Florence Jean Castleberry
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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. In the movie, Flo was played by actress Diane Ladd (who would later play Flo's replacement, Isabelle Amanda Dupree on the TV series), and on the television series she was played by Polly Holliday.
Florence Jean Castleberry was born in Talledega, Alabama, and moved to the small community of Cowtown, Texas. Her parents were Edsel Jarvis (Forrest Tucker) and Velma Castleberry (Sudie Bond). In many ways Velma had been a raucous woman herself; and that was how Flo became who she was. She also had three younger brothers - Jimmie Joe (Burton Gilliam), Lonnie (G.W. Bailey), Rhett (Robert Ayers), and a younger sister named Fran (Lucy Lee Flippin). Jimmie Joe fell madly in love with Alice in the episode of "Alice", "Love Me, Love My Horse". Lonnie and Rhett appeared in an episode of "Flo", "A Castleberry Thanksgiving". Fran and Flo were opposites in every way. Where Flo was outgoing and graceful, Fran was introverted and clumsy. Fran, who worked at the Department of Motor Vehicles, was forever engaged to a feed store worker named Wendell Tubbs. Whilst in Cowtown, Flo had worked as a waitress, and was considered one of the best.
Her best friend in Cowtown was a woman named Miriam Willoughby (Joyce Bulifant).
Flo dropped out of school at age 16 to get married. After three extremely unsuccessful marriages, (all three were in front of Justices of the Peace, she said that those three quickies didn't seem to take). In the film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Flo was depicted as being married—albeit a rather unhappy marriage—and the mother of a preteen daughter; these elements were retrospectively amended in the television version, with Flo now portrayed as thrice divorced, and never having had children. In the television series, Flo works at Mel’s Diner in Phoenix AZ. In the movie, Flo is a waitress at Mel and Ruby’s Cafe, in Tucson, Arizona, a roadside diner run by one Mel Sharples.
She was the good-time gal and took on a sisterly role when Alice Hyatt came to Phoenix and began to work for Mel. Although she and Vera Louise Gorman-Novak got along, she didn't know what to make of her, as she was shy and clumsy, much like her sister Fran would become. She also flirted with many of the male customers.
Flo and Mel had an adversarial relationship. They respected one another, but Flo wouldn't stand for Mel's sexism and greed. Whenever she was angry at him, which was often, she would often floor him with her famous catchphrase, "Mel, kiss my grits!!!" Other expressions she used most often were, "When donkeys fly!!!" and "You bet your sweet patoot!"
Sometimes, Flo would get insanely jealous over male attention being given to other people. She was jealous of her boyfriend, Sy, working with a female trucker named Toni, so she tried to learn to drive a semi herself, with the unwilling help of Alice, whose late husband, Donald, was a semi-driver. All Flo succeeded in doing was driving the semi right through the front of the diner, infuriating Mel.
Alice and Flo were best friends. She also liked Alice's son, Tommy Hyatt, whom she called "Tiger".
After several years at the diner, Flo left Phoenix, to take a hostessing job at the Thundering Herd restaurant in Houston, Texas, but stopped back in Cowtown and bought a roadhouse from her girlhood days, renaming it Flo's Yellow Rose.
On Flo, her main adversary was the tightwad banker, Farley Waters, who held the mortgage on Flo's Yellow Rose. He absolutely hated her, and she hated him and his shenanigans as well. She got on somewhat well with the bartender, Earl Tucker, who called her señorita, although she could also be annoyed by him, because he didn't much like working for a woman; however, he did make a go of it. The only others with whom she did easily get on were Les Kincaid, the learned piano player; Miriam, who worked at the Yellow Rose with her friend; and Randy, the mechanic from the garage across the street from the Yellow Rose.
In one of the later episodes of Flo, Mel himself made a visit to Cowtown, to see how Flo was getting on running her own business and to meet her family and friends. Mel was the only character from Alice who had made a visit to Flo.