One of my favorite-ever TV theme songs has to be the one for It's a Living/Making a Living — it's so ebullient, so Broadway. "Life's not the French Riviera!" it shouts, later opining, "We may be less than wealthy / But then again, we're young and healthy /And anyone who's young that healthy knows that that's the way the traffic flows."
Sadly, the show's anchoring performer, comically gifted Barrie Youngfellow, has died at 75.
Youngfellow, whose cause of death was not released, died March 28, 2022, in Woodstock, New York, where she'd resided since 1989 with her husband, actor Sam Freed, 73.
Her obit is endearing:
"Born in Cleveland, Ohio where she performed the title role in several productions of Peter Pan. She could fly with the best of them. She was the best of friends and had many loyal ones. Loved a good story and a nice bottle. Had a great laugh that confirmed her sense of life. Even during her decline, she could shoot off a good one liner."
Youngfellow was born Barrie Rivchun in Cleveland on October 22, 1946. She made her TV debut in 1973 on The New Temperatures Rising Show, and wound up making numerous episodic-TV appearances, including on The Streets of San Francisco (1973), Police Woman (1975), Fernwood Tonight (1977), Emergency! (1978), Barney Miller (1978), WKRP in Cincinnati (1978) and The Jeffersons (1979).
She was particularly memorable on a 1979 episode of Three's Company in scenes with John Ritter.
In 1980, she portrayed Joan Crawford, sharing scenes with Tony Curtis as David O. Selznick, in the TV movie The Scarlett O'Hara War, adapted from Garson Kanin's popular novel Moviola.
That same year, Youngfellow began a 120-episode run on It's a Living (later retitled Making a Living), playing Jan, a wisecracking redhead, one of several women working as servers at an upscale restaurant, Above the Top, in L.A. She was one of just four actors who appeared on every episode, a feat since it ran from 1980-1982, was canceled, then was brought back in 1985 for a syndicated run thanks to co-star Ann Jillian's hot career. Jillian only lasted one more season, but the show continued through 1989.
The show, with a snappy tone similar to Stage Door and dialogue that could be used in a sexual harassment video, employed a revolving door of actresses as the working girls: Youngfellow, Jillian, Susan Sullivan, Wendy Schaal and Gail Edwards were on hand for Season 1, but others included Louise Lasser, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Crystal Bernard.
The show's boss was played by Marian Mercer, with Paul Kreppel as lounge lizard Sonny Mann and Richard Stahl, Bert Remsen and Earl Boen as various crusty chefs.
Following her long run with It's a Living, Youngfellow made just three more TV appearances — on Murder, She Wrote (1989), the pilot of Blossom (1990) and on Law & Order (1998).
Youngfellow is survived by her husband and by her two sisters.