Today is Alabama native Polly Holliday’s 84th birthday. In honor of the woman who portrayed Flo Castleberry on the classic sitcoms “Alice” and “Flo,” let’s look back at Holliday’s accomplished acting career.
Fans of “Alice” remember Polly Holliday as the motherly best friend of Alice on the sitcom by the same name. Over the course of four years, Holliday appeared as Florence Castleberry on 90 episodes of “Alice.” She left in 1980, five years before the show came to an end, to portray the same character on her own show called “Flo.”
“Alice” followed the adventures of Linda Lavin’s Alice and her co-workers, who worked at a diner in Phoenix, Arizona. Polly Holliday’s Flo Castleberry was a waitress at the diner. And her character mirrored her own background as Flo was from Alabama, as well.
Iconic as the Flo character became, Polly Holliday’s career is impressive beyond it. In fact, she has played roles in some of the most fondly remembered movies of the 20th century. In 1976, the same year she appeared on “Alic” for the first time, Holliday played Dardis’ secretary in “All the President’s Men.” The classic film won three Oscars.
After her time on the Flo Castleberry sitcoms, she played the role of Gloria in the Robin Williams-led “Mrs. Doubtfire.” Then, five years later, she appeared in the 1998 version of “The Parent Trap.” Of course, we’re skipping over much of the television work she did in the meantime, which is impressive in and of itself.
In the 1980s, Holliday played characters on shows like “The Golden Girls,” “Private Benjamin,” and “The Equalizer.” She continued working through the 2000s, and she finally retired in 2010.
‘Alice’ Writers Remembered Working With Polly Holliday
Writing partners Bob Carroll Jr. and Madelyn Pugh Davis may not be household names. But they’re the people who helped bring us shows like “I Love Lucy,” “The Lucy Show,” and “The Mothers-In-Law.” The pair are also responsible for the classic “Yours, Mine and Ours.”
At one point during their careers, they had the opportunity to work on “Alice.” That put them in close proximity to Polly Holliday. In a 1997 interview with the Archive of American Television, they talked about what Polly was like as an actress.
“Marvelous actress, funny lady,” Madelyn Pugh Davis said. “Polly could be a little difficult but you’d forgive her because she was so good. And if she was difficult, she knew it. She’d come around and say ‘I shouldn’t have done that,’ you know. But, oh, she was marvelous.”
“You always liked her saying ‘kiss my grits!’ and I thought that was very distasteful. You know it’s not the grits, don’t you? You know what that means,” Bob Carroll Junior said.
A very happy birthday to Polly Holliday, and many more.