Gimme a break

Gimme a Break! was a Syndication sitcom that was created by Mort Lachman & Sy Rosen, starring Nell Carter in the lead role. The series premiered on October 29, 1981.

Other cast members consisted of Dolph Sweet, Kari Michaelsen, Lauri Hendler, Lara Jill Miller, John Hoyt, Joey Lawrence & his brother Matthew Lawrence, Telma Hopkins, Jonathan Silverman, Rosetta LeNoire, Rosie O'Donnell and Paul Sand.

On May 8, 1985, actor Dolph Sweet (who portrayed the character of Carl "The Chief" Kanisky) passed away from cancer at the age of 64 and his final appearance on the show aired three days later on the day of his funeral.

It was explained in the fifth season premiere that the Chief had died and the show continued with Nell taking over as the head of the household.

On May 12, 1987, "Gimme a Break" was cancelled after 6 seasons and 137 episodes.


The show was about a woman named Nell Harper (Nell Carter), who agrees to be a housekeeper for the Kanisky household as a special favor to her late friend, Margaret Huffman Kanisky (played in flashback by Sharon Spelman) who was the wife of police chief Carl Kanisky (Dolph Sweet).

Nell also served as a parent to the Chief's three daughters, Katie (Kari Michaelsen), Julie (Lauri Hendler), and Samantha (Lara Jill Miller). A foster son, Joey (Joey Lawrence) was added in Season 3.


  • Nell Carter as Nellie Ruth "Nell" Harper
  • Lauri Hendler as Julie Kanisky Maxwell [seasons 1-5]
  • Kari Michaelson as Katie Kanisky [seasons 1-5]
  • Lara Jill Miller as Samantha "Sam" Kanisky
  • Dolph Sweet as Chief Carl Kanisky [seasons 1-4]
  • Howard Morton as Officer Ralph Simpson [seasons 1-5]
  • John Hoyt as Grandpa Stanley Kanisky [seasons 2-6]
  • Joseph Lawrence as Joey Donovan [seasons 3-6]
  • Telma Hopkins as Addy Wilson [seasons 4-6]
  • Jonathan Silverman as Jonathan Maxwell [seasons 4-5]
  • Peter Schrum as Uncle Ed Kanisky [season 2]
  • Jane Dulo as Grandma Mildred Kanisky [season 2]
  • Rosetta LeNoire as "Mama" Maybelle Harper [season 6]
  • Matthew Lawrence as Matthew Donovan [season 6]
  • Paul Sand as Marty / Esteban [season 6]
  • Rosie O'Donnell as Maggie O'Brien [season 6]
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