Polly Dean Holliday (born July 2, 1937) is an American actress who has appeared on stage, television and in film. She is best known for her portrayal of sassy waitress Florence Jean "Flo" Castleberry on the 1970s sitcom Alice, which she reprised in its short-lived spin-off, Flo. Her character's tagline of "Kiss my grits!" remains perhaps the most memorable line associated with the series Alice.
Holliday in 1976
Polly Dean Holliday
July 2, 1937
Jasper, Alabama, U.S.
Holliday was born in Jasper, Alabama, the daughter of Ernest Sullivan Holliday, a truck driver, and Velma Mabell Holliday (née Cain). She grew up in Childersburg and Sylacauga, where her brother Doyle's boyhood friend Jim Nabors lived. Prior to acting, Holliday worked as a piano teacher in her native Alabama, and then in Florida. She began her acting career as a member of the Asolo Theatre Company in Sarasota, Florida, where she stayed for 10 years. Holliday is an Episcopalian who sang in the St. Andrews Episcopal Choir in Mobile, Alabama and in January 2010 she appeared as herself in an official advertisement campaign for the Episcopal Church.
In 1973, Holliday moved to New York and appeared in Alice Childress's play Wedding Band at the Public Theater. More than a year later, she was cast in the Broadway hit All Over Town. While working on All Over Town, she befriended the play's director, Dustin Hoffman, who would later work with her on the 1976 movie All the President's Men.
In 1976 Holliday was cast — in what would be her major break — as sassy, man-hungry waitress Flo Castleberry on the American sitcom Alice. Her character coined the popular catchphrase, "Kiss my grits!" The phrase became part of the American vocabulary. Holliday starred in Alice from 1976 to 1980, and then moved to her own short-lived spin-off show, Flo, in which Flo left her residence in Arizona and moved back home. The show was successful during its abbreviated first season, but ratings declined during the following season due to a time change, and it was canceled in 1981.
In 1983, Holliday joined the cast of the CBS-TV sitcom Private Benjamin as a temporary replacement for series regular Eileen Brennan, who was recovering from serious injuries after being struck by a car. However, the show was suffering low ratings before Holliday arrived and was soon canceled. As a result, only one of the two episodes she filmed was aired.
Holliday also made appearances on television shows such as The Golden Girls, where she played Rose Nylund's blind sister Lily, in a recurring role as Jill Taylor's mother on Home Improvement, and a regular on The Client.
Holliday's notable roles in films include All the President's Men, Mrs. Doubtfire, the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap and her role as Mrs. Ruby Deagle in the 1984 box office smash Gremlins, for which she won the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress.
On the Broadway stage, she has appeared in revivals of Arsenic and Old Lace (1986) as Martha Brewster, one of the dotty, homicidal, sweet old aunties; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1990), for which she was nominated for a Tony for her portrayal of "Big Mama"; and Picnic (1994). She also appeared in the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap as the director of Camp Walden. In 2000, she appeared at Lincoln Center in a revival of Arthur Laurents's The Time of the Cuckoo.
|1974||Search for Tomorrow||Prison Inmate Leader||TV series|
|1974||Wedding Band||Annabelle||TV movie|
|1975||W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings||Mrs. Cozzens|
|1975||The Silence||Mrs. Watson||TV movie|
|1975||The Catamount Killing||Miss Pearson|
|1976||All the President's Men||Dardis's Secretary|
|1976||NBC Special Treat||Mrs. Cronkite||Episode: "Luke Was There"|
|1976||Bernice Bobs Her Hair||Mrs. Harvey||TV movie|
|1976–1980||Alice||Florence Jean "Flo" Castleberry||90 episodes|
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film (1979-80)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (1978-80)
|1978||The One and Only||Mrs. Crawford|
|1979||You Can't Take It with You||Miriam Kirby||TV movie|
|1980–1981||Flo||Florence Jean "Flo" Castleberry||29 episodes|
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
|1981||All the Way Home||Aunt Hannah||TV movie|
|1982||American Playhouse||Mrs. Wooster||Episode: "The Shady Hill Kidnapping"|
|1982||Missing Children: A Mother's Story||Mary Gertrude||TV movie|
|1982–1983||Private Benjamin||Capt. Amanda Allen||3 episodes|
|1983||The Gift of Love: A Christmas Story||Aunt Minerva 'Min'||TV movie|
|1984||Gremlins||Ruby Deagle||Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress|
|1985||Lots of Luck||Lucille||TV movie|
|1985||Stir Crazy||Captain Betty||Episode: "Pilot"|
|1985||Konrad||Berti Bartolotti||TV movie|
|1986||The Golden Girls||Lily Lindstrom||Episode: "Blind Ambitions"|
|1986||Amazing Stories||Elma Dinnock||Episode: "The Pumpkin Competition"|
|1988||The Equalizer||Sister Sara||Episode: "Regrets Only"|
|1988||Moon Over Parador||Midge|
|1991||A Triumph of the Heart: The Ricky Bell Story||Ruth||TV movie|
|1993||Mrs. Doubtfire||Gloria Chaney|
|1993–1999||Home Improvement||Lillian Patterson||5 episodes|
|1995–1996||The Client||Momma Love||21 episodes|
|1996||Mr. Wrong||Mrs. Alston|
|1996||A Loss of Innocence||Christina Eriksen||TV movie|
|1996||Homicide: Life on the Street||Mrs. Rath||Episode: "The Heart of a Saturday Night"|
|1998||The Parent Trap||Marva Kulp, Sr|
|2004||It Must Be Love||Mama Bell||TV movie (aka Surviving Love)|
|2006||Stick It||Judge Westreich|
|2007||The Heartbreak Kid||Beryl|
|2010||Fair Game||Diane Plame|
- "Polly Holliday Biography (1937-)". Filmreference.com. 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-17.
- "Alabama Stage and Screen Hall of Fame". theatretusc.com. Archived from the original on November 5, 2010. Retrieved October 29, 2010.