dearly, considering them part of his family.

Mel took on a fatherly role to Alice's son, Tommy
Tommy Hyatt
Tommy Hyatt is a fictional character in the film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore and the television sitcom Alice. Tommy was played by Alfred Lutter in the movie and the television series pilot. Throughout the rest of the series, he was played by Philip McKeon.-Alice's pride and joy:Tommy was the...

, since he had lost his real father in a truck accident, which necessitated Alice's move from New Jersey to Phoenix. When Tommy became popular with the ladies, Mel was quite proud, but this really distressed Alice, as she didn't want Tommy to become like her chauvinistic
Chauvinism, in its original and primary meaning, is an exaggerated, bellicose patriotism and a belief in national superiority and glory. It is an eponym of a possibly fictional French soldier Nicolas Chauvin who was credited with many superhuman feats in the Napoleonic wars.By extension it has come...


He even trained Tommy to become a fry cook like he was (Tommy also wearing the requisite T-shirt and beanie). This initially met with stringent resistance from Alice, but she eventually relented when Tommy showed a genuine talent. Often, whenever he was out of the diner for one reason or another, he would entrust the waitresses to do some of the cooking, and, as was common with Mel's lack of cooking prowess, the diner was usually full.

Most often, it was Alice herself who would do the cooking, (given that she cooked for Tommy as he grew up and was rather good at it) although Vera and the other waitresses had their turns at the stove periodically. However, Alice did this most often, as she had Mel's trust.

Mel could be very harsh and tough to deal with, especially with his long-suffering, on-again, off-again girlfriend, Marie Massey, whom he called "Puppy Toes". After Flo's departure, Marie even worked at Mel's as a temporary waitress in the episode that Belle came to the diner.

Mel had a strict rule in the diner that no checks were to be cashed there (obviously because of a lack of money); although this rule was broken by Vera when she cashed a check for an old friend, only to have it bounce and Mel tried to swindle them out of the amount of the check; $50, when he convinced them to clean his often messy apartment; Alice, Jolene and Vera utilized blackmail to grab his black book; he gave them the $50 in exchange for his precious little black book; and he hated it when anyone moonlighted (which all of the waitresses had done at one time or other, as Mel paid them very little). Though he had fired his waitresses on more than one occasion, and sometimes for very petty reasons, he realized that he couldn't run his business without them, and he needed them more than they needed him.

At one point, (in the episode, Alice Beats the Clock) he even installed a time clock, in the hopes that he could force them to come to work on time; however, he failed to reckon that the time clock also allowed for double overtime, when they came in to clean the diner on Sunday. He eventually was forced to pay them for the ten hours of work they did and threw out the time clock, but not without making a fuss about it.

Sometimes, physical damage occurred to the diner itself. For example, Flo driving a semi right through the front of the diner, out of misplaced jealousy; Mel cutting down a century old tree to expand his parking lot, the result being the tree crashing right through the diner; the diner being misaimed for demolition, and was nearly demolished; and while in a hot air balloon, Mel pulled the descent string on the balloon, crashing them through the diner's ceiling. All four times, Mel, who sees his diner as his entire life, went into an absolute rage.

Mel's mother, Carrie Sharples
Carrie Sharples
Carrie Sharples was a fictional character in the television series Alice. She was played, in typically loud-mouthed fashion, by the late Martha Raye.-Mel's boisterous mother:...

, was a recurring supporting character. Whenever she took over the cooking from her son, business skyrocketed. However, Mel would often cut down his mother's efforts, and on one occasion, drove her to the competition.

Mel called Vera "Dingy"; Jolene "Blondie"; and would often tell everyone else to "stow it!" or later on, in the case of Jolene and Belle, "Bag it!" His greatest adversary, however, was Flo.

Flo usually gave to Mel as good as she got, flooring him with phrases like "Kiss my grits!" (Flo's trademark line) or "When donkeys fly!" On the spin-off series, Flo
Flo is an American sitcom which aired on CBS from 1980 to 1981. The series is a spin-off for Polly Holliday who portrayed the sassy and street-smart waitress Florence Jean "Flo" Castleberry on the sitcom Alice...

, Mel, on a trip back from New Orleans for Mardi Gras, visited Cowtown, to see Flo and to meet her friends and family and to see her new business, Flo's Yellow Rose.

Mel rarely ever got mad at Alice, since she was often the voice of reason, and she would often smooth over the waters whenever Mel would muck things up. He did get angry with her on occasion, but he would always take her back, since he really was fond of her and also had a lot of trust in her. It was Alice, disguised as a mobster named "Sam Butler", who often came to Mel's rescue.

In 1985, however, Mel's Diner closed, and despite his cheapness over the years, he gave his beloved waitresses a $5,000 farewell bonus, along with the famous cow creamers on the tables. Also, Mel was touched when Tommy stated that had it not been for Alice working there, he would have never had a second father, which Mel had become to him. Mel reciprocated the sentiments by stating "and I would have never had a kid to raise."

Alice went to Nashville to embark on her own singing career, Jolene opened a beauty shop, and Vera and her husband Elliot settled down to normal married life.

In the final episode, Mel closed up the diner one last time, and went on to greener pastures. Presumably, he was still in Phoenix.
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